Surhuisterveen, a town in the Dutch province of Friesland (coordinates: 53.18729, 6.16431 [53° 11′ 14″ N, 6° 9′ 51″ E]), mostly rural with some small but growing industry, is the seat of a Mennonite congregation, mention of which is made as early as 1647, but which had obviously been founded some decades before.
The old name of this town is Zuiderhuisterveen. From the origin until the end of the 18th century it was a peat colony. Its first inhabitants, who are said to have been Mennonites, came about 1600 or shortly after to dig the peat, which was shipped out as fuel. About 1700 a number of Mennonites from Oldehove and Niehove in the adjacent province of Groningen moved to Surhuisterveen, whose population then largely was Mennonite.
Concerning the history of the Mennonite church of Surhuisterveen there is not much information. Whether there was a High German congregation here as early as 1613, as is mentioned in an old document, is doubtful. About that time there was at least a Waterlander congregation, which in 1695 joined the Sociëteit of Friesland and sent the deacon Gauke Gabes as a delegate to the Waterlander conference meeting at Amsterdam in 1647. Until about 1840 the local Surhuisterveen churchyard had the tombstone of Gabbe Paulus, died 13 November 1643, aged 72, who had been a preacher of the Mennonite congregation. He may have been one of its first ministers. For more than two centuries the congregation was served by lay preachers. Among these mention should be made of Foecke Floris, who served in the 1680s, and who was imprisoned in 1687 on the charge of teaching Socinian doctrines, and banished from the province of Friesland in 1688; Jan Thomas, who served here faithfully in 1722-1744, likewise of liberal views. The last untrained preachers of Surhuisterveen were Eilert Wynalda 1752-1801, A. A. Venema circa 1778, Jan Yde Wynalda 1782-1801, and Ynse Ypes Reens 1802-1825. The first pastor of this congregation who was educated at the Amsterdam Theological Seminary was Arnoldus de Jong 1826-1827, followed by F. E. Wieling 1828-1857, A. Broos 1858-1864, D. Pekelharing 1864-1908, F. W. W. Braak 1909-1917, J. Yntema 1918-1922, J. H. van Riemsdijk 1922-1929, A. F. L. van Dijk 1932-1933, Miss C. Soutendijk 1934-1939, R. J. Faber 1940-1946, Miss H. A. Leyns 1946-1948, Miss W. C. Jolles 1949-1953, A. Zwartendijk 1953-1957, and J. P. Knipscheer since 1957.
The earliest membership figures date from 1695; the congregation then numbered about 40 baptized members. In 1723 there were 130, in 1828 47, in 1838 68, in 1900 79, and in 1957 131. In 1838, when the Kollum-Buitenpost congregation dissolved, the few remaining members joined the Surhuisterveen congregation.
The first meetinghouse was evidently built at a very early time, for in 1685 it was dilapidated and was replaced by another; the present church with adjoining parsonage is the third; it was built in 1859, remodeled in 1877. Surhuisterveen was one of the last Dutch congregations to obtain an organ, singing having been led by precentors. An organ was installed in 1910 and dedicated on July 10 of that year. The congregation has a ladies' circle, a Sunday school for children, and a youth group. Blaupot ten Cate's statement that in 1711 some Amish Mennonite refugees from Switzerland (see Swiss Mennonites) settled at Surhuisterveen is an error.
At Westerveen in the neighborhood of Surhuisterveen a number of Tunkers (see Church of the Brethren) led by Alexander Mack, having moved from Schwarzenau, Germany, lived in 1720-1729; they then emigrated to Germantown, Pennsylvania, USA. They apparently had no contacts with the Mennonites of Surhuisterveen.
Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Friesland. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff, 1839.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 142; (1878): 131; (1887): 50 ff.; (1896): 150, 165, 171; (1910): 190.
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. II, No. 2265.
Huizinga, J. Stamboek . . . van Samuel Peter en Barbara Fry. Groningen, 1890: LXXXX.
 Additional Information
Congregation: Doopsgezinde Gemeente Surhuisterveen
Address: Gedempte Vaart 25, 9231 AS Surhuisterveen, Netherlands
Church website: Doopsgezinde Gemeente Surhuisterveen
|Author(s)||Nanne van der Zijpp|
 Cite This Article
Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Surhuisterveen (Friesland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 30 Aug 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Surhuisterveen_(Friesland,_Netherlands)&oldid=125854.
Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Surhuisterveen (Friesland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 August 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Surhuisterveen_(Friesland,_Netherlands)&oldid=125854.
Herald Press website.
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