An anthology of the minutes of the Reformed Church Council
in Marrum-Westernijkerk, second half of the 19th century (1848-1897)

Compiled by Andries Dijkstra / Translated by Els Ordeman -Wagenaar

Generally the church council met four times a year in those days, usually in February, May, August or September and once in November. Depending on the need or problems, did one deviate from it. Virtually all meetings had "Censura Morem" as a fixed point on the agenda.
"The celebrations of the Holy Communion August 26th 1866 fixed, questions were asked around the table about the behavior of the parishioners, no difficulties were brought forwards".
Besides that, a lot of attention was usually paid to the relief for the poor and "destitute people". With regularity "Nijkerk" is named in the minutes, meaning the community of Westernijkerk (just north of Marrum). Shortly after 1580 the earlier independent parishes of Marrum and Westernijkerk formed a durable bond as the Reformed Church Marrum-Westernijkerk. The sentences in "italics" are literally taken from the minutes.

We read in the minutes of November 28th 1848 that the elders and deacons were appointed and not chosen. "Before appointing new members of the church council, the elder from Marrum suggested to appoint a second elder for Marrum, as to bring the numbers of elders from Marrum to two". The men brethren, after checking the rules, agreed. And not only that, an important point also "was the advanced age of the elder from Nijkerk, it was difficult to replace him with somebody else". They totally agreed to appoint a second one. It would be Folkert Rijpstra (1), living in Marrum but born in Nijkerk. (2)

Furthermore a lot of modifications, changes and regulations were send by the synod, all were read and they were to provide comments on all. Well, they didn’t take it too serious; they argued "that because of this council, no considerations would be send".

Sometimes the appointments of the members of church council caused some problems. In 1850 W.P.van der Zaag (3) made himself available again and after "he made it known he would let himself stand" was reappointed without much debate. For Westernijkerk this progressed more laboriously "because of lack of suitable members". After much discussion and praising the retiring deacon D.J. van der Mey as a solid citizen, last-named was prepared "to burden himself with the administration of the diaconate again for the next year". The honorable "Klaas Klazes Osinga was appointed unanimously as the new elder of Marrum". And he let himself be heard! (4)

At the next meeting, we write March 9th 1851, during the round -table questioning he brought forward the following; "that during the communion the organ would be silent and the singing would be controlled by the chorister". Yes, that organ…donated by lady Collot d’Escury and the taxpayers in 1831 to the church council, remained a new-fashioned novelty. They all did agree, but they "judged it advisable" to first run a test and only "if it came out the same", a definitive decision would be made. And so it happened, during the next communion the organ was silenced. It was evident at the next meeting in August 1851 that the test had been successful and so in the future "the communion service would be sung without the use of the organ".
In the same meeting Reverend de Boer declared that "he planned to request retirement from his majesty the King". In those times such a request was directed to the King, as head of the state church. The church council had no objections, Reverend could present his request. The consultants, Reverend Rutgers of Hallum and Reverend van Tropen of Finkum and surrounding areas, drew up a design for a written testimonial, which after approval was send to the King. Reverend Boer said his goodbyes in the church of Marrum on a Sunday afternoon in June 1852. "May his work and also his departure from the parish on June 27, at which he spoke powerful, serious and charitable from 1 Joh: 28a, remain a long blessed memory! Well than, children, stay with Him!"

Yes…. and then they needed a new minister. Quickly it became clear that this would present some unforeseen problems. It became an issue that hurt the reformed church council even more, than when the separation on December 4th 1835 in Marrum became a fact. What was the problem exactly? Let’s start reading the minutes of August 4th 1852:

"The stipulation of the time, on which the appointing of a new minister will take place, was the reason why the church council met now and deliberated".

According to the rules of 1826 a call should go out three months after an opening was created. The taxpayers could not go that fast, they needed more time to introduce changes and to "stipulate the salary to fl. 1.500". With this came "free housing in the rectory and use of the rectory garden". It was not certain whether "the higher Governments" who indeed would have to approve their changes, would give their approval on time.
The three church guardians of Marrum and the trio of Westernijkerk believed they should ask for dispensation and in such a way that "His Majesty would permit the church council to postpone the hiring for two months". The requested dispensation was granted by "the Minister of Finances, provisionally charged with the governing and business of the Department of the Reformed Congregations, etc."

During an extraordinary church council meeting on January 1st  (!) 1853 it was mentioned that also a second request for a postponement was granted by the Minister of Finance. But that wasn’t the real reason for the special meeting. The reason was the written request by elder Rijpstra to "be dismissed and as soon as possible!" During the "Censura Morem" on February 22nd 1853 it was decided, because of "given annoyances", to deny communion access to member Rijpstra. Apparently "the abuse of liquor" was Rijpstra’s problem. But he was not the only one, one Sipke Hovinga would be very seriously talked to for the same reasons by the advisor Reverend Rutgers.

(1) - Folkert Pieters Rijpstra, died in Marrum on 25-07-1873, 77 years old, married.
(2) - Till 1951 all material goods (real-estate) were managed independently in the reformed church Marrum-Westernijkerk and several citizens from Westernijkerk had to
       serve as deacons in the church council.
(3) - Willem Piers van der Zaag, died in Marrum on 17-06-1877, 81 years old, widower of Froukje Aelzes de Roo.
(4) - Klaas Klazes Osinga, died Westernijkerk on 17-11-1877, 74 years old, widower.

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