Feast of Charles William Schaeffer (May 5)   2 comments

United Lutheran Church in America

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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CHARLES WILLIAM SCHAEFFER (MAY 5, 1813-MARCH 15, 1896)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Historian, Theologian, and Liturgist

The last few saints I have added to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days have been Moravians.  (More will follow.)  Now I turn to Lutherans.  First out of the gate is Charles William Schaeffer (1813-1896), a man with whom I would have had many agreements and disagreements.  Agreeing with me is not mandatory for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar, however.

Our saint came from a devout Lutheran family.  His father, Frederick Solomon Schaeffer, was a minister who died in 1814.  The causa mortis was a fever the pastor had contracted upon visiting a military camp near Hagerstown, Maryland, our saint’s birthplace.   Charles William’s mother moved him to Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  There, in time, she married the Reverend Benjamin Keller.  The family relocated to Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1829.  Our saint graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with honors in 1832 then from Gettysburg Theological Seminary, an institution of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S.A. (hereafter the General Synod), the oldest national Lutheran organization, which existed from 1820 to 1918.

Schaeffer, ordained, embarked upon his ministerial career.  From 1835 to 1840 he served as the first resident pastor of two congregations in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania–St. Peter’s Church, Barren Hill, and Union Church, White Marsh.  Then, from 1840 to 1849, our saint ministered at Zion Lutheran Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  His final pastorate, from 1849 to 1875, was St. Michael’s Church, Germantown, Pennsylvania, in which he had grown up.  During his time our saint earned his Doctor of Divinity from the University of Pennsylvania.  He also served as a trustee of that institution of higher learning from 1859 to 1896.

Disputes flowing from differences in theology and polity as well as among strong personalities divided the General Synod in the 1860s.  The German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States, the oldest of the regional and state synods in the country, had a tense, off-and-on relationship with the General Synod, which it had helped to found in 1820, left a few years later, and returned to in 1853.  The Ministerium of Pennsylvania was more confessional in doctrine than the General Synod.  Related to that issue was polity, for the General Synod tended to prefer more centralized authority over its synods, including those which were more confessional in doctrine.  The founding of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1864 as a more confessional institution occurred in this context.  Schaeffer, who, over time, served as the President of both the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and the General Synod, taught at the new seminary.  And, in 1867, he helped to form the breakaway General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (hereafter the General Council), which he served as Vice President then as President.

The other group to emerge from the General Synod in the 1860s was a Southern denomination.  The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America (1863-1866) became the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1866-1876) then the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South (1876-1886).  The Southern General Synod, theologically closer to the General Council to the General Synod, united with two other Southern synods in 1886.  The Evangelical Lutheran Tennessee Synod, which dated to 1820, had refused to enter into the General Synod.  The Evangelical Lutheran Holston Synod had broken away from the Tennessee Synod in 1860 due to geographical separation from the rest of the parent body via the Allegheny Mountains.  The 1886 merger created the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South.  The shorthand version of the name was the United Synod of the South.  The General Synod, the General Council, and the United Synod of the South reunited in 1918 to form the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), a predecessor body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Schaeffer was a liturgist and a hymn translator.  He served on the committee responsible for producing the landmark Liturgy for the Use of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860), a crucial step in U.S. Lutheran liturgical development.  One of his hymn translations, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I’m Baptized in Thy Dear Name,” is available at my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.

Schaeffer also wrote or translated books, including the following:

  1. A Discourse Exhibiting the History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1846);
  2. Early History of the Lutheran Church in America, from the Settlement of the Swedes on the Delaware, to the Middle of the Eighteenth Century (1857);
  3. Golden Treasury for the Children of God (translated from the German, 1860);
  4. Family Prayer for Morning and Evening, and the Festivals of the Church Year (1862); and
  5. Halle Reports (translated from the German, 1882).

Schaeffer died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 15, 1896.  He had spent most of his life using his talents, literary and intellectual, for the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SABINE BARING-GOULD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SERAPHIM OF SAROV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK

THE FEAST OF VEDANAYAGAM SAMUEL AZARIAH, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DORNAKAL

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Charles William Schaeffer and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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2 responses to “Feast of Charles William Schaeffer (May 5)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Johann Franck, Heinrich Held, and Simon Dach (June 9) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Pingback: Feast of Matthias Loy and Conrad Hermann Louis Schuette (August 14) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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