European Forum

of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups

In Memoriam: Bert van Alphen

Bert van Alphen

Arie Borgdorff wants to share with you some thoughts about our good friend Bert van Alphen, who passed away on the 11th of December 2010.


Bert van Alphen grew up on Java where he was active in the youth movement of the church. He was forced to leave Indonesia for the Netherlands in the late fifties. He met his partner Theo Smit in Rotterdam and they were living together for more than 40 years.

The most characteristic part of his life might be his work for a welcoming church. The LGBT movement within the churches existed since the seventies of the 20th century. Bert was quite active in that movement and did many information visits at parishes/congregations and church boards. The work itself was often painful, but it brought him life long friendships. Bert was very concerned about the situation of people who were victim of the hiv/aids pandemic. He started working on that issue in the early eighties. He was involved in the pastoral part and did training for pastors.

He doubted long before his first visit to a Forum conference. He was afraid of the content of the European Forum. Bert and Theo took part in 1997 in the Toulouse conference. Bert was very interested in the people and involved the workshops during the conferences. He taught me that speaking is not the most adequate way of communication. He had a good contact with many of us. The celebration of his 80th birthday in Strasbourg was a wonderful happening. It was his last Forum conference.

The last period of his life was severe, painful and in the great wish to have peace. After a period of slowly gfailing health he died in peace. The announcement said: because he loved us so much we loved him much.

We are thankful for the friendship Bert offered us, which gave us the opportunity to love him. I ask you to remember Bert and Theo as well in your prayers.