Archive for the ‘General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S.A.’ Tag

Feast of Samuel Simon Schmucker (February 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Samuel Simon Schmucker

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL SIMON SCHMUCKER (FEBRUARY 28, 1799-JULY 26, 1873)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

Samuel Simon Schumucker comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

I recall, while growing up as a good United Methodist boy in rural southern Georgia, hearing people say,

There are Baptists then there are Baptists.

That principle applies to Lutherans, too; degrees of Lutheran confessionalism exist.  If one, for example, labels The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, despite its strong confessionalism and social and theological conservatism, as being too liberal, one has a selection of Lutheran denominations from which to select a church home.

Samuel Simon Schumucker changed throughout his life; he was human, after all.  Lutheranism within the United States of America also changed during his lifetime.  Schmucker effected much of that change, but other change made him, once a prominent leader, an increasingly marginal figure in many quarters.  Yet Schmucker’s legacy has remained relevant within and beyond Lutheranism in North America.

Schmucker came from a devout and large Lutheran family.  He, born in Hagerstown, Maryland, entered the world on February 28, 1779.  Our saint’s mother was Elizabeth Catherine Gross (1771-1820).  His father was the Reverend John George Schmucker (1771-1854), the President of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States (the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, for short) in 1820 and 1821.  Our saint was one of the best-educated young Lutheran ministers in the United States.  He had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton Theological Seminary.  In 1820, when young Schmucker was preparing to assume pastoral duties in New Market, Virginia, he and his father helped to found the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America (the General Synod, in short).  The General Synod was the first national confederation of Lutheran synods in the United States.  Schmucker, who grew quickly into a leader of the General Synod, attended every convention through 1870.  At its founding, the General Synod encompassed almost all of the U.S. Lutheran Synods and the vast majority of U.S. Lutherans.  Within a few years, however, doctrinal disputes reduced the membership of the General Synod; the Ministerium of Pennsylvania defected in 1823.  (Then it rejoined in 1853 and departed again in 1867.)  Proposed union with the German Reformed Church caused another controversy in 1830.  Our saint saved the General Synod in 1823 and 1830.  Although some synods left the General Synod, others formed and affiliated with it over the years.

The General Synod was too liberal for many Lutherans in the United States in the 1800s.  This was especially ironic in the 1820s.  Our saint was relatively conservative; he advocated for an increased prominence of the Augsburg Confession (1530) in U.S. Lutheranism.  He also sought to purge all traces of Deism from U.S. Lutheranism.  Schmucker, like many Christians of his time, held an overly strict position on “worldly amusements;” the following entertainments (a few of them actually sinful), among others, were forbidden:

  1. Playing games of chance,
  2. Playing checkers,
  3. Playing chess,
  4. Casting dice,
  5. Playing cards,
  6. Listening to opera,
  7. Attending vocal performances in concert halls,
  8. Using tobacco,
  9. Consuming liquor, and
  10. Wearing fashionable clothing.

If Schmucker was too liberal, what was the standard of conservatism?  Perhaps his position that intellectual rigor was no threat to Christianity marked him as a liberal and an alleged heretic.  As time passed, so did his abolitionism, opposition to the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848), and acceptance of Evolution.

Schmucker and his father recognized the need for a Lutheran seminary in the United States.  They helped to found Gettysburg Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in.  Schmucker, Sr., served as a trustee.  Our saint served on the faculty and as the President for nearly four decades.  The seminary gave rise to another institution, Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College) in 1832.

Schmucker wrote a textbook, Elements of Popular Theology, with Special Reference to the Doctrines of the Reformation, as Avowed Before the Diet at Augsburg, in MDXXX (1834).  This volume indicated our saint’s concept of orthodox Christianity.  He defined orthodox Christianity according to a common creedal core, which he defined as

fundamental doctrines of Scripture,

while eschewing overly specific creeds and allowing for disagreement in secondary matters.  Parts of some creeds were optional, Schmucker argued.  Orthodox Christianity, according to our saint, was Protestant yet did not include all Protestants.  Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Campbellites, Baptists, and Deists were not orthodox Christians, according to Schmucker.

Schmucker’s critics, starting in the 1830s, in particular, found more and more theological ammunition to use against him.  The General Synod permitted much theological latitude.  Our saint’s Eucharistic and Baptismal theology was closer to that of Calvinism than to that of Lutheranism.  (He did graduate from a Presbyterian seminary.)  He, influenced by the Second Great Awakening, was also a revivalist, to a point.  Puritanism and Pietism were prominent in his theology.  (Pietism had been part of a segment of Lutheran theology for some time by the 1800s.)  Schmucker’s “American Lutheranism” made him open to ecumenical relations with non-Lutherans he defined as orthodox.

This became evident by 1838, when Schmucker proposed church union–confederation, really–on what he called

the apostolic basis.

This plan offered six points of union:

  1. Variety in liturgy, polity, and discipline;
  2. Toleration of theological diversity within the ecclesiastical confederation;
  3. A common creed;
  4. Full communion and open communion within the ecumenical confederation;
  5. Cooperation in matters pertaining to “the common cause of Christianity;” and
  6. The Bible as the main textbook for religious and theological instruction.

Schmucker manifested other evidence of his liberalism as he aged and the General Synod became increasingly confessional and conservative, yet never sufficiently conservative, according to many U.S. Lutherans.  In 1855 our saint worked on the proposed American Rescension of the Augsburg Confession.  The controversial proposal, which most synods of the General Synod refused to accept, deleted the condemnations of non-Lutheran groups, removed mentions of baptismal regeneration, denied Consubstantiation, and argued that the Augsburg Confession (1530) contained errors.

Schmucker was also a liturgist.  He, as the head of the General Synod’s Committee on Liturgy of 1866, in lieu of the Liturgy of 1856.  The Provisional Liturgy of 1866 influenced the Washington Service (1876), which, in turn, presaged the Common Service (1888).  The Liturgy of 1856 was noteworthy for reintroducing The Apostles’ Creed (complete with “the holy Catholic Church”) to corporate worship.  A greater influence on the Common Service was the Reverend Beale Melanchton Schmucker (1827-1888), the more conservative, formalistic, and confessional son of our saint.  Beale, whose liturgical sensibilities were evident in the Ministerium of Pennsylvania’s Liturgy for Use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860) and the General Council’s Church Book for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1868), was one of the greatest experts on liturgy and liturgical development.  He was, according to accounts, a walking encyclopedia on the subjects.  He was one of the main reasons the General Council had a stronger liturgical  tradition than the General Synod.

Schmucker lived long enough to witness the General Synod divide twice.  The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America organized in 1863.  This organization became the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1866 then the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South in 1876.  Ten years later, with the addition of the Tennessee Synod, the Southern General Synod became the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South.  The General Synod (1820) suffered another schism in 1867, when the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America came into existence.  The merger that created The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1918 repaired the schisms of 1863 and 1867.  The General Synod (1820) moved to the right as the General Council moved to the left.  The two confederations moved toward each other.

Schmucker married three times and outlived his first two wives.  He married Eleanora Geiger (1799-1823) in 1821.  Wife number two was Mary Catharine Steenbergen (1808-1848).  Our saint’s third wife was Heisther (Esther), who died in 1882.  Schmucker fathered at least four children.

Schmucker, aged 84 years, died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1873.

I, as an Episcopalian, am creedal, not confessional.  I also accept science and oppose all forms of slavery.  Anglican collegiality is one of the defining characteristics of my faith.  Therefore, I find much to admire about Schmucker.  I also recognize points of strong disagreement with him.  Yet, whenever I ponder denominational full communion agreements, such as the one the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church share, I think Schmucker would approve.

Alex Haley advised,

Find the good and praise it.

I praise the good in the legacy of Samuel Simon Schmucker.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Samuel Simon Schmucker,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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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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Feast of Frederick Hermann Knubel (May 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the United Lutheran Church in America

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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FREDERICK HERMANN KNUBEL (MAY 22, 1870-OCTOBER 16, 1945)

President of The United Lutheran Church in America

This post depends almost entirely upon The United Lutheran Church in America, 1918-1962, begun by E. Theodore Bachmann, who died before he completed the process of writing the volume.  His wife, Mercia Brenne Bachmann, finished the book, which Paul Rorem edited.  The Fortress Press, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, published the volume in 1997.

Lutheran history interests me.  I find that learning about various strands of that tradition enriches my life.  I am glad to know about Frederick Hermann Knubel and to write about him.

One strand of Lutheranism in the United States dates to the colonial era, predating the founding of the Ministerium of North America (later renamed the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States) in 1748.  Subsequent Lutheran history reveals the formation of offshoot synods and other synods, most of them defined by state lines or by regions.  One can also read of the formation of the federation (as opposed to denomination) called The Evangelical Lutheran General Synod of the United States of America in 1820 and of the continuing formation of synods, not all of which affiliated with the General Synod.  Lutheran history also tells of the defection of the synods comprising The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America in 1863, known as The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America from 1866 to 1886, when the addition of the Holston and Tennessee Synods created The United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South.  Furthermore, one can read of the split of the synods comprising the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America from the General Synod (1820) in 1867.

Frederick Hermann Knubel hailed from the Synod of New York and New Jersey, affiliated with the General Synod (1820).  Our saint, born in Greenwich Village, New York, New York, on May 22, 1870, grew up in a devout German Lutheran family.  He was the fourth child and first son of Frederick Knubel (a successful businessman) and Anna Knubel (Knubel), each of whom came from a different branch of the same family in Bremerhaven, Bremen, Germany.  Frederick the elder, a pillar of the church, was a trustee of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, just two blocks away from the family’s home.  Young Frederick, a second-generation American, grew up in a bilingual home.

Our saint planned originally to follow in his father’s footsteps, but changed his mind at the age of 19 years.  The vocation to ordained ministry led young Knubel away from the City College of New York and Packard’s Business College to Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College) then to the seminary, both in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  He spent six years in Gettysburg, starting in 1889.  The theological position of the seminary was a mild confessionalism that emphasized the catholic, not the exclusive, nature of Lutheranism.  That stance, which defined the General Synod, also marked Knubel’s theology subsequently.

The seminary graduate married in 1895 then spent a year with his wife in Leipzig, Germany.  Knubel married Christine Ritscher, of Jersey City, New Jersey, in June.  Our saint’s parents helped generously with finances as our saint studied theology at Leipzig University.  Decades later Knubel recalled,

When I left Gettysburg, I felt I had the answers.  But after a year at Leipzig I had a far deeper appreciation of the questions.

Back in the United States Knubel built up a new congregation.  He, ordained in New York City on October 17, 1896, became a mission developer for the Synod of New York and New Jersey.  From 1897 to 1918 he was pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement, a mission of St. John’s, Greenwich Village.  (Since 1927 the congregation has been Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church, due to a merger with the Church of Our Saviour.)  Atonement was Knubel’s only pastorate.  In 1907 it had about 1,000 baptized members, ranging from the rich to the poor.  A decade later that number had increased to about 3,500.  At Atonement Knubel demonstrated his support for the deaconess movement.  Deaconess Jennie Christ, who became our saint’s second wife decades later, arrived in the parish in 1903.

The Knubels had two children, both of whom spent their lives in Christian service.  Frederick Knubel Ritscher (1897-1957), a minister, served as a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Rochester, New York, from 1921 to 1944 then as the President of the Synod of New York and New England (in The United Lutheran Church in America) from 1945 to 1957.  Helen Knubel (1901-1992), who contracted polio at the age of 16 years and spent the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair, became the greatest Lutheran archivist in North America.

Our saint was an ecumenist.  He belonged to Koinonia, a group of Lutheran clergymen in New York City founded in 1896.  The members hailed from various synods–Missouri, Joint Ohio, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and affiliates of the General Synod (1820) and the General Council (1867).  At each meeting a member presented a paper, which the group discussed.  Sometimes the ministers took communion, despite the policy of closed communion in some of the synods.  In January 1916 Knubel was a General Synod delegate to an American regional missionary conference related to the Faith and Order movement, a precursor of the World Council of Churches.  Some other U.S. Lutheran bodies, distrustful of unionism, boycotted the gathering, however.

1917 and 1918 were eventful years in U.S. Lutheranism.  1917 was the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  It was also the year the United States entered World War I.  That conflict stirred up intolerance domestically.  German Americans and other groups of foreign origin became suspect to many.  Danish, Swedish, German, and Norwegian Americans, among others, became targets of state laws that banned church services in foreign languages.  Vigilantes attacked churches of Christian Reformed, ethnic Lutheran, and other affiliations.  This period expedited the transition to the English language in more than one denomination.

The member synods of the General Synod were among the oldest of the U.S. Lutheran bodies, and were therefore more culturally assimilated than the two Danish-American synods, for example.  Nevertheless, even the General Synod Lutherans had to defend their American patriotism in 1917 and 1918.  Outside pressure on Lutherans from nativists, combined with the anniversary of the Reformation, spurred on inter-Lutheran ecumenism.  The National Lutheran Commission for Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Welfare formed on October 19, 1917; Knubel became its president.  Also, the Lutheran Brotherhood of America formed on November 6, 1917, and the National Lutheran Council came into being in September 1918.  In 1917 three Norwegian-American synods, which had already produced The Lutheran Hymnary (1913), reunited to constitute the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, later renamed the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Meanwhile, the reunion of the General Synod, the General Council, and the United Synod of the South, which had produced the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), was proceeding according to schedule.

The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), a denomination, although not a relatively decentralized one, formed in New York City on November 14, 1918.  Knubel, who had served on the Deaconess Board and the Inner Mission Board of the General Synod (1820), became the first president of the new body.  He served a consecutive series of two-year terms until December 31, 1944.  Knubel presided over the consolidation of ULCA, formed with overlapping magazines, agencies, and synods.  He also shepherded ULCA through good times and bad times, from the Roaring Twenties through the Great Depression, and into World War II.

Knubel was an advocate of ecumenism.  He favored the Federal Council of Churches, a predecessor of the National Council of Churches.  He, a mildly Confessional Lutheran, laid the foundation for greater Lutheran unity as he led his denomination into dialogues with more conservative bodies, including the Missouri Synod and the 1930-1960 iteration of The American Lutheran Church.  They objected to, among other facts, ULCA’s rejection of Biblical inerrancy.  ULCA’s position was that the Bible is authoritative because it communicates the Word of God, defined as the saving message of God.  During World War II U.S. Lutheran denominations cooperated in providing pastoral care to German prisoners of war and increased their collaboration in domestic missions.  Knubel approved of this ecumenical activity.

On the personal front, Christine Ritscher Knubel, our saint’s wife since 1895, died in December 1923.  He married Deaconess Jennie Christ in 1925.  In 1944 Knubel, whose health was failing, did not seek another term as president.  The convention elected Franklin Clark Fry (1900-1968), to succeed him.  Knubel’s retirement was brief; he died on October 16, 1945.  His children and second wife survived him.

From the beginning of Knubel’s tenure to the end thereof, membership in ULCA had increased from 1.1 million to 1.7 million.

At Knubel’s funeral, held at Our Saviour’s Atonement Church, New York City, Fry said of his predecessor,

God gave our father a marvelous degree of wisdom….By his gracious Christian churchmanship, loving and shepherding men of various views, many a breach was prevented and many a wound never occurred.  This was what made our Church strong.  Indeed, it has gone far to make it possible….There need be no turning back for the United Lutheran Church, there can be a steady going forward into the future.  It will be a natural outgrowth of our late president’s judgment and his vision.

Frederick Hermann Knubel served God faithfully during his 75 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Frederick Hermann Knubel,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of William Passavant (January 3)   4 comments

Passavant

Above:  William Alfred Passavant, Sr.

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM ALFRED PASSAVANT, SR. (OCTOBER 9, 1821-JANUARY 3, 1894)

U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND EVANGELIST

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the service book-hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, lists William Passavant as a saint, sharing the feast day of November 24 with fellow pastors Justus Falckner (died in 1723) and Jehu Jones (died in 1852).  However, my denomination, The Episcopal Church, celebrates Passavant’s life on January 3, without Falckner and Jones.  I choose to follow the lead of my church as it has expressed itself in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010).

Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) lists Passavant as a “Prophetic Witness.”  That description is succinct and accurate yet too vague.  Our saint, an ardent evangelist, laid and helped to lay the foundations of Lutheran synods in Canada and in the Midwest and the West of the United States.  His influence in this realm was both direct and indirect.  He also founded hospitals and orphanages, homes for epileptics, and homes for elderly people.  He raised funds for the support of these institutions of mercy and encouraged the founding of other such institutions.  Passavant proved instrumental in bringing the order of deaconesses, revived among German Lutherans in the 1800s, to the United States.  (Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, a Bavarian Lutheran minister, whose feast day is January 2, also worked on that aspect of church work in the 1800s.)  Deaconesses worked in institutions of mercy.  And our saint founded and helped to found educational institutions.

William Alfred Passavant, born at Zelienople, Pennsylvania, on October 9, 1821, was a son of Fredericka Wilhemina Basse Passavant and Philippe Louis Passavant, a merchant.  Our saint grew up in a pious Lutheran family with his parents and siblings.  He attended Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pennyslvania, before preparing for the ordained ministry at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennyslvania and Adjacent States, or the Ministerium of Pennyslvania for short, licensed Passavant to preach in 1842 and ordained him during the following year.

Our saint spent two years (1842-1844) at Luther Chapel, Baltimore, Maryland.  During that time he edited the Lutheran Almanac, completed Hymns, Selected and Original, for Sunday Schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and fell in love.  Eliza Walter (1823-1906) married Passavant in 1845, after he had relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to become pastor of the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The couple had five children:

  1. Philip (1846-1847),
  2. Virginia (1849-1858),
  3. Frank H. (1856-1967),
  4. William Alfred, Jr. (1857-1901), and
  5. Dettmer L. (1859-1932).

united-lutheran-church-in-america

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

At Pittsburgh Passavant began to make his greatest contributions to the Lutheran Church.  In 1845 he organized the Pittsburgh Synod, known as the “missionary synod.”  From Pittsburgh missionaries fanned out across Canada and the U.S. Midwest and West.  The Pittsburgh Synod, part of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S.A. (1820-1918) from 1853 to 1864,  helped to found the more conservative General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  The Pittsburgh Synod divided in 1867, with the older body remaining an affiliate of the General Council and the second Pittsburgh Synod joining the General Synod.  Over time the General Synod became more conservative and the General Council shifted to the left.  The two federations moved toward each other.  Reunion in 1918 meant that the new United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) had two Pittsburgh Synods, which merged in 1919.

The missionary legacy of Passavant’s Pittsburgh Synod is impressive.  That legacy includes the Texas Synod (1851), the the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Minnesota and Other States (1860), the Canada Synod (1861), the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest (1891), and the Nova Scotia Synod (1903).  The Minnesota Synod (1860), now part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, grew out of a scouting mission to St. Paul, Minnesota.  Passavant was interested in starting English-language congregations, for many English-speaking Lutherans who moved westward could not find any linguistically compatible Lutheran congregation.  Other denominations were gaining members because of this fact.  Passavant realized the necessity for German-language missions also, so he enlisted the aid of “Father” John Christian Frederick Heyer (1893-1873), who had served as a missionary in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana (1820-1840) and India (1842-1845 and 1847-1857).  Heyer founded the Minnesota Synod (1860).  English-language missions of the General Council also took root, becoming the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest (1891).  The General Council’s Pacific Synod branched off from the Synod of the Northwest in 1901.

Passavant was also helpful to the Swedish and Norwegian immigrants who founded the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod, later simply the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod, in 1860.  (The Norwegians broke away in 1870.)  He, as the editor of The Missionary (1848-1861), encouraged his readers to support Swedish immigrant congregations financially in the 1850s.  Passavant also facilitated a speaking tour for Pastor Lars Paul Erbjorn (1808-1870), leader of those immigrants, to raise funds for the new churches.  Our saint continued to have a relationship with these congregations after they left the General Synod’s Synod of Northern Illinois (founded in 1851) and started the Augustana Synod in 1860.  He encouraged the new Augustana Synod to found orphanages.  They followed his advice, starting in 1865.

Related to missionary work was education.  Passavant helped to found Thiel Collge, Greenville, Pennyslvania, in 1869.  He also helped to found Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, in 1891.  Our saint understood the importance of having an English-language seminary to supply ministers for English-speaking congregations in the Midwest and the West.  The presence of the English Synod of the Northwest (also founded in 1891) and the new seminary in Chicago alarmed many in the Augustana Synod, also a member of the General Council.  Were the new English-language synod and seminary competing with the Augustana Synod on its turf?  Or were these Swedish Americans unduly sensitive?  Regardless of the answers to these questions, Passavant was prescient.

Passavant was active in the related fields of institutions of mercy and the revived order of deaconesses.  He founded hospitals, orphanages, homes for the aged, and homes for epileptics from 1849 to 1871 and raised more than $1 million for their support.  Those who were less fortunate deserved the best of care, our saint affirmed.  This man, who founded more such institutions than any other Lutheran in the United States, started the first Protestant hospital (at Pittsburgh, in 1849) and the oldest Protestant orphanage in continuous existence (also at Pittsburgh, in 1852) in the United States.  Among the workers in these institutions of mercy were deaconesses, heirs to an ancient Christian order historically stronger in the Eastern Orthodox Church than in Western Christianity.  Pastor Theodor Fliedner (1800-1864) had renewed the order among German Lutherans.  He and four deaconesses came to America in 1849, having accepted Passavant’s invitation.  Fliedner toured the United States then returned home.  The deaconesses worked in the new Lutheran hospital at Pittsburgh.  The following year our saint consecrated the first American deaconess of the new Institution of Protestant Deaconesses.  That institution experienced slow growth through the early 1890s, for there were only twelve American deaconesses through 1891.  Nevertheless, the deaconess movement in U.S. Lutheranism grew elsewhere during that time.  The Ministerium of Pennsylvania established its deaconess motherhouse at Philadelphia in 1887.  Also, the deaconess movement in U.S. Norwegian Lutheranism began in 1883.  The Passavant portion of the deaconess movement gained new life in 1893, with the founding of the motherhouse at Milwaukee.

These “inner missions,” Passavant wrote in 1848, were just as important as formal education, Sunday School, catechesis, and good liturgy.  Church members, he wrote, had temporal needs.  Fulfilling them was a sacred task, one which William Alfred Passavant, Jr. (1857-1901), also a Lutheran minister, fulfilled.  Our saint’s son also founded institutions of mercy and was active in the deaconess movement.  The younger Passavant, who served as the General Superintendent of Home Missions for the General Council, died of apoplexy in 1901.  He was 44 years old.

Our saint, a vocal opponent of slavery before and during the Civil War, and a U.S. Army Chaplain during that conflict, lived according to a strong moral compass.  He encouraged faith-based good works and confessional Lutheran doctrine as editor of The Workman, of which William, Jr., was a publisher, from 1881 to his death in 1894.  In late December 1893 Passavant, Sr., attended the funeral of a fellow minister in Milwaukee.  There he came down with a severe cold.  A week later our saint died in Pittsburgh.  He was 72 years old.

His legacy continues, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Compassionate God, we thank you for William Passavant,

who brought the German deaconess movement to America so that

dedicated women might assist him in founding orphanages and hospitals for those in need

and provide for the theological education of future ministers.

Inspire us by his example, that we may be tireless to address

the wants of all who are sick and friendless;

through Jesus the divine Physician, who has prepared for us an eternal home,

and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Isaiah 29:17-24

Psalm 147:1-7

Revelation 3:14-22

Luke 13:10-22

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 155

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Feast of John Caspar Mattes (November 8)   1 comment

Mason City Globe-Gazette, June 18, 1945, page 5

Above:  A Clipping from the Mason City Globe-Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, June 18, 1945, Page 5

Accessed via newspapers.com

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JOHN CASPAR MATTES (NOVEMBER 8, 1876-JANUARY 27, 1948)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist

My research for adding some one to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days often entails consulting hymnal companion volumes.  These, I find, are of mixed value, due to frequently incomplete and occasionally inaccurate information.  I am, nevertheless, not overly critical of such books, for, via the wonders of technology, I can conduct research at home easily much of the time.  Much of this research would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the editors and authors of hymnal companion volumes decades ago.  (The oldest such volume in my library dates to 1935, although I have electronic copies of older hymnal companions.)  For example, in preparation for this post, I consulted newspapers via newspapers.com and old journals which Google has digitized.  I did this at my desk at home in Athens, Georgia.  I write these statements to explain the existence of information which contradicts certain information I read in Lutheran hymnal companions dating as far back as 1942.

This post is my attempt to write an accurate and concise account of the life of John Caspar Mattes (1876-1948), a man who was to my theological right. (And yes, many people are to my theological left.)  He was a Confessional Lutheran.  I am, however, a collegial Episcopalian, so I acknowledge the difference in opinions while dismissing their importance.  He was a giant for Christ.  Our saint’s liturgical work and hymn translations have survived him.  Some of his translations of hymns have enriched my spiritual life.  Such a man deserves recognition.

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Trenton Evening Times, November 13, 1908, Page 1

Above:  A Clipping from the Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, November 13, 1908, Page 1

Accessed via newspapers.com

John Caspar Mattes entered the world at Easton, Pennyslvania, on November 8, 1876.  His parents were Henry Louis Mattes (1825-1908) and Adelaide Havemann Mattes, who died, aged 91 years, in March 1927.  (She had lived with her son and his family for a long time by then.)  The Mattes family was staunchly Lutheran.  Henry Louis Mattes, a church organist, had helped to found the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918), which broke away from the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S.A. (1820-1918).  (I like to refer to Taylor’s Law of Denominational Schisms, which is that most of them occur to the theological right, usually out of a quest for doctrinal purity.  The result, more often than not, is the propagation of Donatism.  The study of religious history confirms this conclusion.)  Our saint graduated from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, with his B.A. degree in 1898.  His next stop was the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Mount Airy (near Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1901.  Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, granted him an honorary D.D. degree in 1925.

Mattes Article 1915 01

Mattes Article 1915 02

Mattes Article 1915 03

Above:  An Article from The Scranton Republican, Scranton, New Jersey, July 26, 1915, Page 4

Accessed via newspapers.com

Stability characterized our saint’s ministerial career.  Mattes, ordained in the old Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States (1748-1918), served as the pastor of St. Michael’s Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania, briefly (1901) before accepting a call to the Church of the Savior, Trenton, New Jersey.  He remained there until 1915.  During his tenure the congregation grew substantially.  During that time Mattes made a name for himself as a translator of hymns, especially German ones.  In April 1915 our saint joined the committee for the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), which became the official service book-hymnal of the United Lutheran Church in America, or ULCA (1918-1962).  Mattes created a new arrangement of the History of the Passion (for use during Holy Week) and contributed six hymn translations.

Scranton Republican May 28, 1927, page 28

Above:  A Clipping from The Scranton Republican, May 28, 1927, Page 28

Accessed via newspaper.com

Mattes served in Scranton, Pennsylvania, from 1915 to 1938.  At first he was the pastor of Holy Trinity Church.  1927 proved to be an eventful year for our saint.  First, in March, his mother, Adelaide, died at the age of 91.  Four months later a son, John, died by drowning in a lake.  Between those two deaths Holy Trinity Church merged with Zion Lutheran Church (also in town) to form St. John’s Lutheran Church.  Mattes became the assistant pastor of St. John’s Church.  In time the word “assistant” dropped from his title.

Pittston Gazette, October 31, 1938, page 3

Above:  A Clipping from the Pittston Gazette, Pittston, Pennsylvania, October 31, 1938, Page 3

Accessed via newspapers.com

Mattes resigned his pastorate in late 1938 to become a professor of systematic theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, an institution of the more conservative American Lutheran Church (1930-1960).

Pittston Gazette, December 30, 1938, page 3

Above:  A Clipping from the Pittston Gazette, Pittston, Pennsylvania, December 30, 1938, Page 3

Accessed via newspapers.com

Mattes, a product of a leading family of the old General Council (1867-1918), complained–frequently in writing–about the United Lutheran Church in America, or ULCA (1918-1962).  He was a Confessional Lutheran, and one of the bases of the merger had been flexibility in theology.  (This helps to explain why most denominational mergers occur to the theological left.)  The ULCA permitted more theological flexibility than our saint liked.  Thus Mattes, who had served as the President of the Wilkes-Barre Conference of the ULCA and helped to create the Common Service Book, left for the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960) in 1939.

The American Lutheran Church (1930-1960) was the result of the merger of three denominations:

  1. The Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States (1818-193o), which refused to join the General Synod (1820-1918);
  2. The Synod of Iowa and Other States (1854-1930), which separated from the Missouri Synod (1847-present); and
  3. the Buffalo Synod (1845-1930), which was of Prussian immigrant origin and strict doctrinal standards, out of reaction against the forced merger of the Lutheran and Reformed churches back home.

One consequence of the mergers which produced the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (1917-1960), which renamed itself The Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1946, and the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) was to inspire the three-way union which created the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960), whose ecclesiastical relations with the Missouri Synod irritated both the right wing of the Missouri Synod and the Missouri Synod’s more conservative ecumenical partners.  (I have been spending much time studying U.S. Lutheran denominations.)

Mattes taught at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1939 to 1948.  He died in that city on January 27, 1948.  Caroline Niedt Mattes, his wife, survived him, as did six of their children:  Henry, Alfred, Dorothea, Olga, Emma, and Charles.  Other legacies survive.  I think of his contributions to the Common Service Book (1917), the imprints he left in lives during nearly four decades of parish ministry, the influences which have passed down through his family, and the effects he had on students, and therefore on those whose lives they affected.

Mattes is a fine addition to my calendar of saints.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially John Caspar Mattes)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of William Morton Reynolds (September 5)   Leave a comment

Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, August 1863

Above:  Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, August 1863

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-35100

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WILLIAM MORTON REYNOLDS (MARCH 4, 1812-SEPTEMBER 5, 1876)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Hymn Translator

The name of William Morton Reynolds came to my attention via W. G. Polack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, Second Edition (1942).  I am glad that it did.

Reynolds, son of a veteran of the U.S. War for Independence, was a native of Fayette County, Pennsylvania.  He attended Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg (1828-1830), and Jefferson College, Canonsburg (1830-1832).  Reynolds taught in New Jersey for a year (1832-1833) before becoming the principal of the preparatory department of and Professor of Latin at Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg (1833-1835).  He resigned due to concerns that his abolitionist stance on slavery would alienate Southern donors.  Thus our saint, licensed to preach in 1835 and ordained in the Ministerium of Pennsylvania the following year, served as the pastor of a Lutheran church in Deerfield, New Jersey, for about a year.

Our saint spent most of his career as an educator.  Pennsylvania College called him back to his old job in 1836; there he remained until 1850, when he became the President of Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, the seminary of the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States.  In 1853 Reynolds left Capital University to become the principal of a female seminary in Easton, Pennyslvania.  After that he served as the principal of a classical school (a forerunner of Muhlenberg College) in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  From 1857 to 1860 our saint served as the President of Illinois State University.  His next post was principal of a female seminary in Chicago.

Reynolds–abolitionist, educator, and liturgist–supported progressive causes in the context of doctrinal orthodoxy.  (There were always prominent Lutherans to his right, however.  He was, therefore, slightly to the right of the Lutheran center at the time.)

  1. Abolitionism, although widely accepted today, was controversial in the 1800s.  It was, sadly, never a majority opinion (even in the North) during the antebellum period.  Other antislavery positions, such as colonization, free soil, and free labor, competed in the marketplace of antislavery arguments.  Many Northerners, however, did not object to slavery.
  2. As for internal Lutheran politics,  the relationship between the Ministerium of Pennsylvania (founded in 1748), the oldest Lutheran jurisdiction in the United States, and the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S.A. (1820-1918) was tense.  The Ministerium, a charter member of the General Synod, departed in 1823, citing doctrinal concerns.  It returned thirty years later, only to leave again in 1864, citing doctrinal concerns.  The Ministerium helped to form the more conservative General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  The General Synod and the General Council were two of the three bodies which reunited to form the United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962).  Our saint’s ordination came via the Ministerium in 1836, as I have written already.  Six years later he was chiefly responsible for the formation of the East Pennsylvania Synod, which affiliated with the General Synod and covered the same territory as the Ministerium.
  3. Reynolds and Charles Philip Krauth founded and edited the Evangelical Review, the first issue of which rolled off the presses in July 1849.  The Review was a publication devoted to doctrinal orthodoxy, as Reynolds and Krauth understood it.  Many of our saint’s English-language translations of German hymns appeared in the Review.

Reynolds was a liturgist. He served on the committee which produced Hymns, Original and Selected, for Public and Private Use, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1850), a hymnal of the General Synod.  And, as I indicated above, he translated German hymns.  Locating unaltered versions of his translations in my large collection of hymnals (many of them old) has proven challenging.  Even The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contains an altered translation.  I did find an unaltered text in The Lutheran Hymnary (1935), however.  The last three stanzas of a Christmas hymn, “Come, Thou Savior of Our Race,” a text originally in Latin, were, according to Reynolds:

From the Father forth He came,

And returneth to the same,

Captive leading death and hell:

High the song of triumph tell.

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Equal to the Father now,

Though to dust Thou once didst bow;

Boundless shall Thy kingdom be:

When shall we its glories see?

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Brightly doth Thy manger shine,

Glorious is its light divine:

Let not sin o’ercloud this light,

Ever be our faith thus bright.

Reynolds became an Episcopal priest in 1864 and spent the rest of his life in parish ministry.  He served as the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Warsaw, Illinois (1865-1871), and Christ Church, Oak Park (then called Harlem), Illinois (1872-1876).  Our saint’s academic pursuits continued, as his annotated translation (1874) of A History of New Sweden; or, the Settlements on the River Delaware, by Israel Acrelius, attests.

The legacy of William Morton Reynolds is a fine one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF ALFRED LEE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially William Morton Reynolds)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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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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