Moravians in the Netherlands

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In the Netherlands the Moravian Brethren or "Brudergemeine" are usually called Hernhutters (Herrnhutters) after their center Herrnhut in Silesia, Germany. In the Netherlands they established a center at 's-Heerendijk near IJsselstein in 1736, moving to Zeist in 1746, both in the province of Utrecht. They still occupy the estate at Zeist. These Hernhutters opened a mission in the Dutch colony of Surinam as early as 1735. Though sometimes vehemently attacked and made suspect by the Reformed Church, a number of Reformed ministers and others protected and assisted them. They also found much contact with Mennonites. Among their first Mennonite friends were Jacob Schellinger of Amsterdam, who loaned money for the purchase of 's-Heerendijk in 1736, and Joannes Deknatel, the noted pastor of the Amsterdam Lamist congregation, who was on very friendly terms with Count von Zinzendorf, the general leader of the Brethren movement. The revivalism and evangelism of the Brethren, promoted and supported especially by Deknatel, took root among the Mennonites. Places of extensive Moravian influence among the Mennonites about 1740-1750 were Amsterdam, Haarlem, Hoorn, Groningen, Blokzijl, Norden, Akkrum, Oldeboorn, and Terhorne. A number of Mennonites, though not many, definitely joined the movement, including Jacob and Cornelis Schellinger of Amsterdam, Jan Broeks and Sybern Claases of Terhorne, Gerrit Synes and others of Akkrum, Volkert de Graaf, the minister of Blokzijl. Jan van Calker of Kampen joined the Brethren in 1741; in 1743 he sold his property and moved to Herrnhut, but soon returned to the Netherlands, settling at Sappemeer. Other Mennonites, like Deknatel, Dirk Messchaert of Hoorn and his wife Janneken Beets, Joost Daams, the preacher of Haarlem, Maria Voorhelm, the wife of J. H. Schneevogt of Haarlem, also joined the Moravians, but later left them. Many Mennonites participated in Moravian communion services, usually held in the homes of the members or adherents.

In a few towns congregations were founded, which received a large proportion of their members from the Mennonites, e.g., Akkrum, where a (small) Hernhutter congregation was in existence ca.1746-1797. After Deknatel had become somewhat estranged from Zinzendorf (in 1748) and no longer supported the movement, the interest of the Mennonites in the Moravian Brethren decreased.


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: II: No. 1454.

Lutjeharrns, W. Het philadelphisch-eucurnenisch streven der Hernhutters in he Nederlanden in de achttiende eeuw. Zeist, 1935: passim.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Moravians in the Netherlands." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 Nov 2020.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Moravians in the Netherlands. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 November 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 751-752. All rights reserved.

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