Latitude (N) : 50.409952 | Longitude (E) : 3.838054
After the young Belgian State recognised freedom of worship, many Protestant communities came to Belgium and settled all over the country, and even more so in the Borinage where they were quite active. However, these local communities had very little external support as there were no structures to organize their relations with each other or with the public authorities.
In order to address this structural and representational issue, an institutional body, the Union of Evangelical Protestant Churches of the Kingdom of Belgium, was founded in 1839.
The union put in place an “evengelisation committee” whose missions were to support protestant elementary schools, to finance the construction of new Churches and to develop a peddling network (to distribute bibles).
With the support of the committee, the protestant community of Wasmes, which until then had neither pastors nor places of worship, started to congregate in the summer of 1878 in a former dance hall, the so-called “Salon du Bébe” (Baby Hall). Vincent van Gogh was appointed there as an evangelist a few months later, on the recommendation of artist-evangelist Abraham van der Waeyen Pieterzen, who was then a general agent on the evangelization committee and a member of the steering committee of the Flemish College of evangelists in Brussels, where Van gogh was then struggling to complete an accelerated evangelist training.
In Wasmes, Van Gogh’s mission was to support two pastors in conducting worship, spreading the word of the gospel, leading reading groups or visiting the sick. However, van Gogh never had the opportunity to preach in the protestant temple, as it was only built 20 years after he left the Borinage, in 1987.
Temple of Petit-Wasmes
Rue du Pasteur Lhost,1
7340 Wasmes (Colfontaine)