The Regional Synod of New York

The Reformed Church Center Looks at the RCA and Slavery

One of the growing edges in RCA historical studies is the relationship between the RCA and slavery. Thirty years ago, this was not addressed at all in most historical work, but the book An RCA Reader, published in 2022 as a principal textbook for students of RCA history, devotes eleven percent of its pages to the topic. Even so, more needs to be done.

One of the leading scholars in the area of slavery in the Dutch North American colonies is Andrea Mosterman, associate professor in Atlantic History and Joseph Tregle Professor in Early American History at the University of New Orleans. In her work, she explores the multi-faceted dimensions of slavery, slave trade, and cross-cultural contact in the Dutch Atlantic and Early America with special emphasis on Early New York. She has published her work in, among others, the Journal of African History and Early American Studies, and she curated the digital exhibit “Slavery in New Netherland” for the New Netherland Institute. Her book Spaces of Enslavement: A History of Slavery and Resistance in Dutch New York (Cornell University Press 2021), which has won the 2020 Hendricks Award for best book-length manuscript related to New Netherland and the Dutch colonial experience, explores slavery and space in Dutch New York. She is currently working on a project that re-examines the seventeenth-century Dutch slave trade. Click here for more information about Dr. Mosterman.

In 2009, Dr. Mosterman was the Albert A Smith Fellow in Reformed Church History at NBTS, studying materials on this topic in the RCA Archives. On Thursday, February 23, 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm Eastern Time, she will return to the Reformed Church Center to present the 2023 Albert A Smith Lecture: “Slavery and Social Power in the Dutch Reformed Church.” She will talk about how her research and her understanding of the topic have evolved in the fourteen years since her last presentation at the Center.

Responding to Dr. Mosterman will be Janice McLean-Farrell, Dirck Romeyn Assistant Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry and Assistant Dean of Doctoral Studies at NBTS. McLean-Farrell holds theology degrees from the University of Edinburgh, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware. Part of her area of specialization includes Religion and Public Life, Migration, and Urban Immigrant Youth and Religion.

After the presentation and the response, all participants will be invited to join in a time of discussion and questions with the two scholars.

This program will be presented online via Zoom and, like all Reformed Church Center programs, admission is free and open to everyone. Participants have to register, however, at this link: