Westzaan (Noord-Holland, Netherlands)

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Westzaan, a village in the Dutch province of North Holland (1947 pop. 3,318, 204 Mennonites; 2001 pop. 2,130), was at a very early date an important center of Anabaptism. During the winter of 1533-34 no less than some 200 are said to have been rebaptized here. This early congregation had a strong tendency toward radical chiliasm; many of its members were among the Anabaptists who sailed from Amsterdam for Münster in March 1534, some of whom were pronounced revolutionary and were executed. After the Münsterite period a peaceful Anabaptism devel­oped clandestinely in Westzaan. Concerning this period there is not much information. At the end of the 16th century there were two Mennonite congregations here, a Waterlander in the northern part of the village, and a Frisian in the southern part; they did not merge until 1949.

The Waterlander congregation, later usually called Westzaan-(op het) Noord, was represented at a Waterlander conference at Amsterdam in 1581. Of its history there is only scanty information. Shortly after 1600 it obtained a meetinghouse, which was remodeled several times. Though the Dutch Waterlanders were in general rather liberal, Waterlander churches in North Holland in the later 17th century took a more conservative attitude, rejecting Collegiantism and strictly maintaining the confession of faith by Hans de Ries, also refusing to hold government offices (mentioned in 1628). The membership numbered 150 in 1760, 70 in 1827, 114 in 1861, 146 in 1900, 156 in 1929, and 134 in 1949. Until 1876 this church was served by un­trained preachers, some of whom were outstanding; e.g., Willem Bruin 1786-1826 and Jacob Hartog Jansz 1828-76. The first minister trained at the Men­nonite seminary was C. R. van Dokkum, serving in the Westzaan-Noord congregation 1877-1902; he was followed by R. Schuursma 1903-10 and M. Onnes Mzn 1911-29. In 1930, both churches of Westzaan being vacant, they called A. A. Sepp as a pastor for both congregations. He served here 1930-34, fol­lowed by M. A. Hijlkema 1935-47, E. Daalder 1947-51, J. Wieringa 1952-58, and A. H. Swerms 1958-    . In 1949 a complete merger was made by the two churches.

The Westzaan-(op het) Zuid church was the mother congregation of the Frisian church of Zaandam, which became an independent con­gregation ca. 1700. Until then the preachers of the Westzaan-Zuid congregation often lived at Zaandam. Westzaan-Zuid has a fine old meetinghouse built in 1695; it is one of the few remaining frame churches, which were formerly rather common in North Holland. This building, well preserved, ac­quired a pipe organ in 1881. The membership, though exact figures are missing, was presumably rather large in the 17th century, but since ca. 1780 there has been a considerable decrease, mostly be­cause many members moved from Westzaan to Zaandam. In 1725 the baptized membership num­bered 210, 252 in 1769, only 75 in 1830, 144 in 1861, 116 in 1900, 98 in 1929, and 81 in 1949. Until 1843 the Westzaan-Zuid congregation was served by lay preachers. In that year Chr. Sepp, who had been educated at the Amsterdam Seminary, was called, serving here 1843-48. He was followed by J. A. J. Verstege 1848-58, A. Ballot 1860-64, H. Cremer 1866, S. Kutsch Lojenga 1866-72, A. G. van Gilse 1872-78, S. K. de Waard 1878-84, C. N. Wybrands 1884-86. After the pulpit had been vacant for three years, Pastor van Dokkum of the Westzaan-Noord congre­gation was asked to take on the congregation "op't Zuid"; he served here 1889-1902. After his retire­ment both Westzaan-Noord and Westzaan-Zuid again called pastors of their own; in Zuid this was J. W. van Stuyvenberg, serving here 1903-21, fol­lowed by W. Mesdag 1924-29. In the next year (as mentioned above) both churches called Pastor Sepp, and finally in 1949, then together numbering 215 baptized members, they completely merged.

The Westzaan-Zuid congregation formerly oper­ated an orphanage, which was closed about 1890 for lack of orphans. In the late 1950s there were ladies' circles in both northern and southern parts of Westzaan, and a Sunday school for children. The baptized membership at that time was 170.


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

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861):163; (1872): 57;  (1877): 80; (1889): 134.

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. 14, 110, 413, 865, 892, 896.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932: 87, 92.

Lootsma, S. Het Nieuwe Huys. Zaandam, 1937: 188 ff.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Westzaan (Noord-Holland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 4 Jul 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Westzaan_(Noord-Holland,_Netherlands)&oldid=171947.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Westzaan (Noord-Holland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 July 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Westzaan_(Noord-Holland,_Netherlands)&oldid=171947.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 937. All rights reserved.

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