Singelkerk

The Singelkerk, Singel 452 (Church)

The Singelkerk is a church, that is situated in Amsterdam between the Singel and the Herengracht. It is called a hidden church because it is not recognizable from the outside as a church.

History

From about 1530 Mennonite meetings took place in Amsterdam in private homes. At that time they were not permitted to establish their own churches. At the beginning of the 17th century Mennonites were accepted and were allowed to make use of their church buildings. These were called initially admonitions.

The Singelkerk was established in 1607 when a yard on the Singel was purchased by Harmen Hendriksz. Van Warendorp. He had a barn erected there which was intended to be a meeting place for Flemish Mennonites. This building was called “The Lamb”, so called because there was a lamb on the gable of a nearby brewery (this building is now a disco called Odeon).

The barn was replaced by a larger church in 1639 – the size of the current church building. This new building was closer the Herengracht. In 1839 the roof was replaced, which resulted in the building taking the form it currently has. Initially, the semicircular doors on Singel 454 were the entrance to the church. The building was gradually enlarged and Singel 452 was taken over. Located there was a room for the church council, the library, katechisatie- and meeting rooms.

Interior

Noteworthy are the folding chairs in the middle of the church area, which were previously stacked up in the vestibule. Women, on payment of a penny, took a chair and placed it somewhere in the middle of the church area. Seating in the benches were rented to wealthier parishioners. The poorer parishioners and the children from the orphanage ‘The Orange Apple’ sat in the second gallery. Inside, on the wall beside the door of church council room, a plaque can be seen referring to this orphanage.

In the long corridor from the Singel to the church area, schematic representation of the history of the Anabaptist churches in Amsterdam can be seen. The names of the deacons and ministers from the beginning to the present date are also listed there.
Opposite these lists of names can be seen a table top from the library of the seminary, where traditionally all graduates carved their names.

Usage

The church is still used as a church of the Mennonite Community of Amsterdam. The Mennonite Church is also located at Singel 454, as is the Baptist Center for Church and the Baptist Seminary. Because of its good acoustics, the church is often rented for the purpose of concerts, rehearsals or music recordings