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Zaandam, a town (pop. ca. 46,000 with 1,302 Mennonites in 1955; 139,774 in 2004) about 6 miles (10 km) north of Amsterdam in the Dutch province of North Holland. The Zaan River divides Zaandam into a West Side and an East Side; until the 19th century the East Side was economically the more important part. Some citizens of Zaandam, e.g., Pieter Claesz (Pieter de Coster), were executed at Amsterdam in 1535. In 1543 there was an Anabaptist congregation at Zaandam, of which Klaas Noome(n) was the preacher. Meetings were then held in the homes of the members. Leenaert Bouwens baptized 40 persons here in 1564; in the following years Lubbert Gerritsz was an elder at Zaandam. Soon after this there were at least three Mennonite congregations at Zaandam: Waterlander, Frisian, and Flemish. Though the history of these groups during the 16th and 17th centuries is in many respects hazy, the following account may serve to clear up the complicated situation.

I. Waterlander congregation

A Waterlander congregation existed at Zaandam from ca. 1578. It was represented at a Waterlander conference held at Amsterdam in 1581. In the 16th-early 17th century the Waterlanders living at Koog aan de Zaan were members of this congregation until 1646, when they organized an independent congregation. The Zaandam Waterlander congregation, sometimes called "Komejanse Mennonieten" or "Komejannen," had a meetinghouse since before1600, which was replaced in1656. This meetinghouse was commonly called the North meetinghouse; it was situated on the East Side. The congregation was probably very large in the early 17th century. In 1656 the baptized members numbered 326; they lived on both the East Side and the West Side. About 1655 a second meetinghouse was built on the Dampad on the West Side. In 1675,137 members lived on the West Side and 254 on the East Side. Soon after the (Ia) East Side, or North congregation, and the (Ib) Dampad congregation on the West Side developed into relatively independent churches, though for some time they had a common fund for the relief of their poor, and other connections as late as 1712.

The West Side Waterlander congregation (lb) merged in 1687 with the Flemish congregation (IV) to form the United Mennonite Church (VI). This merger came about only after much conflict with the East Side Waterlanders (la). The history of this East Side church is continued under VIII.

II. Frisian Mennonite congregation

A Frisian Mennonite church of Zaandam, obviously also dating from the 16th century and connected with Frisian groups at Westzaan, Zaandijk, and Wormerveer, had a meetinghouse on the West Side at least from 1613. A new meetinghouse was built in 1628 on the Westside, which was usually called the "Oude Huys" (Old house) in the 18th century. On 13-15 November 1628 a general union of several Dutch Flemish and Frisian groups was discussed in this new meetinghouse. The union was, however, not effected because of opposition by the Frisian elder P. J. Twisck, of Hoorn. After the Frisians at Zaandijk and Wormerveer had founded independent congregations, the Zaandam Frisian Mennonites formed a single congregation with those at Westzaan until ca. 1700. Until ca. 1670 Westzaan was even the more important part of this congregation, and most of the preachers lived there. But gradually, as many members moved from Westzaan to Zaandam, Zaandam became the center and later on an independent congregation developed there. In 1659 the Westzaan, Zaandam, and Zaandijk congregation numbered 194 baptized members; in 1672 there were 179 Frisian Mennonites at Zaandam and ca. 200 in 1700. In the early 17th century this Frisian church was rather conservative, but gradually it became more progressive, in the 18th century even liberal, strongly influenced by Collegiantism. After the Collegiant meetings had stopped in most churches, they were still held by the Zaandam Oude Huys congregation, led by preachers and laymen; Adrian Rogge (1732-1826), a layman, was still conducting them at the age of 76. At first the preachers and elders were all chosen from the members; they were untrained and unsalaried. Among them were very capable men like Jacob Gerritsz Corver, serving 1608-ca. 1660, Jan Jansz Muusse 1651-1687, Cornelis Ariaensz Loosjes 1693-1720?, Waligh Gerrits Vis 1714-d.1767, Jan Lijnsz Rogge 1721- d.1659, and Cornelis Gerritsz Meyn Jr. 1727-1776. The first salaried minister in this church was Daniel Hovens, who served 1764-1770, followed by Anthony de Vries, who was the first minister in this church educated at the Amsterdam Lamist seminary, serving 1771-1791, T. J. de Hoop 1777-d.1838, Pieter Hollenberg 1793-1801, Matthijs Hesseling 1801-1805, Gerbrand Koopmans 1805-1814, and Bartel van Geuns 1830-1841. During the 18th and 19th centuries the membership dropped from ca. 200 to 120 in 1777 and ca. 100 in 1801, rising to 150 in 1833. A pipe organ was acquired in 1782. In 1841 the Oude Huys congregation merged with the United Waterlander and Flemish congregation (Nieuwe Huys congregation; see VI). After this merger the old Frisian meetinghouse was sold; it was used as a storehouse until 1932, when it was destroyed by a fire.

III. Aris Janszevolk congregation

A congregation commonly called Aris Janszevolk (see Verwer), which originated as a schism from the Frisian congregation, existed from 1649 (ca. 30 members); it had a meetinghouse on the East Side and had dissolved by 1704. The reason for the schism was their dissatisfaction with the church policy of the Frisian elder Jacob Klaesz, who was on good terms with the Flemish

IV. Flemish Mennonite congregation

A Flemish Mennonite group existed at Zaandam from probably c1580. It was a rather small group, though its members were among the wealthiest ship-owners and merchants of Zaandam. Concerning its history there is only scarce information. Until c1648 the center of this group was at Koog aan de Zaan rather than Zaandam. In 1649 a Flemish meetinghouse was erected at Zaandam West Side on the Stifckelspad (now Stationsstraat), and the Zaandam part became independent In 1687 this Flemish congregation merged with the Waterlander Dampad congregation (Ib) into the United Mennonite congregation (VI).

V. Groningen Old Flemish congregation

At Zaandam there was also a Groningen Old Flemish church, first mentioned in 1673, but probably dating from c1632. It had a meetinghouse on the Molenpad on the East Side. It was very conservative, maintaining old practices like feet washing until c1760. This church, always very small in membership (c40 in 1710), was led by lay preachers. In the 18th century it was commonly called Van Kalkers-volk after its elder Izaak van Kalker, serving 1711-ca. 1756. They often liberally supported the Prussian brethren. In 1774 the 18 remaining members joined the United Mennonite Church (VI).

VI. United Mennonite Church (Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente) congregation

When the Dampad Waterlanders (lb) and the Flemish congregation (IV) merged in 1687, it was resolved to drop the old names and "to forget these signs of former discord." Hence the congregation was called the United Mennonite Church (Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente). The Dampad and the Stikkelspad meetinghouses were abandoned and a new one built on the West Side. This spacious frame building, still in use, was dedicated on 2 November 1687, by Galenus Abrahamsz of Amsterdam. For this new meetinghouse the United congregation is unusually called the Nieuwe Huys congregation. The old Dampad Waterlander meetinghouse was sold as a warehouse; the former Flemish church on Stikkelspad was at first for a few years rented to the Zaandam Lutheran congregation and was then used as a warehouse, and in 1712-1714 remodeled as an orphanage; its fine rooms with old furniture can still be seen (renovated 1933); it was in use as an orphanage only until 1903; in 1959 it was used for church activities. The Nieuwe Huys congregation developed into a strong congregation; at its founding the baptized membership stood at c600, in 1727 it was 763; decreasing to 671 in 1743, 400 in 1777, and only c250 in 1827, and again growing to c320 in 1840. With 150 members of the Oude Huys congregation (II), which in 1841 merged with the Nieuwe Huys, the membership numbered 461 in this year, 483 in 1847, 531 in 1861, 753 in 1900, 770 in 1926, 779 in 1942, 760 in 1949, when this congregation merged with the Zaandam-Oost congregation

At first after 1687 the congregation was served by, untrained preachers chosen from its members, some of whom, however, received a small remuneration. Among these preachers were representatives of such well-known Zaandam families as Kalff, Louwe, three members of the Eyte (Ayte) family, Middelhoven, Loosjes and Nen. Jacob Adriaens Ouwejans served 1725-1741. The first fully salaried minister called from the outside was Gerrit ten Cate then, serving here 1755-1772, followed by Michiel de Bleyker 1762-1781, Jan van Gilse 1774-d.1782, Hendrik van Gelder 1781-d.1808, S. Hoekstra Wz 1782-d.1786, Pieter Beets 1789-d.1813, Isaac Molenaar 1808-1814, Corn. Leendertz 1813-1852, Taco Kuiper 1852-1859, Bartel van Geuns, before the merger of 1841 a preacher in the Oude Huys, serving in the Nieuwe Huys 1841-1870, Jacob van Gilse 1861-1870, Rutger Brouwer 1870-1876, Isaac Molenaar 1871-1914, D. Attema 1915-1946, H. Wethmar 1946- .

This important Nieuwe Huys congregation was relatively late in calling a minister educated at the Mennonite seminary. The first seminary man to serve here was Isaac Molenaar, called in 1808. In its church government it was also rather conservative: in 1695 it was decided that the ministers were to be chosen by the church board rather than by the brethren of the church. The church board at this time was chosen by the male members, but in the early 18th century the church board became self-perpetuating. This practice continued until 1912. But by this time there was no longer any conservatism; though a proposal of 1913 to make baptism optional or even to abolish baptism was defeated, in 1918 it became possible to join the congregation without baptism.

The meetinghouse of 1687, though remodeled several times and beautifully renovated in 1930, was still in use in 1959. But the fine carved oak pulpit, which dated from the old Oude Huys and was placed in Nieuwe Huys in 1687, was removed in 1912. In 1784 a pipe organ was installed.

At the merger of the Frisian congregation (II) with this United Nieuwe Huys congregation in 1841, it was resolved to drop the name of United congregation and to call the congregation henceforth Fries(ch)e Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Zaandam, which was its official name until 1948, When it merged with the Zaandam-Oost (VII) congregation; it was usually called the Zaandam-West congregation. 

VII. Zaandam-Oost congregation

After 1774 there was only one congregation on the East Side; it was the old Waterlander North congregation (la), which since the 18th century is usually called Zaandam-Oost. This congregation, which numbered 254 members in 1675, had 321 baptized members in 1725, 288 in 1750, 268 in 1775, 236 in 1800, and only 195 in 1815, then increasing to 260 in 1846, 355 in 1861, 503 in 1900, 537 in 1926, reaching its peak of 542 members in 1929; from then there was considerable decline: 531 in 1935, 438 in 1942. In the 17th century this congregation for some time sided with the conservative Waterlanders, who conscientiously maintained the Hans de Ries confession of faith and opposed Collegiant views and practices. Pieter Pietersz was its elder 1625-d.1651. But by 1688, when Foecke Floris, who held Collegiant and even Socinian views, became a minister, great changes had taken place. In the 18th century the Zaandam-Oost congregation was very progressive. It supported the abortive attempt of the Amsterdam Lamist congregation in 1735 to found a Lamist conference, and in 1810 it was one of the three churches—the other two being Amsterdam and Haarlem—to prepare for the founding of the Algemeene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit.

At first Zaandam-Oost was served by untrained ministers, but as early as 1751 Cornelis Adriaansz Loosjes, a native of Zaandam, who had been educated at the Amsterdam Lamist seminary, was called as (salaried) pastor, serving until 1763. He was followed by Anthony van der Os 1764-1795, a former Reformed pastor whose liberal views caused some trouble, not only in the Zaandam congregation, but also in the Rijper Societeit. Van der Os was followed by Hendrik van Voorst, serving 1779-d.1808, Samuel Muller 1809-14, Gerbrand Koopmans 1814-21, Sjoerd Ebeles Wieling 1822-d.1835, W. C. Mauve 1836-1839, S. Blaupot ten Cate 1848-1854, J. Hartog 1854-1861, W, Jesse 1862-1899, C. B. Hylkema 1899-1908, T. J. van der Ploeg 1908-26, J. G. Frerichs 1927-1932, J. J. G. Wuite 1932-1934, A. A. Sepp 1934-1944, and J. Knot 1944-1948.

The old meetinghouse of 1656, a frame building in a dilapidated state, was replaced by a new one dedicated 24 November 1861. In 1867 it was damaged by fire, but was repaired. Formerly this congregation had an orphanage on the Grote Glop, which was used until 1903 and sold in 1919.

On 14 October 1948, the Zaandam-Oost congregation merged with the Frisian West Side congregation (VI); the Zaandam-Oost meetinghouse was used until 23 September 1953, and then sold to a Reformed group.

VIII. Present (United) Mennonite congregation

The present (United) Mennonite congregation of Zaandam is the result of the merger of 1948. The ministers of this congregation were H. Wethmar after 1948 and H. Luikinga after 1949. The only meetinghouse of the congregation since 1953 has been the former Zaandam-West church. At the merger the membership numbered 1,220, decreased to 950 in 1958. Church activities include three women's circles, a brotherhood, a youth group 18-25, youth group Elfregi (age 6-18), and a Sunday school for children.

The Zaandam congregation, in co-operation with the Dutch Central Committee for the Lodging of the Aged, has established the foundation "Het Mennisten Erf," which is in 1959 to start building a home for the aged with an annex for worship and youth activities.

Since the 16th century Zaandam has been a thriving industrial city (shipping, particularly to Baltic ports), the most important lumber port of the Netherlands. In 1953 it had 28 factories of wood products, many flour mills, and processors of groceries, cocoa, oil, cattle feed, paints, chemicals, and paper. Of the more than 300 picturesque windmills formerly used for these industries, only a few are left. In the 17th-19th centuries most of these businesses were owned by Mennonites, and in the 1950s a number of Mennonites were still engaged in manufacturing and trade. Among important 17th-19th century businessmen of Zaandam should be mentioned members of the following Mennonite families: Buys, Cardinaal, Corver, Dekker, Duyn, Eytte, Ghijsen, van der Goot, Honigh, Kalff, Keg, de Lange, Loosjes, Louwe, Mats, Meyn, Middelhoven, Muusse, Noomen, Ouwejans(s), Pondman, Rogge, Schoen, Swager, Taan, Vas, Vis, Visser, Zwaardemaker, later also Verkade. Most of these families now have died out or left Zaandam.

In 1742, 6,421 persons were living at Zaandam-East Side, 858 of whom, over 13 per cent, were Mennonites, and 6,315 persons on the West Side, 1,610 of whom, over 24 per cent, were Mennonites. Thus in 1742 nearly 20 per cent of the Zaandam population was Mennonite, and in only 10 of the 339 Mennonite families was there a non-Mennonite spouse. In 1889 8.4 percent of the population was Mennonite, in 1947 3.6 per cent, and in 1955 only 2.8 per cent.

Bibliography

Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht en Gelderland. 2 v. Amsterdam: P.N. van Kampen, 1847: passim.

Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Rede ter Gedachtenis. Zaandam, 1843.

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1840): 45; (1850): 26-29, 96; (1921): 63 ff.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 165; (1872): 57, 194; (1873): 195; (1877): 80; (1879): 7; (1883): 72; (1887): 68f.; (1900): 111.

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. 673, 708, 865, 892; II, Nos. 2364-66; II, 2, Nos. 673-76.

Lootsma, S. Het Nieuwe Huys, Friesch-Doopsgezinde Gemeente West-Zaandam. Zaandam, 1937.

Naamlijst der tegenwoording in dienst zijinde predikanten der Mennoniten in de vereenigde Nederlandden, Amsterdam (1810): 72-74.

Wethmar, H. "Enkele gegevens over de plaats van de Doops-gezinden in de bevolking en de arbeid van Zaandam," in Stemmen VII (1958): No. 1, 1-16.

Information by J. Aten, H. M. Romijn and G. Honig.


Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959


Cite This Article

MLA style

van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Zaandam (Noord-Holland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zaandam_(Noord-Holland,_Netherlands)&oldid=100198.

APA style

van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1959). Zaandam (Noord-Holland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zaandam_(Noord-Holland,_Netherlands)&oldid=100198.




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Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1013-1015. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.


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