One of the most remarkable church buildings in North Groningen and an exceptionally colorful appearance: that is the Mariakerk in Uithuizermeeden. In two weeks, on Friday, June 17, that church will change hands. The Protestant community gives it to the Oude Groninger Kerken Foundation, which will thus receive its hundredth church and thus preserve the cultural heritage of Groningen. The tower may look familiar to Stadjers, because it was designed by the same architect as the one at Der Aa church in Groningen.
On Friday, June 17, 2022, the Mariakerk in Uithuizermeeden will be handed over to the Old Groninger Church Foundation (SOGK). With the transfer of this church, the foundation has exactly one hundred churches in its possession (in addition to 2 synagogues, 62 cemeteries and 9 (exempt) towers). A festive moment, but at the same time full of emotions for the part that moves. The foundation will take care of the church so that it is preserved for the future. René Paas, King’s Commissioner of Groningen and patron of the foundation, will deliver a speech during this special occasion.
Foundation of the Old Churches of Groninger
The Oude Groninger Kerken Foundation was founded on May 13, 1969, a time when many churches were threatened with serious decline. Thanks to the initiative of a group of very committed and motivated people, the foundation committed to the preservation of churches as heritage was established.
The foundation is committed to the material and functional preservation of the monumental churches in Groningen and its surroundings. The material and the functional go hand in hand at the SOGK, because the old churches of Groningen are not only valuable historical buildings, but are also traditionally meeting places. In addition to preserving the beautiful heritage, the foundation also wants to increase interest in it. This is done, among other things, by opening the doors of as many churches as possible and presenting a diverse range of activities. In this way a wide public can enjoy the valuable heritage.
Hundredth Church: Mariakerk Uithuizermeeden
The slender white tower with blue roofs can be seen from afar. The church building is situated on a mound and under construction dates from the mid-13th century. This late Romanesque church is dedicated to Mary. In the 16th century the church was enlarged with a Gothic choir and in 1705 the extension with transepts was added, turning it into a large cruciform church.
The exterior of the church was plastered in the 19th century. This has been done in a very rich way with, among other things, imitation natural stone blocks and trimmed profile frames around the windows. This gave the church a very classical appearance.
Originally, the church had a free-standing tower. This was replaced in 1717-1726 by an attached tower. The roofs of the towers are painted in a very characteristic blue color. In the tower hangs a bell cast in 1897 by Petit & Fritsen in Aarle-Rixtel. This was cast to replace the bell that was lost in the fire.
The organ was built in 1785 by the organ builder AA Hinsz. The organ has recently been completely restored by the organ builder Reil de Heerde, under the advice of Stef Tuinstra. The goal was to get even closer to the original Hinszorgel and the original timbre. The richly executed front with many carvings and gilding is finished in the authentic colors.
The residents of Rensemaborg were of great importance to the church. They had the right of collation and the crypt under the choir was their property. The 1705 reconstruction was capped off with the installation of knight’s benches in 1708 and a pulpit and baptismal screen in the southeast corner of the celebration. These are highlights in the work of box maker Allert Meijer and woodcarver Jan de Rijk. The rear bulkheads of the men’s pews act as a seal for the choir, separating the choir from the rest of the church and turning it into a communion space. Here is also the grave from 1754 for Rudolf Huinga. Above the choir entrance hangs a mourning plaque from 1786 for Jonkheer Willem Alberda van Rensema.
Eventually, a local committee will get to work on (organizing) activities in and around the church. In this way, the church is opened to a wider public to enjoy this beautiful heritage.
Photos: Old Groninger Churches Foundation, Duncan Wijting