Seceders meeting at a house

During the years 1618-1619 the Synod of Dordrecht was held which confirmed the Calvinism doctrines of the Reformed Church. During the 17th and 18th century however, the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands gradually began to drift away from Calvinism and slowly but surely moved towards liberalism. Not all church members were pleased with this and continued to stick to the orthodox Reformed theology. One of them was Rev. Hendrik de Cock from the town of Ulrum in the province of Groningen who strongly opposed against the liberals. He didn’t beat around the bush in making that clear: he called his liberal fellow-ministers “wolves” at the same time accusing them of being false and committing perjury. Also rumours had it that he had called the hymns a collection of “whoresongs”. In no time he received support from many conservative members of the church so apparently it worked.

The actual Secession began when Rev. de Cock was no longer permitted to preach nor baptize children whose parents refused to have them baptized by their own liberal ministers. At that moment a large majority of the congregation of the Dutch Reformed Church in Ulrum seceded. The movement spread very quickly. Rev. de Cock was joined by a number of other ministers - a.o. Scholte and van Raalte - who gave leadership to Secession churches elsewhere. In Friesland this was a young man from the town of Drogeham: Rev. Simon van Velzen .
((On the side: Simon van Velzen was the son of a boarding-school master in Amsterdam. In 1830 he went to the university of Leiden to study theology for which purpose another wellknown (future) Seceder had arrived in Leiden the year before: H.P. Scholte. During the Belgian revolt of 1830 both van Velzen as Scholte joined the Dutch army as volunteers. In connection herewith their friend Rev. A. Brummelkamp Jr. once remarked: "One might say that they spent the first years of their theology study carrying a gun". When van Velzen and Scholte returned to Leiden they constituted, along with a couple of friends like A.C. van Raalte, a group which soon was known as "Scholte's club". The group strongly opposed to the liberation of religion and in a way they were already Seceders while studying at the university. In 1832 Scholte and some other members of the group left Leiden which was the end of "Scholte's Club". Rev. Simon van Velzen was 26 years young when the Secession started in 1834.))

The authorities did not favour the Secession, to say the least: an old law forbidding unauthorized meetings of more than 20 persons was (re)introduced in order to prevent the Seceders to have their own church services. Furthermore the Seceders were persecuted for a number of years. Some of their ministers were imprisoned, those who assisted them were often excessively fined and sometimes soldiers were even quartered in the homes of these "trouble makers".
This approach finally ended in 1840 when William II, who was more inclined to negotiate a compromise than his father William I, became king. However, although the Seceders now had the freedom to practise their own religion and believes, it is not the end of the story. Thus: to be continued ....

Evidently the Secession of 1834 had a big impact in the Netherlands, not only from a religious point of view but also from a social, historical and genealogical perspective. Throughout the country it had caused a lot of commotion, intolerance, riots, etc. Also in Ferwerderadeel: ill treatment in combination with a (very) poor standard of living, was reason for many Seceders to emigrate. Some to South America, most to North America.

The first Seceders in Ferwerderadeel: