Sociëteit van Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Friesland (Conference of Mennonite Congregations in Friesland)
The Sociëteit van Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Friesland (Conference of Mennonite Congregations in Friesland) is usually called Friese Sociëteit (F.D.S.). This conference was founded in 1695 after other conferences had been founded in North Holland (the Frisian Conference and Waterlander or Rijper Conference) and in South Holland. A tour of Friesland by Jan van Ranst of Rotterdam seems to have contributed much to the foundation of the Friese Societeit (DB 1872, 64). The first meeting of the Frieze Societeit was held on 16 May 1695. The aims of this conference were from its beginning to maintain love and peace among the congregations, to take care of poor congregations, and especially to subsidize the congregations which were unable to pay the salaries of their ministers. In later times new tasks were undertaken; pensioning of aged and ill ministers, of the widows and orphans of ministers (Weduwenfonds 1804), and a study fund (Friesch Studiefonds 1859).
Initially the Friese Sociëteit was subdivided into four Klassen (groups)—Harlingen, Franeker, Dokkum, and Sneek; but this division was soon abandoned, only a number of congregations in the southwest part of the province forming a special group, the Zuiderklasse. In 1706-1772 this Zuiderklasse acted as an independent conference. From the beginning the F.D.S. met annually at Leeuwarden, 1695-1710 on the first Wednesday after Pentecost, 1710-1804 on the first Friday after Pentecost, from then on the first Thursday after Pentecost. The conference has a board, first of eight representatives of the congregations, later of 10.
In 1695, 47 of the congregations of the province of Friesland joined the conference. In course of time another nine congregations joined, those of Balk and Ameland not before 1855. Since then some congregations have died out or merged. In 1955 all 44 congregations in the province of Friesland were members of the F.D.S. From 1695 until about 1800 also two congregations in the province of Groningen, i.e., Groningen, United Flemish and Waterlander congregation, and the Flemish congregation at Sappemeer, were members of the F.D.S. The work of this conference has proved to be of great importance. Though it could not prevent the dissolution of a number of churches, it has contributed much to the solidity and harmony of the congregations in Friesland. It generously supported the relief work in behalf of the Swiss and Prussian Mennonites in the first decades of the 18th century. A special meeting of the conference was held when in 1739 two Mennonite ministers of Friesland were suspended by the government (see Wytze Jeens and Pieke Tjommes). Then the F.D.S. sent a petition to the States of Friesland. After Johannes Stinstra, Mennonite minister of Harlingen and president of the Friese Societeit, was suspended by the States of Friesland in 1742 another special meeting was held and a petition sent to the States of Friesland, which, however, was unsuccessful.
In 1797 the board of the F.D.S. declined an invitation of the government of Friesland to appoint at their own cost a theological professor to the University of Franeker, because the board was of opinion that the Amsterdam Mennonite Seminary was adequate to supply the needs of training their ministers. Until 1859 the F.D.S. sometimes also appointed proponenten (ministerial candidates) after they had been examined by a committee. After 1859 no candidates were appointed any more, the conference of Friesland leaving this matter to the Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit (Dutch General Conference). The oration delivered on 6 June 1895 by P. W. Feenstra, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the F.D.S., was published in Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1895.
Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Friesland. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff, 1839: 183-191, 193, 195, 197 f., 199 f., 202-205, 209-211, 213, 220 f.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1872): 64; (1895): 1-33.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: I, Nos. 952-958.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 411-412. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Sociëteit van Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Friesland (Conference of Mennonite Congregations in Friesland)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/societeit_van_doopsgezinde_gemeenten_in_friesland.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1956). Sociëteit van Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Friesland (Conference of Mennonite Congregations in Friesland). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/societeit_van_doopsgezinde_gemeenten_in_friesland.