The curtain seems to be falling for the churches of Schoonebeek and Steenwijksmoer, other churches are still unclear

To dispose of the Catholic churches in Schoonebeek and Steenwijksmoer in the long term, that is the conclusion after research into the future of the churches. For the houses of worship in Barger-Compascuum, Zwartemeer and Klazienaveen in the Emmer sub-area De Blokken, it is still being investigated whether the churches can be used for other activities. The idea with the latter is that a small part of the churches in question are retained for services.

It is the outcome of the real estate research by the Immanuel Parish and the Holy Maria Duchess of Drenthe Parish respectively. All Catholic parishes in Southeast Drenthe are conducting research into the future of their churches due to the declining number of visits and members. The Diocese of Leeuwarden-Groningen has therefore asked the parishes to critically examine their own building policy. The outcome is sent as advice to the bishop, who may or may not agree.

There are three Catholic communities in Southeast Drenthe. The Good Shepherd Parish is the third in this region.

The Immanuel parish has been considering the future of its own real estate for the longest time. The community currently uses five churches in Schoonebeek, Nieuw-Schoonebeek, Coevorden, Weiteveen and Steenwijksmoer.

According to church director Bernard Meulman, the idea is to dispose of the buildings in Schoonebeek and Steenwijksmoer in the long term. “We have looked at the development of the number of parishioners and church attendance. In the long term, it looks like this will decrease.” The high average age certainly plays a role in this. “Which also affects the number of volunteers.” The parish has chosen to divide the area into an east (Steenwijksmoer and Coevorden) and west side (Schoonebeek, Nieuw-Schoonebeek and Weiteveen).

Meulman cannot yet say how the disposal of the two churches will work. The diocese has given the parish until 2030 to find another function for these two buildings. By the way, the church in Steenwijksmoer has a monumental status. This does not apply to Schoonebeek.

The content will also be a subject of discussion with the location councils. According to Meulman, the preference is mainly for a social destination. And preferably not commercially. “There certainly won’t be a casino or anything like that.”

At the Holy Maria Duchess of Drenthe Parish, research is being done into the future use of three of the four churches within this community. This concerns the buildings in Zwartemeer, Klazienaveen and Barger-Compascuum. Only the (monumental) church in Emmer-Compascuum remains untouched, according to André Zwake of the buildings committee. “The church in Emmer-Compascuum is spacious and still in good condition. It is a good location for larger groups and events, such as weddings and funerals.” The aim is that this and the church in Barger-Compascuum (also monumental) remain standing.

It is not yet possible to say what fate awaits the two non-monumental churches in Klazienaveen and Zwartemeer. But for these two and the church in Barger-Compascuum, the possibilities of using the buildings for other purposes are currently being examined. The basic principle is that a small part of the church is retained for worship.

The parish council is already in discussions with various local parties, Zwake said. As far as Barger-Compascuum is concerned, there is interest in using the parsonage as a daytime activity. Within the village itself, there is a great desire for a multifunctional village hall. The church has also been involved in discussions about this, Zwake said. “But what will come of it is still very much the question.”

Churchgoers in Klazienaveen and Zwartemeer have been urged to take into account the possible option of renovation or partial demolition and reconstruction. Consider, for example, a combination of homes and church space, says Zwake. It is not yet possible to say whether such a choice will lead to the disposal of the properties. Zwake: “That really depends on the new function that is devised for the locations.”

At the Good Shepherd Parish (Emmermeer, Emmerschans, Erica and Barger-Oosterveld), the bishop has advised to close Emmerschans. The other three locations can now remain open. According to pastor Peter Stiekema, there are no plans for other uses.