Baptist chapel yours
The Baptist Chapel of Ihren stands in the district of the same name in the East Frisian municipality of Westoverledingen. It was built around 1854 and has been rebuilt and extended several times since then. The old chapel is the oldest Baptist building on the European continent still in church use.
The Evangelical Free Church Baptist congregation in Ihren is considered the mother church of all older East Frisian Baptist congregations and the starting point for the founding of the Dutch Baptist movement. It was founded on 23 May 1846 as a congregation of baptised Christians in Ihren. The chairman of the constituent assembly was the Baptist founding father, songwriter and author Julius Köbner. The latter had baptized nine persons the day before. In addition to them, Hinrich Coords, a weaver from Leer, and Christian Bonk, a merchant who also lived in Leer, were also part of the nucleus of the Ihren Baptist congregation. Coords and Bonk, who was ordained as an elder of the young congregation by Köbner, had already been baptised on 11 October 1845 by Johann Gerhard Oncken in a kolk near Leer. In the following months of 1846 more persons joined the congregation. Some of them came from Weener in the Rheiderland, where a preaching station of the congregation was established in the same year. The Baptists in Ihren were initially pastored by Johann Ludwig Hinrichs, a preacher from Jever, who soon moved to Ihren to assist in building up the congregation. Other well-known Baptist pioneers who worked in Ihren and from Ihren in East Frisia and in the Netherlands were Pieter de Neui and Harm Willms, a theologian in a peasant’s skirt.
Initially, founding members made their homes available for worship meetings. In 1854, the congregation purchased a plot of land from the landowner Geerd Alberts Roskam and began to build the house for worship there. It was the second Baptist church building built in Germany after the Felder Bethaus near Westerstede. A baptistery was added later in 1861. In 1855, the construction work was completed in Ihren, so that the dedication of the chapel could be celebrated on February 25 with about 400 guests. The festive sermon was held by Oncken.
The old chapel, which today – architecturally successful – into the overall complex of the community centre built in 1977, was originally a simple hall with a floor space of 17.30 metres by 8.10 metres. There were four windows on each of the two long sides. The main entrance was on the gable end facing the street. The inscription ” Haus zum Gottesdienst ” and the date of the laying of the foundation stone (1854) can still be found above it today. Above the entrance portal, a window rosette is set into the masonry. Entering the church through the main entrance, the first thing that caught the eye was the large pulpit, the importance of which was emphasized by an indicated apse. To the right and left of the pulpit were two doors leading into the plain rear side rooms. In front of the pulpit was the communion table, under which – closed by a lid – was the baptistery, later installed. The door and the pulpit-communion table ensemble were connected by a central aisle. Men and women sat separately in the pews located to the right and left of the center aisle in the early decades of the congregation. Opposite the pulpit side, a gallery was recessed to provide additional seating. In 1921, an addition was added to the Ihren Baptist Chapel. In 1977, an entirely new parish center was built and connected to the old chapel.
The new chapel is entered through a spacious foyer, where there are various seating areas in addition to the book table and cloakrooms. From here you can also reach the garden, which is equipped with playground equipment and a barbecue area. The group rooms on the ground floor and mezzanine can also be reached via the foyer, the size of which can be varied by means of flexible walls. The new worship space is furnished with light wood. In addition to the pulpit and communion table, the liturgical center includes the organ and the open baptistery. The organ was ordered in 1931 from the firm of Eberhard Friedrich Walcker & Cie. on the advice of the organ expert and honorary parish organist Enno Popkes, with ten stops on two manuals and pedal. Behind the communion table and baptismal font are colourful, artistically designed church windows. The worship hall, which also has modern sound and room technology, is furnished with upholstered chairs grouped slightly in a semicircle around the pulpit and table. If the adjoining group rooms are added, the new church can comfortably seat up to 350 worshippers.
The original church building now serves as a community space for larger events and celebrations.
Personalities associated with your Baptist Chapel
- Christian Bonk
- Johann Ludwig Hinrichs
- Harm Willms
- Johann Carl Cramer
- Johann Pieter de Neui
- Enno Popkes
- Wiard Popkes
- List of historical churches in East Frisia
- Menno Smid: Ostfriesische Kirchengeschichte (= East Frisiaunder the protection of the dike. Volume 6). Self-published, Pewsum 1974, pp. 539-546.
- Hans-Bernd Rödiger, Menno Smid: Frisian Churches in Emden, Leer, Borkum, Mormerland, Uplengen, Overledingen and Reiderland. Volume 3, published by C. L. Mettcker & Söhne, Jever 1980, p. 106.
- Karl Radtke, Baptist Church of Ihren (ed.): 150 Jahre Baptisten-Gemeinde Ihren. Ihren 1996.
– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
- Karl Radtke, Baptist congregation of Ihren (ed.): 150 years of the Baptist congregation of Ihren. Ihren 1996, p. 28.
- Menno Smid: East Frisian Church History. Pewsum 1974, p. 539 f.
- Homepage of the congregation of Rhaude: The founding of the Baptist congregation of yours. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
- Menno Smid: Ostfriesische Kirchengeschichte. Pewsum 1974, p. 541; see also State Archives Aurich: Die Baptisten im Amte Leer. Rep. 21a, No. 127, 1854-1861, pp. 3 ff.
- Karl Radtke, Baptist Church of Yours (ed.): 150 Years of the Baptist Church of Y ours. Ihren 1996, p. 24.
- Michael Heinze Evangelical Free Church congregation in your. Homepage of the congregation of Rhaude. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
- Unless otherwise noted, the building description is based on Benny Hugh Priddy: Der reformierte, mennonitische, altreformierte und baptistische Kirchenbau in Ostfriesland von der Reformation bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg (Dissertation), Vol. I, Münster 1984, p. 217 f.
- Karl Radtke, Baptist Church of Ihren (ed.): 150 Years of the Baptist Church of Ihren. Ihren 1996, p. 25.
- Karl Radtke, Baptist Church of Ihren (ed.): 150 Years of the Baptist Church of Ihren. Ihren 1996, p. 51.