Enschede is a town in the district of Twenthe, Dutch province of Overijssel (coordinates: 52.22154, 6.89366 [52° 13′ 17″ N, 6° 53′ 37″ E]). This industrial town (textiles, ironworks) with its rapidly growing population (12,000 in 1910; 102,000 with 809 Mennonites in 1947) is the seat of a Mennonite congregation, of whose origin and history not much is known, because in 1862 the archives were destroyed with the church by fire.
The idea that the Mennonite congregation was founded about 1530 by Waldensian weavers, who had moved from Flanders to Twenthe (P. Beets, Aanteekeningen in Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de, I, No. 757), has been proved to be false. Probably it was founded by Mennonite immigrants from Westphalia. It really arose some decades after most of the congregations in the Netherlands had been founded; nothing is known of it before 1580. The most prominent families in this congregation, all of Westphalian descent—van Lochern, Blijdenstein, Paschen, Stenvers (i.e., Steinfurters), were among the founders of the present large textile industry in Enschede. In 1620 some well-to-do members of the Burgsteinfurt congregation in Westphalia settled in Enschede, among them Hendrick Gerritsz and Everwijn Franken. For a long time meetings were held in a private house, the membership being very small. In 1698, when Isaac Paschen was a preacher, a room in the van Lochern house was enlarged and adapted for church meetings; it was not until 1769 that a church was built, dedicated on 17 December of this year with a sermon held by the minister Cornelis de Vries, which was published: Inwijdingsreden over de tempels . . . (Amsterdam, 1769). In 1786 an organ was placed in this church.
In the second half of the 17th century and the 18th century the congregation belonged to the conservative Zonist wing of the Dutch Mennonites. By the end of the 18th century much had changed. The prominent members were Patriots and were politically liberal. In 1795 the Mennonites in the Netherlands were recognized on an equal basis with the Reformed. Jacob H. Floh, minister of the congregation, became (in 1796) a delegate of Twenthe to the lower house of the States-General, as was Jan B. Blijdenstein, a member of the congregation. In 1810 this Jan Blijdenstein was appointed burgomaster of Enschede.
The first trained minister here was Cornelis de Vries, mentioned above, 1763-1771. He gave his considerable library of Mennonite and other books to the congregation (Blaupot t. C., Groningen I, 222). This library also perished with the church, when a fire devastated a large part of the city on 7 May 1862. The church, which was completely destroyed, was rebuilt on the same spot at Stadsgravenstraat 59 and dedicated on 2 May 1864. This building was enlarged in 1952 and used until 1970. In 2014 the building was a discotheque.
Among the ministers of this congregation was S. Cramer, later professor at the University and the Mennonite Seminary of Amsterdam; he served at Enschede 1872-85 and was followed by C. N. Wybrands 1886-98, P. B. Westerdijk 1899-1912, E. Pekema 1912-42, S. M. A. Daalder 1942-45, and since 1945 J. P. Keuning. From 1864 to 1923 the congregation of Gronau, Germany, was a branch of Enschede, served by its preachers. As to the number of baptized members, the following figures were available: 1698, about 60; 1771, 83; 1781, 55; 1840, 65; 1864, 94; 1900, 180; 1916, about 300; 1930, 479; 1940, 520; 1953, 600. The congregation had a Sunday school for children, two women’s circles, a youth group, and a choir.
Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Groningen, Overijssel en Oost-Friesland, 2 vols. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff en J. B. Wolters, 1842.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1864): 182-183.
Heeringa, G. et al., Uit het Verleden der Doopsg. In Twenthe (Borne, n.d.) passim.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 593-594.
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: I, No. 1164; II, Nos. 1718-1720.
 Additional Information
Congregation: Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Twente: Enschede
Address: Wooldrikshoekweg 41, 7535 DB, Enschede, Netherlands
Church website: Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Twente: Enschede
|Author(s)||Nanne van der Zijpp|
|Richard D. Thiessen|
|Date Published||October 2014|
 Cite This Article
Zijpp, Nanne van der and Richard D. Thiessen. "Enschede (Overijssel, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2014. Web. 2 Feb 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Enschede_(Overijssel,_Netherlands)&oldid=126074.
Zijpp, Nanne van der and Richard D. Thiessen. (October 2014). Enschede (Overijssel, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Enschede_(Overijssel,_Netherlands)&oldid=126074.
Herald Press website.
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