Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Netherlands

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 16,716,000; Members, 8,709; Stakes, 3; Wards, 19; Branches, 15; Temples, 1; Percent LDS, .05, or one in 1,919; Europe Area.

In northwest Europe on the North Sea, The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is a constitutional monarchy with a Dutch- and Frisian-speaking population that is 31 percent Roman Catholic, 21 percent Protestant, 4 percent Muslim, 3 percent other, and 40 percent unaffiliated.

In June 1841, when Elder Orson Hyde was en route to Palestine, he spent more than a week in Rotterdam. While there, he engaged in gospel discussions with a leading Jewish Rabbi.

Paul Augustus Schettler and A. Wiegers van der Woude were set apart in the spring of 1861 to preach the gospel in the Netherlands. Van der Woude, a native of Holland, had been baptized in Cardiff, Wales, in 1852. He was possibly the first Dutchman to receive the gospel. The two arrived at Rotterdam on 5 August 1861. Van der Woude traveled to his home town of Friesland where he shared the gospel with relatives and on 1 October 1861 baptized three people including two cousins. These were the first known baptisms of Dutch people in the Netherlands. Schettler traveled to Amsterdam and on 23 December 1861 baptized three people. The two missionaries concentrated their labors in Amsterdam and soon had 14 converts. Early in 1862, they organized the first branch of the Church there. In 1863, missionary work and baptisms extended to Gorinchem, Leeuwarden, Rotterdam, Werkendam, and Heukelom.

The first company of 61 Dutch converts immigrated to Utah in the summer of 1864, and on 1 November 1864 the work in the Netherlands, which had been under the direction of the Swiss and German Mission, was placed under the newly-formed Netherlands Mission. By 22 October 1865, when the first conference meeting in the Netherlands was held in Gorinchem, there were three branches in Holland, namely, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Gorinchem.

The first two Dutch-language tracts were published in June 1866. During the 1860s and 1870s, the progress of the Church was slowed through organized opposition by mobs, ecclesiastical representatives, and the press. Missionaries also struggled with the languages spoken in the Netherlands, and by the lack of Church publications in Dutch.

In 1884, Heilige Lofzangen, the first Dutch language hymnal was published, and in 1889 John W. F. Volker completed a translation of the Book of Mormon. It was published in Amsterdam in 1890. In 1896, Dutch-speaking Saints received the first issues of De Ster, the first Church periodical in their language. The first Dutch Doctrine and Covenants was printed in Rotterdam in 1908 and was followed in 1911 by the Pearl of Great Price.

The Netherlands Mission purchased its first building, Excelsior Hall, in Rotterdam in 1908.

Because of the mobilization of military forces at the beginning of World War I, most American missionaries were withdrawn from Holland in 1914. Although 54 elders were released and reassigned to U.S. missions, a force of nine elders remained in Holland under the direction of mission President LeGrand Richards. Local Dutch leaders assumed full responsibility for the branches and districts. Holland remained neutral during the war, but placed restrictions on the number of missionaries who could serve primarily because of war-time food shortages. During the war years, 393 Dutch saints, including many local leaders immigrated to the United States. During the same period, 579 converts joined, largely due to a corps of Dutch women who served as district missionaries.

After the war, restrictions were lifted and missionaries were allowed to return. From 1921 to 1929, missionaries baptized 1,712 converts. From 1930 to 1945, however, the work made very little progress because of a severe economic depression and another world war.

In 1937, ground was broken at Rotterdam for the first Church-built chapel in the Netherlands. The building was dedicated on 3 April 1938 as the home of the Overmass Branch.

Missionaries were evacuated from Germany and other European countries in 1939 because of World War II. Thirteen of those serving in the West German Mission traveled first to Holland where they were hosted by the Netherlands Mission and the Dutch people. By late 1939, all missionaries and the mission president had departed, leaving responsibility for the 16 branches in Holland to a mission presidency made up of local Dutch leaders.

Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, killing more than 30,000 Netherlanders and destroying cities, including over one square mile of downtown Rotterdam. Excelsior Hall, home of the Rotterdam North Branch, was destroyed and many members were left homeless. The mission presidency raised $3,962 to be distributed among poor and displaced members. Under Nazi occupation all Church meetings were initially cancelled, but permission was obtained in 1941 to resume meetings although under surveillance of the German government.

Nazi occupation of the Netherlands ended in 1945, and on 28 February 1946, Cornelius Zappey, the newly appointed Netherlands Mission President, arrived in Rotterdam. Missionaries from America were not allowed to enter Holland because of the rigorous food rationing program in place. They were finally admitted in April 1946. President Zappey obtained the use of a large warehouse in Rotterdam and received Church shipments of food and clothing. After distribution of goods to members, additional shipments were distributed to the general public through the Dutch Red Cross. One of the great sacrifices of this time was the shipment of 70 tons of potatoes grown by the Dutch Saints to the Latter-day Saints in Germany. Later, an additional 90 tons of potatoes and 60 tons of herring were sent to Germany.

President David O. McKay met with Queen Juliana in the royal palace in 1953. An exchange of letters followed and the Queen accepted a specially-bound copy of the Book of Mormon from President McKay.

Official recognition of the Church was granted in August 1955, after nearly 20 years of petitioning. Legal recognition gave the Church rights to hold property and be exempt from taxation. It also meant that missionaries experienced less conflict with legal authorities while engaging in missionary work.

The Rotterdam South Ward meetinghouse was constructed and dedicated in 1955. On 12 March 1961, the Holland Stake in The Hague was organized with J. Paul Jongkees as president. This occurred 100 years after the beginning of missionary work in the Netherlands and marked the creation of the first stake on the European continent and the first non-English-speaking stake in the Church.

In the early 1960s, a major Church building program was instigated in western Europe. By 1966, there were 38 buildings in use as branch and ward meetinghouses.

During the first 100 years of the Church in The Netherlands, some 4,500 missionaries served there, and more than 14,000 people were baptized. A large percentage of those converts immigrated to the United States. However, after more temples were constructed in Europe, fewer members emigrated, and today, there are many second-, third-, and even fourth-generation members. Elder Jacob de Jager, who served in the Seventy, was the first General Authority born in Holland.

The Netherlands Amsterdam Mission was consolidated on 1 July 2002 with the Belgium Brussels Mission to form the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands Mission.

The Hague Netherlands Temple, the eighth in Europe, was dedicated 8 September 2002 by Gordon B. Hinckley. Dutch laws prohibit the construction of buildings that are closed to the public but the government granted an exemption for the temple

Membership reached 7,899 in 2002; and 8,006 in 2003. In 2005, membership reached 8,286.

Sources: Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; "Netherlands," Ensign, August, 1973; Keith C. Warner, "History of the Netherlands Mission 1861-1966," thesis, 1967; Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, 2000; Lyn R. Jacobs, Mormon non-English scriptures, hymnals, and periodicals, 1830-1986, 1986; Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., "Netherlands Awaits First Stake in Foreign Language," Church News, 11 March 1961; "1000 Members Witness Organization of Holland Stake," Church News, 25 March 1961; Dell Van Orden, "Visits Bless Lands of World," Church News, 14 August 1976; "Holland Stake Was a First 25 Years Ago," Church News, 9 March 1986; "Love of God Stressed in First Holland Regional Meet," Church News, 24 June 1984; "Members in Netherlands Gather Food," Church News, 17 March 1990; "Netherlands Cities Honor Church Member for Service," Church News, 20 November 1993; "Strengthening Youth Their Goal," Church News, 29 July 1995, "Netherlands Temple Announced," Church News, 28 August 1999; "Pylons Mark Progress of Temple," Church News, 27 January 2001; Shaun D. Stahle, "Seven New Missions Created," Church News, 9 March 2002; "Open House Dates Announced for Freiburg, The Hague Temples, Church News, 11 May 2002; O. Jay and Jeanette Call, "Netherlands: Pres. Hinckley Dedicates New Temple in The Hague," and "A New Day in This Great Nation," Church News, 14 September 2002.

Stakes — 3

(Listed alphabetically as of Oct. 1, 2009.)

No. / Name / Organized / First President

Europe Area

1720 Apeldoorn Netherlands 14 May 1989 Max Henning Van Der Put

933 *Rotterdam Netherlands 16 Oct 1994

Utrecht Netherlands 28 May 1978 Eugene M. Engelbert

326 *The Hague Netherlands 12 Aug 1976

*The Hague Holland

Holland 12 Mar 1961 Johan Paul Jongkees

ARUBA

Jan. 1, 2009; Est. population, 103,000; Members, 458; District, 1; Branches, 3;Percent LDS, .44, or one in 225; North America Southeast Area; Venezuela Caracas Mission.

An autonomous member of The Netherlands, Aruba is a flat, riverless island with wide beaches covering about 75 square miles. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Its citizens speak Dutch, English, Spanish and the local Papiamento.

Missionaries Clay Jorgensen and Julio Gonzalez were sent to Aruba on 20 January 1987 from the Venezuela Caracas Mission. When they arrived Jose Gonzalez was the only member on the island. He had joined the Church in Venezuela and had come to work in Curacao. The missionaries began meetings with Gonzalez, which provided the nucleus that led to the formation of the Aruba Branch. Selections of the Book of Mormon were translated into Papiamento in 1987. The San Nicolas Branch was formed on 18 June 1991.

Church President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve visited Aruba on 16 March 2001 while on their way to dedicate the temple in Uruguay. They met in the Aruba San Nicolas Branch meetinghouse with about 180 Latter-day Saints. This is believed to be the first time a Church president had visited the island. Since 2003 all Church meetings have been taught in Papiamento instead of Spanish or English.

Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy organized the Oranjestad Aruba District on 2 May 2004 with native Roland A. Odor as district president. The Santa Cruz Branch was created on the same day through a division of the Oranjestad Branch.

Sources: Venezuela Caracas Mission, Manuscript history; "Book of Mormon Now in 80 Languages," Ensign, March 1988; Jason Swensen, "Prophet Teaches, Motivates Caribbean Islanders," Church News, 24 March 2001; Allan J. Webb, Telephone conversation, 1 July 2004; Ingrid and Roland Odor, Telephone conversation, 2 July 2004; Clay Jorgensen, Telephone conversation, 6 July 2004.

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 227,000; Members, 889; District, 1; Branches, 5; percent LDS, .39,or one in 255; North America Southeast Area; West Indies Mission.

Made up of two groups of islands in the Caribbean, the Netherlands Antilles are considered part of The Netherlands. Its citizens speak Dutch, English, Spanish and the local Papiamento.

Ingeborg Zielinski went to school in the Netherlands and joined the Church there in October 1970. She returned to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles in September 1971. Over the next few years, she met with a few Latter-day Saints that temporarily lived in or visited the country.

In 1973, Zielinski was crowned Miss Curacao. She hosted hourly radio programs and taught the family home evening program and other gospel subjects, which were well received across the island, though she used a non-denominational approach to her show. She was the most well-known member of the Church on the island. She married and moved to the United States in 1982.

Missionary work was opened and closed on Curacao in 1978-1979 by the Venezuela Caracas Mission following many requests for missionaries by Zielinski. The Curacao Branch was created on 31 October 1979. Though missionaries had visited for a couple weeks at a time since 1972, it was not until mission president Wesley W. Craig, Jr. sent missionaries in 1982 and decided that meetings should be conducted in the local language of Papiamento that the Church began to progress among natives. A meetinghouse was dedicated in August 1988.

Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Seventy organized the Curacao Netherlands Antilles District on 9 May 2004 with Gary A. Pedersen as president. On the same day the Curacao Branch was divided into two branches.

Bonaire, which is part of Netherlands Antilles, had 79 members in 2004. The first branch was organized on 13 September 1990.

Membership in Netherlands Antilles in 2002 was 342.

Sources: Venezuela Caracas Mission, Manuscript history; "Book of Mormon now in 80 Languages," Ensign, March 1988; Allan J. Webb, Telephone conversation, 1 July 2004.

ST. MAARTEN

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 30,000; Members, 202; Branches, 1; Percent LDS, .67, or one in 149; North America Southeast Area; West Indies Mission.

The Clair Dinane family was baptized on Guadeloupe in 1980 and moved to St. Maarten on 1 December 1982. They held meetings with Utah natives Stirling and Mary Jane Wadley until the Wadley's returned to the United States, and then the Dinanes held meetings by themselves or with other visiting American families. On 16 January 1984 Kenneth Zabriskie president of the West Indies Mission organized the St. Maarten Branch and called Clair Dinane as president. In 1984, Thad Ariens and Victor Quarty were the first missionaries to arrive. They taught in English on an island jointly administered between the Dutch and French governments. Robert Salomons arrived on the Dutch side of the island on 14 April 1985 and was called as first counselor to Clair Dinane in May 1985. Later that year, the Salomons began holding meetings in Dutch with the help of missionaries that arrived on 11 August 1985.

The St. Maarten and Marigot branches were combined to form the Phillipsburg Branch in August 1992 with Arnold Blazek as president. Property was purchased for a chapel in January 1992. Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy visited on 7 January 2002 and met with members of the branch.

Sources: France Toulouse Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; Kenneth L. Zabriskie, History of the West Indies Mission [ca. 1989], Church Archives; West Indies Mission, Mission history and historical reports, Church Archives.