Evangelisch Lutherse Gemeente Groningen

The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Groningen is well-over three hundred years old and numbers about 230 members, most living in the city and in the western part of the province. The service begins each Sunday at 10:00 AM and is followed by an opportunity to meet one another and drink a cup of coffee.

The congregation demonstrates its Lutheran heritage by its participation in a rich, historical liturgical tradition. To hear the Word of God read and preached, and to praise, give thanks, and pray in the company of others is at the heart of our congregational life.

The Lutheran Church is often called a ‘singing’ church, and that can be seen in every service, whether it be in the responses between the pastor and the congregation or in the many psalms and hymns sung. The church's choir, de ‘Cantorij’, sings once a month and there are also frequent ‘music services’ with visiting choirs or soloists. The church's newly-restored 1896 van Oeckelen organ also plays an important part in our worship and in our musical outreach to the city in which we live.
Another aspect of the Lutheran tradition is its climate of freedom, rooted in the understanding that everyone is responsible for his or her own relationship with God, with which no church authority has the right to interfere. With such a point of view, there comes an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for each person's way of believing.

One might say, then, that good liturgy, good preaching, good music, and tolerance of diversity are the marks of the Lutheran religious life.

As with almost all Lutheran congregations in the Netherlands, the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Groningen is a ‘diaspora’ congregation. This means that its members are spread over a large geographical area. About half its members live in or near the city and the rest elsewhere in the region, from Delfzijl in the north to the tip of Drenthe in the south, from the Frisian border in the west to Hoogezand-Sappemeer in the east. It has a broad membership, from young to old, from hand-worker to professor, and an international tint, as well, with members from countries with a strong Lutheran presence, such the United States, the Scandinavian countries and, not least, our neighbour, Germany.

In addition to the Sunday service, the congregation has other events. During part of the main service, there is a children's group on the side. For those twelve and over, there is a special Catechism group. Two or three times a year, there is a congregational meeting to discuss matters relevant to the whole church. Once a month, there is a Bible study-group. For those who live in the Westerkwartier, there is a special discussion group. Many members are also active in the daily running of the congregation, through work on committees and councils, through taking care of the church, visiting the elderly and the sick, and the like. A recent good development is the formation of de Cantorij, which rehearses three times a month.

Though Lutherans form the largest protestant group world-wide, in the Netherlands, they are but a tiny minority within the large Calvinist majority. The origins of the Lutheran community in Groningen go back to the early part of the seventeenth century, but the earliest formal record we have that they existed is a note in the minutes of the city consistory from 1643, reminding the Watch that they were responsible for preventing Lutheran house-services. A pastor was called in 1647, but he had to leave the city two years later. During the Siege of Groningen in 1672, the defense was lead by a member of the congregation, Capt. Rabenhaupt, and the seeds were sown for an agreement to let the congregation build a church. Money for its construction came mostly from the congregation itself, but there were also donations from the Lutheran congregation in Amsterdam and from the kings of Sweden and Denmark. It had to be a schuilkerk [hidden church]. This meant that it was not allowed to be seen from the street as a church and it was not allowed to have a tower or bells. This is why, even today, many who use the Haddingestraat daily are completely unaware that there is a church there.

The current pastor of the congregation is Susanne Freytag. She comes from Hamburg, took her university degree in Germany and did her pastoral studies in The Netherlands. After her education, she was called by the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Groningen and ordained here in 1996.

Current information about the congregation appears in the congregational newsletter, Opbouw, which can be found in the Foyer and may taken home. Of course, you may also leave your name and address and we shall send it to you free.