On 15 February 2020, the Electoral College of the Archdiocese of Utrecht elected The Revd Barend Theodoor (Bernd) Wallet (48) as the new Archbishop of Utrecht and 83rd successor to St. Willibrord. Wallet accepted the election and immediately assumed governance of the diocese, this responsibility had been held by the Metropolitan Chapter since the retirement of Archbishop em. Joris Vercammen on 11 January. At present, Archbishop elect Wallet remains the priest of St. Gertrudis Cathedral in Utrecht. The induction and consecration of the new archbishop had been planned for 21 June 2020. However, due to the corona pandemic the ceremony has been postponed until further notice. The new date is not yet known.
This is my Church
Bernd Wallet was raised as the son of a Reformed Church pastor. Pastor Barend Wallet senior was a former President of the Synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and instigator of the ‘Samen op Weg’ (Together on the Way) process that led to the founding of the PKN. Bernd Wallet became familiar with the Old Catholic Church during his childhood and was deeply moved by the celebration in Utrecht’s Cathedral of St Gertrudis on Ash Wednesday 1991. He says, “At that moment I knew: This is my church.” However, it took quite some time to effect the change. He completed his theology studies in Utrecht and Hull (UK). In July 2006, Wallet was ordained a deacon in York and a year later was priested in Utrecht. He first worked as a chaplain in Northallerton in the Diocese of York. In 2010, he returned to the Netherlands and took up the post of priest and advisor on international affairs to the Archbishop of Utrecht. In 2015, he was appointed as priest for Utrecht Cathedral. Wallet is married and has four children.
The dean of the Metropolitan Chapter, Wietse van der Velde, expressed his delight at the election result. The chapter for this election was the Electoral College with both clergy and lay delegates from the Archdiocese of Utrecht. A total of 37 voters took part in the election, so the 19 votes cast for Bernd Wallet ensured his election. As Van der Velde said: “Today we have made church history in the Archdiocese of Utrecht. As far as I know, this is the very first time that the first round of votes has produced a candidate with an overall majority. This is a clear demonstration of the broad trust that Bernd Wallet enjoys within the Church. It did seem at first that there might be several candidates to qualify after the first round. However, the decision so quickly reached shows that there is unity within our diocese, and, thanks to the Holy Spirit, about the new bishop”. In view of this, Van der Velde feels that it is perfectly understandable that Wallet didn’t need to make use of the maximum two-week period of grace for reflection granted to a newly elected bishop.
Positive future cooperation
Bishop Dirk Jan Schoon, Bishop of Haarlem and Chairman of the Collegiaal Bestuur (Collegiate Board), the highest governing body of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands, said how delighted and touched has was by the election of his new colleague. “In his first words Bernd spoke of the many dimensions of our Church: our own diocese, the national church, our international sister churches, and the great breadth of ecumenism. So, it is immediately clear that here we have a bishop who makes connections”. Bishop Schoon is looking forward to working with the new archbishop, “Someone in whom the archdiocese has expressed so much confidence today is certainly off to a very good start.”