Catholic church Emmerschans closes, fate of Klazienaveen and Zwartemeer churches uncertain

There are concerns in more parishes in the region. For example, the Maria Hertogin Parish (with churches in Emmer-Compascuum, Barger-Compascuum, Klazieveen and Zwartemeer). Earlier this year, the provisional conclusion was drawn that, if the helm is not changed, it is impossible to make a balanced budget. The churches – in addition to church services – should be used for other purposes.

However, the tide does not seem to have turned, so churches have to close. The idea is that the two monumental churches (Emmer-Compascuum and Barger-Compascuum) will be preserved. But they do not necessarily have to retain a church function. For the two churches without monumental status (Klazienaveen and Zwartemeer) there is talk of ‘possible rebuilding for repurposing’. That could be housing, for example, but there are no concrete plans yet.

According to Vice-President Henk Kuhl, there is no official advice yet. “More of a bare-bones conclusion we’ve drawn.” In the autumn, the church board will talk to the community again about the further elaboration of the advice. Should it come to the disposal of one of the church buildings, the board wants to give loyal visitors the opportunity to visit the church in their own village for as long as possible. “The idea is then to start looking for a local, replacement location.”

There are concrete and less concrete ideas for a new role for the churches. The presbytery of the church in Barger-Compascuum falls into the first category. Klaas and Marita Hegeman, the owners of café De Buuf, which closed this month, would like to start a daytime activity for the elderly at that location. According to Kuhl, “serious talks” are currently being held about this. “Furthermore, the village council is looking for opportunities to maintain the quality of life in Barger-Compascuum.”

Another wish is a multifunctional accommodation or village house. Could a church play a role in that case? That is too short-sighted and a question asked too early, says Kuhl. “But we’re monitoring the conversation from a distance and following this development.”

The parish has until the end of the year to submit their inquiry report, which will clarify more. The same also applies to the Immanuel parish, with churches in Steenwijksmoer, Coevorden, Schoonebeek, Nieuw-Schoonebeek and Weiteveen.

The latter parish had already published a report six months ago with six possible scenarios. “They ranged from doing nothing to rejecting everything and everything in between,” said church administrator Bernard Meulman. “We have now discussed the report with all locations. It is now up to the board and the location councils to map out a strategy together.”

The possible divestment of churches, with which the building will change hands, does not seem to be an issue for the time being, he explains. “In our case, there is a financially healthy parish, despite the prospect of decreasing income and the decline of parishioners. But for now that is not a bottleneck, so there is no need to close now.”