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22 BULLETIN OF FRIENDS' HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION FRIENDS IN HOLLAND IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY By Maria C. Heldring Bye DURING the nineteenth century the Society of Friends, which during the previous century had been vital as a Quaker movement, had died out in the Netherlands. In the beginning of the twentieth century we find among other tendencies two outstanding trends of thought. On one side there were the conservatives trained in the rigid theological doctrines of Calvinism, and on the other side there were the liberals. The members of the first group stoically disciplined themselves to kill all emotion by adhering to orthodox dogmas ; the latter group on the other hand was held in the cold embrace of materialism. Editor's Note.—The history of Quakerism in Holland is yet to be written. The Dutchman Willem Sewel, who was so vitally interested in Quakerism, mentions the spread of Quakerism in Holland in Chapters 6, 7, and 9, but devotes most of his attention to developments in Great Britain, so that the detailed story we might have had from a skilful historical writer, with access to the original data, was never written. Braithwaite, in The Beginnings of Quakerism, pp. 406-413, gives an outline of the missionary work of William Caton and John Stubbs in Holland in 1655, and of William Ames and Stubbs the following year, as a result of which meetings were started at Amsterdam and Rotterdam . The Dutch outpost was used as a basis for further missionary work on the Continent. Quakerism flourished, spread to some ninety-five Dutch towns, was persecuted, and declined, until finally there was but one Quaker left, Jean Etienne Mollet, who died in 1851. The minutes of Friesland Monthly Meeting, held at Harlingen, were discovered at Devonshire House in London by William I. Hull ; the minutes of Amsterdam meetings were known to William Savery when he visited Amsterdam in 1797, but cannot now be found. It is thought that they may have been taken to London for safe keeping, and destroyed in the fire of the Grace Church Street Meeting House, of 1831. The entire course of Quakerism in Holland is receiving definitive treatment at the hands of William I. Hull, in a series of monographs published under the auspices of the Howard M. Jenkins Research Professorship of Quaker History in Swarthmore College. Three of the monographs have appeared; nine more are planned. This article and the following one treat of the rebirth of Quakerism in Holland in the twentieth century. FRIENDS IN HOLLAND23 The need for true Christianity was as strong as ever, but present religious values had to be recoined. It was in 1904 that students from the University of Leiden began to go to Woodbrooke, the Seminary of the Friends in the neighborhood of Birmingham, England, where Rendel Harris was director of studies. Dr. Harris had declined to accept a professorship at Leiden University the previous year, realizing that his influence would have a wider scope if he remained in his own country. However, England was the point of departure for the reestablishment of Quakerism in the Netherlands. In the four years which followed, between thirty and forty people from the Netherlands became students at Woodbrooke. There they found warmth in the friendly atmosphere of this hospitable center, where in the common room they assembled to sing Newman's hymn, "Lead kindly light, lead thou me on." They got acquainted with Whittier's hymn, "Dear Lord and Father of mankind," and contemplated the meaning of "Drop thy still dews of quietness till all our strivings cease." These intellectual Dutchmen, who delighted in theological controversies, began to understand now the power of silent worship, called to mind again and again by the semicircular lunette over the mantelpiece in the library representing Peter Martyr with his index finger on his lips, symbol of the practice of silent worship. After these students returned home they held meetings every few months, meetings which began in the Quaker manner with a period of silence. On December 28, 1908 (the day of the Messina earthquake), thirty young people (probably all under thirty years of age) gathered in the home of Jan Lodewijk Heldring (my father) in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 22-25
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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