Sneek (Friesland, Netherlands)
Sneek, a town in the Dutch province of Friesland (1952 population, 19,530, with 640 Mennonites; 33,115 in 2007; coordinates: 53° 2′ 0″ N, 5° 40′ 0″ E), the seat of a Mennonite congregation. Little is known of its early history. Elder Leenaert Bouwens baptized 54 or 55 persons at Sneek during several visits in 1551-1582. In the early 17th century there were here three congregations: a Flemish, a Groningen Old Flemish, and a Waterlander congregation. Of the Flemish and the Groningen Old Flemish there is no further information; the Flemish united with the Waterlander church likely about 1620, the Groningen Old Flemish died out before 1731. The Waterlander (sometimes also called Flemish and Waterlander) congregation steadily increased in membership and in general could meet undisturbed except in the years 1600-1601. Shortly before 1600 the Reformed ministers of Sneek, G. Geldorp and Johannes Bogerman, tried to destroy the Mennonite congregation; they several times entered into the meetinghouse during services in order to address and "to convert" the Mennonites; they repeatedly held debates with the noted Mennonite leader Pieter van Ceulen, who was living at Sneek. But all their efforts failed. Thereupon they made a petition to the city magistrates, asking them to forbid the Mennonite meetings, and even to expel the Mennonites on the ground that there should be only one church and one confession in the state, namely, the true Reformed church and confession. The magistrates, more intimidated by their audacity than convinced by their arguments—they were afraid of losing a good number of substantial merchants and skillful and industrious artisans—refused to expel the Mennonites as in particular Bogerman had demanded, yet resolved in 1601 to proclaim a mandate forbidding the Mennonites to hold meetings either in their meetinghouse or in private homes, on pain of heavy fines. Barend Jacobsz, however, one of the Mennonites, braving the mandate, organized a meeting in his home, and being fined, refused to pay the fine; thereupon some of his furniture was publicly sold. The mandate was, however, in the course of the year not strictly enforced and the Mennonites could meet again rather freely.
At first the Waterlander congregation held its meetings in a large room of a private quarter near the city wall, but in 1654 a meetinghouse was erected on the Singel, which held 600 persons. This meetinghouse, being rather uncomfortable and moreover in a dilapidated condition, was rebuilt in 1842 (dedicated on 10 April) and in 1855 provided with a beautiful entrance hall. It is still used by the congregation. A large hall, called "Mennozaal," used for all kinds of congregational activities, was built in 1927 close to the church. A parsonage next to the church was built in 1900-1901.
In 1695 (earlier figures are missing) the membership numbered about 200; 392 in 1796; 310 in 1838; 347 in 1861; 434 in 1900; 452 in 1958.
During the 18th century not all Mennonites living at Sneek belonged to the Waterlander congregation; a small number, more conservative in maintaining the old Mennonite doctrines and church discipline as well as in simplicity of dress, were members of the Groningen Old Flemish congregation at neighboring Ijlst. In 1746, however, the 17 members of this congregation who lived at Sneek, particularly it seems on the instigation of Wouter Berends, a wealthy brother of advanced age, separated from Ijlst and founded an independent Groningen Old Flemish congregation at Sneek. A house on the Kleinzand belonging to Wouter Berends was adapted as a meetinghouse, and Yde Rienks was called as their pastor, serving 1746-died 1763. The membership soon increased: 34 in 1754, 43 in 1767. Such outstanding families as ten Cate and Veen belonged to the Kleinzand congregation. Pastor Rienks was followed by Hidser S. Hoekstra, serving 1764-1772, and J. U. Siedsma 1775-d.l838, from 1831 assisted by the preachers of Kromwal and IJlst. In the course of time, particularly from about 1790, most members of the ten Cate and Veen families and some others left the Kleinzand church to join the "Groote Huis" or Singel congregation. In 1839 the Groningen Old Flemish group merged with the Singel congregation, after an attempt at such a merger in 1813 had miscarried.
The congregation meeting on the Singel had always been served by ministers chosen from the brethren until the early 18th century. In 1746 Klaas Bruin, called from the outside, was the first salaried preacher, serving until about 1773; he had not been trained at the Amsterdam Mennonite seminary. The first minister from the seminary to serve here was Albertus van Delden 1773-97, followed by Pieter Wepkes Feenstra 1797-1842, Izaak de Stoppelaar Blijdenstein 1842-57, J. A. J. Versiege 1858-88, L. Hesta 1889-90, V. Loosjes 1890-1912, H. Schuurmans 1912-33, W. Mesdag 1934-46, and M. van der Meulen 1946- .
Church records have been preserved since 1667. Church activities now include a ladies' circle, men's circle, and a Sunday school for children.
Brandt, G. Historie der Reformatie II Amsterdam, (1674): 3, 12-14.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 141 f.; (1873): 88 f.; (1890): 87-123; (1892): 89-98; (1901): 15.
Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1840): 25 f., (1850): 47 f.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, Nos. 607-9: v. II, No. 487.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4. p. 555-556. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
To cite this page:
MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Sneek (Friesland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sneek.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1959). Sneek (Friesland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/sneek.