Overijssel, a province in the Netherlands, area 1,295 sq. miles, pop. 554,000 in 1959, including 2,700 Mennonites in 1959; 1,109,250 in 2005. In 1959 the 2,700 Mennonites were found in the three towns of Deventer, Zwolle, and Kampen, in the northern tip of the province, where the congregations of Blokzijl, Giethoorn, Steenwijk, and Zwartsluis are located, while a smaller congregation in Oldemarkt died out in the middle of the 18th century; also in Twente in the southeast of the province, opposite the German border, where the congregations of Almelo, Borne, Hengelo, and Enschede, formerly also Goor, are located. In the three cities we come upon Anabaptists soon after 1530, and congregations were formed soon after. The congregation in Deventer, concerning which we are well informed, had a very hard time, whereas those at Kampen and Zwolle apparently developed peacefully.
The congregations in the northern point date from the end of the 16th century. In Twente, which remained under Spanish rule until 1626, the Mennonites could hardly expand before that year. Nevertheless there are indications that the congregations of Almelo and Enschedé date back to about 1580. The Mennonite groups were augmented especially by the immigration of weavers and merchants from Westphalia, Germany. (The supposed immigration of a large number of Mennonite weavers from Flanders, Belgium, is very questionable.) They have been of great importance economically. Twente, now a great industrial center, in the manufacture principally of textiles, became what it is largely because of the Mennonites. In Overijssel there was no federation of congregations, as in Friesland; the congregations were too independent for such a step.
Until the beginning of the 19th century the congregations in Overijssel belonged to several Mennonite branches. It is conspicuous that they for the most part were members of the more conservative groups. The more liberal Waterlanders had congregations only in Blokzijl and Zwolle, which were very small. Many congregations belonged to the Groninger Old Flemish, whereas the congregations in Oldemarkt, one in Blokzijl, Zuidveen (later merged with Steenwijk), and one in Giethoorn belonged to the very strictest wing of the Danzig Old Flemish.
On the whole, the records of the Mennonites in Overijssel are so scarce that it is impossible to create an exact picture. The magistrates in this province were often very ungracious to the Mennonites. In 1633 they forbade them to have their marriages performed in their own meetinghouses; they were to be performed by the civil authorities after being proclaimed three times in the Reformed churches (these regulations were repeated in 1636, 1649, 1653, 1659, and 1698). In 1625 Mennonite church meetings were forbidden in Overijssel, but in 1631 their meetings were tolerated on the condition that they would not be held publicly. From about 1690 the magistrates became more lenient.
The congregations of Blokzijl, Giethoorn, Steenwijk, Zwartsluis, Kampen, Zwolle, Deventer, are now united in the Zwolsche Ring. The Almelo, Borne, Hengelo, and Enschedé congregations form the Ring Twente.
The eleven congregations in this province had a total baptized membership of 1,202 in 1834 (previous figures not available for most congregations), 1,519 in 1860, 2,031 in 1900, 2,499 in 1929, 2,487 in 1955.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: I, Nos, 113, 282, 374.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1878): 4 ff.; (1879): 7, 92 f.; (1910): 10.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 289.
Zijpp, N. van der. De Doopsgezinde in Overijssel. (repr. 1932).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 100-101. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Overijssel (Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O937.html.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1959). Overijssel (Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O937.html.