Kerki 1846

200 years of faithful Christian Worship
English spoken


Wilhelminastraat 1
(Behind Renaissance Hotel)
Downtown Oranjestad


Rev. Jan Rinzema (1958) is married to Nynke and has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. He was a pastor at various churches in The Netherlands and in the ELCA, Somerset, Pa. USA. Rev. Jan Rinzema has been pastor of the Protestant Church of Oranjestad and Kerki 1846 since 2022. He loves Aruba, music, reading, diving and cycling (as nearly all Dutch do!).

About the people of today

Kerki 1846 is the oldest church building in Aruba. The church building is national heritage. This church is connected to the history of Aruba. The building is a tribute to the faith of the Aruban Protestant ancestors. As a congregation we wish to connect this church to the people of today: welcoming guests, telling its history, sharing the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ.


Guests are welcome for information on the history of the church, meditation, prayer (Mon-Fri 9AM-12PM) and every Sunday morning for worship at 9 AM.

Kerki 1846 belongs to the Protestant Church of Aruba which has 4 churches on the island.


Kerki 1846 hosts concerts regularly: choral performances, organ concerts  and chamber music. Sign up for the WhatsApp – group of the ‘Protestant Church Aruba.’ WhatsApp 00 31 6 549 63 464. You will then stay informed of all activities.


Kerki 1846 is ideally suited for small celebrations of up to 100 people. The church garden can be used for private receptions. This romantic garden is enclosed, has cozy seating areas and plenty of shade. Catering is available.

Please contact


The stone church was built in 1846. The church interior is in the classic Dutch style of the 1800’s with wooden church pews. The beautiful carved pulpit shows the biblical scene of the Good Samaritan (Luc. 10, 25-37). The organ is a mechanical Flentrop pipe organ (1982) with attached pedal.

Details Flentrop orgel (1982)

A keyboard C-f3 with an attached pedal C-d1


Prestant 8’ discant

Holpijp 8’ bas / discant

Quint 3’ – bas/ discant

Fluit 4’ – bas/  discant

Octaaf 2’ 

Bible Museum

At the back of Kerki 1846 there is a small Bible museum. About 60 special Bibles from all over the world and from different historical periods are exhibited here. One of the most special Bibles exhibited is a Papiamento Bible, a translation from 1916. This is the very first Aruban Bible translation in Papiamento and was written by 7 Aruban women. These 7 women were the pioneers of making the Bible available to the Arubans in their own Aruban language. This translation is of great cultural and historical importance. It was the first written book in the Aruban Papiamento language. It helped in forming the grammar and syntaxis of Aruban Papiamento.

Ida Croes, one of the Bible translators

History of Aruban Protestantism and Kerki 1846

The Protestant Church of Aruba and Kerki 1846 have an interesting history. You can read more about it below.


The Protestant congregation in Aruba was founded in 1822. There was no church building at that time. Klaas van Eeckhout, a teacher, had been appointed at the Governor’s School in 1821 as religion teacher and he also served the Protestant congregation. Van Eeckhout conducted church services at the homes of prominent members of the congregation, such as the Eman and Specht families. The Services were also held in the local school.

In 1844, the house of the Arends family on Wilhelminastraat 1 in Oranjestad was purchased for two hundred and five guilders. It served as a place of Protestant worship. Because the building was too small and dilapidated, it was decided in 1845 to demolish it and build a new church at the same location. The new church was placed on the foundations of the old Arends house. The walls were built with stones from the demolished house. This is the present ‘Kerki 1846.’ To make lime for plastering and painting, a lime kiln was erected at Fort Zoutman. A tower bell was also purchased, but it did not survive transport. With the intervention of Commander Jacob Jarman, a new bell was procured from Coro, Venezuela. Since there was no tower at first, the bell was placed in a belfry, above the roof of the church. This bell box was nicknamed ‘the dovecote.’

The money needed to build the church was raised from collections, mainly from Curaçao (over 2,000 guilders), where the Protestant congregation was larger. Until 1846 Aruba was part of the Protestant congregation of Curaçao. The Protestant congregation of Aruba had about 180 members in 1846. Kerki 1846 was consecrated in February 1846 by Rev. Meyer of Curaçao. The construction cost of the church was 3087 guilders. The workmen earned between 0.75 (carpenters) and 1.50 guilders (the head mason) per day. Some of the children who helped earned 5 cents per day. Thus the church archives, which were kept in the current large Protestant church and have now been transferred to the National Archives of Aruba

The coastline ran much closer to the church in 1846. Therefore, the Kerki 1846 became known as ‘The Church on the Bay’ (baay). The first pastor appointed was Rev. Nicholas Kuiperi (1858 – 1871).

In 1867 the present tower, designed by commander Ferguson was added. During the restoration of 1886 the walls of the building were raised and a tiled roof was added. The clock was placed in the new tower and the ‘dovecote’ was taken down.

In 1887 an organ balcony was built. In 1910, Rev. Eybers had a porch added on the street side, to ‘prevent annoying interior viewing.’ Rev. Eybers had the porch built at his own expense. The present day pews were transported from a church n the Netherlands to Kerki 1846 by Rev. A. van den Doel (pastor in Aruba, 1984 – 2001). Much of the church interior, such as the chairs, the pulpit, the organ, the lamps and the roof tiles also came from the Netherlands. Kerki 1846 served the congregation until 1950. In 1950, the large new Protestant church, now located next to Kerki 1846, opened its doors. Before that, this location was the house of the Aruban physician Dr. Horacio Oduber. On the site of Dr. Odubers former residence now stands the tower and the entrance to the large new church. 

The new 1950 church building, like many Aruban buildings was built ‘on the wind.’ 

Coral stone was used for construction, as was common at the time. Lime was extracted from the same type of stone. As a result, like all historic buildings in Aruba, both churches suffer from so-called ‘salt efflorescence.’ The salt and moisture present in the stone and lime cause the lime and plaster to flake. Re-plastering and whitewashing must therefore be done regularly. Larger restorations have happened a few times in the past 50 years: 1987 – 1988 and 2014 – 2017.

Kerki 1846 is open to visitors Monday to Friday, 9 – 12 AM.

In 2024 Kerki 1846 reopened its doors and Worship church Services in English are held every Sunday at 9 AM.