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Zonists (Dutch, Zonisten, Zonnisten, Sonnisten). About 1660 in the Amsterdam Flemish, Frisian, and High German Mennonite congregation, usually called the church "bij't Lam" or Lamist church, a dissension had arisen between a more conservative part, called die Ouderen or Apostoolsen, and a more progressive part, called the Galenisten (see Lammerenkrijgh). These quarrels ended in a schism, Samuel Apostool with some other preachers and deacons and about 500 of the 2,000 members separating from the main body on 22 June 1664. The Apostoolsen soon met in the Zon meetinghouse; hence they were called Zonists. The schism was caused by differences concerning the valuation of the confessions of faith, the Apostoolsen holding that the Mennonite church was the only true Christian church which was denied by the progressives, and the fact that the Galenists (progressive followers of Galenus Abrahamsz) favored Collegiantism, which the conservatives considered a danger to the church. Among the leaders in the Amsterdam Zonist church were, besides Apostool, men like Michiel Fortgens, Herman Schijn, and the austere deacon Lambert Bidloo. Soon after the schism negotiations were held to heal the rupture, but several discussions (1668, 1672, 1684, 1685, 1688, 1722) failed and it was not until 1801 that a merger came about.

The membership of the Amsterdam Zonist church was ca. 500 in 1664, ca. 550 in 1743, and ca. 300 in 1801. Like its Lamist sister church the Amsterdam Zonists started a seminary for the training of ministers; it was led by the pastor Petrus Smidt from 1753 until 1781; the number of students was, however, very small, only 18 in all. The Zonist church of Amsterdam also had an orphanage and an old people's home in the Tuinstraat. In the early 18th century Amsterdam Zonist leaders like Herman Schijn corresponded with the Mennonites in Prussia and were very active in their behalf. Soon after the founding of the Zon, a small group, called De Kleine Zon, separated from the Amsterdam Zonist congregation but joined the mother church again by 1679. In 1752 the Old Frisian congregation at Amsterdam merged with the Zonists, and in 1788 the Old Flemish congregation did so.

Ministers of the Amsterdam Zonist church were Samuel Apostool, serving 1664-1699, T. T. van Sittert 1664-d. 1664, Tobias Govertsz van den Wijngaard 1664-1669, Isaac van Vreden 1664-1670, Gijsbert ter Singel 1664-1667, Jan van Dijk 1664-d. 1678, Pieter Eyssen 1664-1670, Samuel van Deyl 1670-1687, Pieter Apostool 1672-1680, J. Bording 1675-d.1682, N. Veen 1675-d.1678, P. J. Beets 1682-d. 1710, Michiel Fortgens 1682-d.1695, Herman Schijn 1690-d. 1727, H. Reynskes van Overwijk 1696-1716 and 1717-1725, J. Brand 1701-1725, D. van Heyst 1701-1716, H. Bakker 1723-d.1756, G. Maatschoen 1726-1750, Petrus Smidt 1728-d.1781, A. Westerhuys 1729-d.1736, Joh. Couwenhoven 1754-1801, Corn. van Kampen 1755-1781, A. H. van Gelder 1780-1801, M. de Bleyker 1781-d.1788, J. Chr. Sepp 1788-1801, and Abr. Tieleman 1788-1801. At the merger Couwenhoven, Sepp, and Tieleman retired, whereas van Gelder remained a minister of the united congregation.

The Amsterdam Zonists, at first very strict and conservative, grew rather liberal at the end of the 18th century, even more liberal than the Lamists. A hymnal, the Groote Bundel, introduced in the Amsterdam Zonist congregation in 1796, breathes a very rationalistic spirit, and the confessions of faith then were no longer appreciated.

Not only at Amsterdam, but also in other congregations, dissensions arose in 1660 and shortly after between the conservative members and the progressives, and in a few churches this led to a schism; for example, in the Haarlem "den Blok" congregation in 1671. In other places the congregations began to call themselves Zonist or Lamist. Thereupon the familiar old party names like Flemish, High German, etc., were gradually dropped. Among the congregations sympathizing with the Zonists and soon joining the Zonist Conference, were a number of Waterlander churches in the province of North Holland, and some Waterlander leaders, like E. A. van Dooregeest and P. J. Stapper, became strong Zonist leaders. In Friesland there was little sympathy with the Zonists, nearly all the churches siding with the Lamists.


Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht en Gelderland, 2 vols. Amsterdam: P.N. van Kampen, 1847: v. I, 341-45; v. II, 45, 187.

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: v. I, Nos. 875, 907, 912-26, 944; v. II, Nos. 5a, 49, 253-55, 308 f.,317, 362-78, 593-608, 746-52, 875, 929-31, 1070-77, 1108 f., 1147, 1243-72, 1281-1343, 1406-38.

Meihuizen, H. W. Galenus. Abrahamsz. Haarlem, 1954: 97 f., 101 ff., 114 f., and passim.

Wuite, J. "De Scheuring tusschen het Lam en de Zon." Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1900): 1-37.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Zonists." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 1 Aug 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zonists&oldid=111998.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Zonists. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 August 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Zonists&oldid=111998.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1038-1039. All rights reserved.

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