Feast of John H. W. Stuckenberg (May 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Publisher and Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-18248

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JOHN HENRY WILBURN STUCKENBERG (JANUARY 6, 1835-MAY 28, 1903)

German-American Lutheran Minister and Academic

Born as Johann Heinrich Wilbrand(t) Stuckenberg

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I favor a progressive Christianity based on the living teachings of Christ and his Apostles.  I am opposed to the stagnation created by religious dogmatism and traditionalism, and wish none of my possessions to be used in the interest of this stagnation.

–John H. W. Stuckenberg’s Last Will and Testament (June 6, 1898)

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The Reverend John H. W. Stuckenberg was a scholar, pastor, chaplain, sociologist, map collector, and theological liberal.  He, born as Johann Heinrich Wilbrand(t) Stuckenberg in Bramsche, Hanover, on January 6, 1835, was the fifth of six children of Hermann Rudolph Stuckenberg and Anne Marie Biest Stuckenberg.  The family emigrated to the United States in two phases.  Hermann and a daughter arrived first, in 1837.  The remainder of the family came two years later.  The Stuckenbergs lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before leaving for Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1843.  Johann, his name Anglicized as John, was a pious and intellectual young man who grew up in a bilingual home.  Although German was the main language at home, he made English his primary language.

Above:  Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, Circa 1910

Copyright Claimant = Charles F. Bowden

Image Source = Library of Congress

Stuckenberg had a lifelong interest in sociology.  He attended Wittenberg College (now University), Springfield, Ohio, from 1852 to 1857.  There he focused on sociology, philosophy, and theology.  After graduating as the valedictorian on June 28, 1857, our saint studied at Wittenberg Theological Seminary.  He graduated the following year.

Stuckenberg became a minister.  He served as the pastor of a struggling congregation in Davenport, Iowa, in 1858 and 1859.  Next he studied theology further at the University of Halle, in Germany, from 1858 to 1861.  Our saint was working toward a doctorate, but the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War and a lack of funding interfered with his plans.  In 1861-1862 and again from October 1863 to June 1865 Stuckenberg was a pastor in Erie, Pennsylvania.  From September 1862 to October 1863 Stuckenberg was the chaplain of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteers, U.S. Army.  Our saint, an opponent of slavery and a critic of the foul language of General Winfield Scott Hancock, kept a diary, published posthumously (in 1995) as I’m Surrounded by Methodists….  This document has become the only published account of that unit of the U.S. Army.

As I had not slept any night before and had run about all day, ministering to the sick I felt very tired in the afternoon and was urged by Mrs. Wittich, and by Mrs. and Miss Coleman (at whose house I took my breakfast while at the Ferry) to remain till morning.  But I feared our regiment would move on and perhaps get into a battle, so I started the ferry at 4:20 P.M.  I got a chance to ride several miles in an ambulance.  When I got to our camp I found that the regiment had gone, so I started in pursuit and walked at a quick rate till nearly nine o’clock.  As I was very tired and still some miles from our regiment I went into a house and stayed there for the night.  The old lady and son-in-law (Mrs. Hagar) and one daughter were strong secesh.  The other daughter was Union, her husband a Un[ited] Breth[ren] preacher, being in our army.  Mrs. Hagar asked me whether I considered slavery a sin; on replying that I did, she became very much incensed and asked me whether I took the Bible for my guide?

–Stuckenberg, from the entry for November 10, 1862, at Warrenton, Virginia

In June 1865 Stuckenberg left for Germany, where he studied theology at the Universities of Göttingen, Berlin, and Tubingen (one semester each).

Stuckenberg, back in the United States in the Autumn of 1866, served as a pastor in Indianapolis, Indiana, from January 1867 to April 1868, when he left to serve at another church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until August 1873.  He married Mary Gingrich (1849-1934), a former parishioner from Erie, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 1869.  Our saint, part of the old General Synod (1820-1918), wrote The History of the Augsburg Confession (1868) and served as Professor of Theology at Wittenberg College from August 1873 until 1880, when he resigned for health-related reasons.

The Stuckenbergs lived in Berlin, Germany, for about 14 years, starting in August 1880.  He served as an early pastor of the American Church there.  The couple returned to Berlin for a visit in November 1901, for the laying of the cornerstone of the new building.

The Stuckenbergs, back in the United States in 1894, settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Our saint was primarily an academic from 1894 until his death in 1903.  Theological developments at Wittenberg College soured Stuckenberg on his alma mater, so he transferred his favor to the progressive Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  He left his estate (including his collection of maps) and papers to that institution of higher learning.  [Aside:  Unfortunately, the author of the biography of John H. W. Stuckenberg at the webpage of the Special Collections and College Archives at Gettysburg College seems not to know consistently that “Stuckenberg’s” is a singular possessive adjective, not a plural noun.]  Stuckenberg traveled to Germany and England for occasional research.  Our saint, in London in April and May 1903, fell ill and required surgery.  At the time Mary was in Berlin.  She departed for London yet arrived too late; her husband had died during surgery.

Stuckenberg was a proto-Social Gospeler.  He, the author of Christian Sociology (1880), argued that authentic Christianity makes a concrete difference in society, influencing public policy for the better in lasting ways.  Our saint also insisted that human history is moving toward shalom, which makes no room for social class distinctions.

Stuckenberg, the author of many articles, also wrote the following books:

  1. The Life of Immanuel Kant (1882);
  2. The Final Science; or Spiritual Materialism (1885);
  3. Introduction to the Study of Philosophy (1888 and 1896);
  4. The Age and the Church (1893);
  5. The Social Problem (1897);
  6. Introduction to the Study of Sociology (1897);
  7. Sociology: The Science of Human Society (1903)–Volumes I and II.

Stuckenberg had also helped to translate K. R. Hagenbach’s German Rationalism, In Its Rise, Progress, and Decline into English (1865).

Stuckenberg was a great figure in U.S. Lutheranism.  Unfortunately, he has fallen through the cracks of scholarship with the passage of time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John H. W. Stuckenberg 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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A NOTICE REGARDING STUCKENBERG’S ANGLICIZED NAME:

As I prepared this post I read different versions of Stuckenberg’s Anglicized full name.  I read “John Henry Wilburn Stuckenberg” in the published version of his Civil War diary.  The biography at Gettysburg College listed his Anglicized name as “John Henry Wilbrand Stuckenberg.”  However, I found both “John Henry Wilbrandt Stuckenberg” and “John Henry Wilburn Stuckenberg” at archive.org.

KRT

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