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Remmelbert August Jongbloed (1898-1981) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Remmelbert August Jongbloed (1898-1981)

Historical Note:

R. A. Jongbloed served as a fieldman for the Canadian Immigration Committee of the Christian Reformed Church from 1951-1954.  The following information is found in the Acts of Synod in reports from the Canadian Immigration Committee and from an interview with William Spoelhof.  The material in the folders was given to Dr. Spoelhof by Mrs. J. A. Jongbloed for Heritage Hall.

The Jongbloed family came from Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.  The family has been associated with the Jongbloed Bible Printing Company.  Remmelbert also served in the personnel department of Philips in Eindhoven.  He was active during the World War II in the underground movement.  Toward the end of the war, he was assigned to a US military unit in Eindhoven where he met William Spoelhoef, a member of the unit.  This initial contact resulted in a life-long friendship.  Jongbloed’s task was to expedite meetings with people in government and in business.  His friendship with Prince Bernhard facilitated such contacts.

After the war, Jongbloed made a number of trips to the United States and he eventually settled in Canada.  He left the Netherlands because of a general dissatisfaction with life there.

In the report to the Synod of 1951, the Canadian Immigration Committee reported on a meeting held in Winnipeg, October 1950, “R.A. Jongbloed, former secretary of the ‘Stichting van den Arbied’ in the Netherlands, was also present at our meeting.  He intends, together with Mrs. Jongbloed, to settle in one of immigration centers where his capacities and previous experience will no doubt be of great value” (Acts of Synod 1951, Supplement No. 12, p. 215).

In a letter from the Canadian Immigration Committee for Canada dated November 23, 1951, R. A. Jongbloed received notice of his appointment as part-time fieldman for the Hamilton, Ontario, district.  Remuneration for his work was set at twelve dollars per day with car expenses at seven cents per mile.

The Canadian Immigration Committee report to the Synod of 1952 (Supplement No. 19) states that R. A. Jongbloed is serving as a full time fieldman for the Hamilton and surrounding district as one of the appointees of Synod.  He is listed as a part-time fieldman in the 1954 report (p. 237).  This report added that “our ties with the Netherlands were strengthened by the visits of two of our fieldmen A. De Jong of Vancouver and R. A. Jongbloed who spent several weeks in Holland and gave liberally of their time for the work of immigration” (p. 239).  The Synod of 1955 received a notice from the Immigration Committee for Canada that “fieldman R. Jongbloed . . . in the fall of the year resigned in order to take up a leading position in Ontario with a Life Insurance Company.”  The report to this Synod also stated that the committee was responding to the instruction given by the 1954 Synod that “the Immigration Committee be instructed to work toward the elimination of fieldmen as employees of the church.”

In 1956, the Immigration Committee for Canada reported that “the postwar influx of immigrants from the Netherlands will soon move into its tenth year.”  A survey of the work of 1956 revealed that 120,000 immigrants came from the Netherlands.  The movement began with 2,000 in 1947 and reached a high of 22,000 in 1953; a decline set in the 8,000 in 1955.  Of the 9,000 in 1956, 4,000 were listed as members in Holland of various Protestant churches, such as “Gereformeerd,” “Hervormd,” “Christelijk Gereformeerd,” “Oud Gereformeerd,” and “Gereformeerd onderhoudende Art. 31.”

The Immigration Committee in its report to the Synod of 1958 presented “Rules and

Regulations for the Immigration Work of the Christian Reformed Church in Canada.”  Point 8 of the report listed the task of the fieldman:

a.      to foster immigration by finding sponsors, work and housing for immigrants;

b.      to act as arbitrators in cases of trouble between the immigrant and his employer;

c.        to conduct the necessary correspondence;

d.      to perform a reasonable amount of after care not to exceed one year;

e.      to report monthly about their work to their nearest Committee members who have supervision over their work, and to the general secretary of the Committee;

f.        to consult in all important matters with their nearest committee members;

g.      to report to Classis as often as classis requires;

h.      to work in cooperation with classical immigration committees and contact men appointed by consistories and societies;

i.        to seek the full cooperation of the Canadian Immigration Department and the Colonization Department of the Railways;

j.        to turn over to the treasurer of the committee any remuneration received for services rendered.

When the Canadian Immigration Committee presented its revised rules and regulations to the Synod of 1960, no reference was made to committee fieldmen.  Most of them now served under classical and local auspices and were financed at that level.  The Synod of 1959 had decided that the end of 1959 should discontinue services of the fieldmen “as employees of the denomination.”  The grounds given for this decision were (1) that the work can be directly taken care of by relatives and consistories; (2) that part-time fieldmen as needed can be appointed by Canadian churches; and (3) that the appointment of fieldmen as employees of the church was introduced as an emergency measure.

In 1967, Synod granted permission the Canadian Immigration Committee to contact the newly formed Council of Christian Reformed Churches in Canada and to operate under the auspices of that council.  The denominational committee, which began with international representation and then served the denomination with Canadian representation, now became a Canadian committee of the Council of the CRC in Canada.

R. A. Jongbloed has been described as a man of deep convictions, brilliant, and widely read.  He remained with the insurance company in Canada until his retirement.  He frequently visited the Netherlands.  He died at the age of 83 on February 3, 1981.  He was related to Rev. Tjeerd Jongbloed (1869-1926) who served the Hoboken CRC and the Seaman’s Home in Hoboken.

Mrs. R. A. Jongbloed, nee Hinke Vander Laan, was born in Paterson, New Jersey.  Her family moved back to the Netherlands when she was very young.  She is now lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is related to the William Eerdmans family.

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