Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Conferentie Versus Coetus

In my last post, I wrote about the division in the Reformed Dutch Church in Kingston, New York between 1766 and 1772. I had noted during this period that some baptisms were performed by Domine Hermanus Meyer. His name was followed by the word Coetus. Whereas, other baptisms were performed by ministers whose names were followed by the word Conferentie and the phrase, "from xxx," where xxx is the name of a town other than Kingston.

Dutch parents typically had a newborn baptized within a week after the child's birth. However, during this period parents in this church appear to have had infrequent, mass baptisms performed by a minister of another congregation. I usually observed this behavior when a community did not have a minister and had to wait for a minister of another church come to town.

Kingston, known as Wiltwyck before the English gained control of the Dutch colony, had a Reformed Dutch Church with a full-time minister since the 1600s. Even during this period, the church had a full-time minister, Domine Meyer. The clue to what happened in 1766 and the next six years was in the words Conferentie and Coetus.

Reformed Dutch ministers, called domine, were sent to the North American colony from the Netherlands by the Classis of Amsterdam. The Classis of Amsterdam found it difficult to recruit clergy to go to America so the colonists sent prospective clergy to the Netherlands to be educated and ordained as ministers of the Reformed Dutch Church. As this was expensive, the population in the American colony was growing, and the Dutch government was no longer in control of the colony, some members of the Reformed Dutch Church began to push for educating and ordaining ministers in  America.

As time marched into the 18th century, business and education outside the home was conducted in English. Subsequent generations of descendants of the Dutch were not speaking Dutch even at home so there grew another reason that the congregants were pushing for home-grown clergy, ones that spoke English.

These forces caused a split in the Dutch Reformed Church of America. One side of the argument were known as the Conferentie while the other side was called the Coetus. The Coetus pushed for the clergy to be trained and ordained in America. Domine Meyer supported the Coetus movement. Obviously, the majority of his congregation did not support him.

According to "An Historical Sketch of the Early Collegiate Church," the Coetus was dissolved in 1754. So what was going on in 1766 in Kingston?

To be continued...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Discord in Reformed Dutch Church of Kingston, New York from 1766 to 1772

Today, I was associating baptismal records from the Reformed Dutch Church of Kingston, NY to people in my family history. Typically, I like to include the name of the minister who officiated at the event. Roswell Randall Hoes's book, Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809, includes the names of the presiding minister.

When I came across the baptismal entry for Maria Bogardus in 1769, I noticed something interesting on the page. There was a different minister after every three or four baptisms. But what attracted my attention was the parenthetical information following the name of each minister. In some cases the minister's name was followed by "(Conferentie)" and others by "(Coetus)".

I paged backward to see if I could determine when the first time one of these two designations occurred in the book. The first baptismal entry in which the notation of Conferentie or Coetus occurred was June 3, 1766 when Domine Gerhard Daniel Cock, minister of Germantown and Rhinebeck, officiated.

The minister who officiated at the baptisms prior to June 3rd was Domine Hermanus Meyer. The first baptism that is recorded with Rev. Meyer officiating is November 6, 1763; the last entry is February 9, 1766. From the latter date to October 25, 1772, Rev. Meyer was noted as Domine Meyer (Coetus).

Between June 3, 1766 and October 25, 1772, several different ministers performed baptisms for this congregations. With the exception of Rev. Meyer, each of the other ministers were recorded with "(Conferentie)." Each of these Conferentie ministers appear to have had a congregation somewhere else.

Domine Isaac Rysdyk was the minister for  Poughkeepsie and Fishkill, NY. Domine Gerhard Daniel Cock was the minister for Germantown and Rhinebeck, NY. Domine Johannes Casparus Fryenmoet was the minister for Livingston Manor. Domine Warmoldus Kuypers was the minister at Rhinebeck Flats, NY.

Domine Hermanus Meyer was the minister of the Reformed Dutch Church in Kingston during this time. However, it appears that the majority of the congregants chose to have ministers of neighboring Dutch Reformed Churches perform the baptisms. A minority of the congregation supported Domine Meyer and the Coetus.

By October 26, 1772, Domine Meyer was no longer the minister of the Kingston congregation as Domine Gerhard Daniel Cock officiated at several baptisms on that date and beyond. This six-year period must have been very difficult for the congregation, the community and friends and family.

To be continued...