Ouderling (Elder; French, Ancien), a function found in the Dutch Reformed Church and occasionally also among the Dutch Mennonites in the 17th-19th centuries. This function was not the same as that of an elder among the Mennonites of America, i.e., a minister who has been ordained to baptize, to administer communion, and to perform marriages; such a minister was formerly called "oudste" or "leeraar tot ten vollen dienst," by the Dutch Mennonites. The "ouderling" is a lay member of the church board, whose function among the Reformed is to supervise the local congregation; among the Mennonites the function usually was restricted to the control of the congregational finances. Ouderlingen were found in only a few Dutch Mennonite congregations, particularly at Leiden, where this name and function existed in the Waterlander congregation in the last decades of the 17th century and in the Waterlander and Flemish congregation (united 1701) until 1763. Besides the control of finances, they with the preachers paid annual visits to the members of the church. In the Workum congregation ouderlingen are mentioned in 1692, but in 1710 the name of ouderling was abolished here. In Bovenknijpe the name and function of ouderling was found until 1877.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1878): 131.
Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1903): 89.
Poole, L. G. le. Bijdragen tot de kennis van . . . de Doopsgezinden te Leiden. Leiden: 1905: 76, 123-125 et passim.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 98. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1959). Ouderling. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O914.html.