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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 Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres (April 8)   1 comment

Above:  The Church of the Holy Communion, New York, New York

Image Source = New York Public Library

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HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 6, 1711-OCTOBER 7, 1787)

Patriarch of American Lutheranism

His feast day transferred from October 7

great-grandfather of

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG (SEPTEMBER 16, 1796-APRIL 8, 1877)

Episcopal Priest, Hymn Writer, and Liturgical Pioneer

colleague of

ANNE AYRES (JANUARY 3, 1816-1896)

Foundress of the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion

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One church, one book.

–Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

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October 7 is the feast day of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and The Lutheran Church–Canada.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (The Episcopal Church, 2016) lists William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayres on April 8.  However, since one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences, I have merged the commemorations.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg became the Patriarch of American Lutheranism.  He, born at Einbeck, Saxony, on September 6, 1711, attended the University of Gottingen.  Then our saint taught in the orphanage at Halle for 15 months.  He wanted to become a missionary to India, but became a pastor in Grosshennersdorf, Saxony, instead.  In September 1741 Muhlenberg visited Halle.  Soon thereafter he was en route to America, sent there by pastor August Herman Francke, who had also sent other missionaries to the New World.

Lutheranism was in a sorry state in America.  There was little organization above the parish level, liturgies varied widely, there were no firm standards for become an ordained minister, and adjacent Lutheran churches frequently had little to do with each other.  In 1741 Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon Lutheran layman and Moravian bishop, was visiting America.  While in Pennsylvania, he functioned as a Lutheran pastor at Philadelphia, creating a controversy in the church there.

Muhlenberg had a difficult set of tasks to complete.  His motto was Ecclesia Plantanda, or

The Church Must Be Planted.

Our saint arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1742.  Then he spent a week with the Jerusalem Lutheran Church at Ebenzezer, Georgia.  Muhlenberg arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 25, 1742.  Within a month he had ousted Zinzendorf from the pulpit.  On December 27, 1742, Muhlenberg became the pastor of several congregations.  He went on, within a year, to found a school per congregation and to found new churches.

During the following decades Muhlenberg planted and organized the church.  He founded new congregations, fostered unity among them, and established standards for ordination.  On August 26, 1748, at St. Michael’s Church, Philadelphia, ministers from 10 of the 70 Lutheran congregations in North America formed “The United Preachers of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of German Nationality in These American Colonies, Especially Pennsylvania,” the first synod.  In 1781, with the adoption of a constitution, the synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in North America.  The ministerium gave rise to other synods, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium in the State of New-York and Adjacent States and Countries (1786), led by John Christopher Kunze, Muhlenberg’s son-in-law.  The original synod became the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States in 1792.

Muhlenberg did much to build up the Ministerium in North America/of Pennsylvania.  He traveled from the northeast to Georgia.  In 1751 and 1752 he spent much time in New York City, where the dispute over what the proper language for worship should be had created divisions.  Our saint, who prioritized the Gospel of Jesus Christ over languages, preached in English, Dutch, and German every Sunday for months.  Over the years he struggled with Lutheran disunity; many Lutheran ministers did not relate to Halle, as he did.  Our saint also prepared a hymnal late in life.

On the personal side, Muhlenberg married Anna Mary Weiser, daughter of Indian agent Conrad Weiser, in April 1745.  Three of their sons became Lutheran ministers.  Although our saint ranged from Loyalism to neutrality during the American Revolutionary period, two of his sons (both of them ministers) chose to fight under the command of George Washington.  Peter (in full, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, 1746-1807) went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with Frederick (in full, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, 1750-1801), the first Speaker of the House.

Our saint died at Trappe, Pennsylvania, on October 7, 1787.  He was 76 years old.

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Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, first Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, had a son named Henry William Muhlenberg, who became a wine merchant in Philadelphia.  Henry William married Mary Sheefe.  The couple welcomed William Augustus Muhlenberg into the world on September 16, 1796.  He became a figure to rival his great-grandfather in terms of ecclesiastical importance.

William Augustus Muhlenberg, raised in a Lutheran home, became an influential Episcopal priest.  He studied at the University of Pennsylvania from 1812 to 1815, graduating as the English-language salutation.  His affinity for the English language, especially in worship, led him to join The Episcopal Church.  Such conversions were common at a time when German was the preferred language of worship in many Lutheran congregations, the leaders of which referred those who preferred to worship in English to Episcopal churches.  Muhlenberg became a priest, serving first as the assistant at Christ Church, Philadelphia, from 1817 to 1822.  (The rector of the parish was William White, also the Bishop and Pennsylvania and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.)  Then, for a few years, Muhlenberg was the Rector of St. James’s Church, Lancaster.  There he opened the first public school in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia.  Meanwhile, our saint had published a case for singing hymns instead of the traditional metrical Psalms.  Thus he served on the committee for the Prayer Book Collection (1826), an early Episcopal hymnal.

In 1826 Muhlenberg relocated to New York.  He became the Rector of St. George’s Church, Flushing, Long Island.  There he founded the Flushing Institute (later St. Paul’s College), which made him nationally famous for his advocacy of progressive educational methods.  At St. George’s Church Muhlenberg was a pioneer in liturgical renewal.  His church had vested choirs, candles and flowers on the altar, and greenery at Christmas.  If that were not enough, the church sang Christmas carols.  This was groundbreaking in a culture in which much of the dominant Protestant ethos did not support celebrating Christmas.

Muhlenberg received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Columbia College, New York, New York, in 1834.

In 1845 Muhlenberg founded the Church of the Holy Communion in the City of New York.  The architect of the edifice (dedicated in 1846) was Richard Upjohn (1802-1878).  Muhlenberg’s sister, the wealthy widow Mary A. Rogers, financed the construction of the building and much of the parish’s budget for years.  This patronage enabled the church to minister to members of all social classes; that was a priority for the priest and his sister.  One of the novelties at the Church of the Holy Communion was free pews–no pew rentals.  Our saint was also a pioneer in the Sunday School movement; the parish schools reflected this fact.  The church also offered unemployment benefits, operated an employment agency, provided medical services, and offered English-language classes.  Furthermore, the liturgical life of the parish was more advanced than at other churches.  Communion services were weekly, Morning and Evening Prayer were daily, Holy Week was a priority, and the choirs there were the first vested choirs in the city.  Beyond that, the use of colors, flowers, and music to increase the beauty of worship was influential.

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The parish dispensary became the genesis of St. Luke’s Hospital, New York City.  Muhlenberg served as the Superintendent and Chaplain there from 1858 to 1877.  He and Anne Ayres, a member of his congregation, founded the institution.

Ayres, born in London, England, on January 3, 1816, arrived in New York City in 1836.  For a few years she tutored children of the wealthy, but Muhlenberg’s influence prompted her to change the direction of her life.  In 1845 she and Muhlenberg founded the Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, dedicated to providing social services.  For many years members of the Sisterhood performed most of the nursing duties at St. Luke’s Hospital.  The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion was the first Anglican order for women founded in North America.

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Muhlenberg was an ecumenist.  In 1853 he presented a proposal before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.  Our saint, convinced that the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer (1789) were too rigid, proposed Articles of Union with Protestant bodies in a confederation, complete with Apostolic Succession.  The requirements were:

  1. The Apostles’ Creed;
  2. Ordination not repugnant to the Word of God;
  3. Common hymns, prayers, and Biblical readings; and
  4. A council on common affairs.

This proposal, the natural successor to The Evangelical Catholic (1851-1853), Muhlenberg’s monthly journal, went down in failure.  It did, however, influence the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (1886, 1888):

  1. The Old and New Testaments as scripture,
  2. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds,
  3. The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and
  4. Apostolic Succession.

In 1868 Muhlenberg served on a committee to discuss revising The Book of Common Prayer (1789).  Revision had to wait, however; the next edition debuted in 1892.

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Muhlenberg, who wrote hymns, chose to remain unmarried, so that he could have more time for ministry.  His theology was something science did not threaten; he did not oppose Evolution.  His priorities in ministry reflected his proto-Social Gospel ethos.  Among his final projects (with Anne Ayres) was St. Johnland, an intentional community for members of the working class on Long Island, away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.  There were family homes, group homes, businesses, a library, a church, et cetera.  Muhlenberg helped to finance St. Johnland.

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Muhlenberg died in New York City on April 8, 1877.  He was 80 years old.

Anne Ayres died in New York City on February 9, 1896.  She was 80 years old.

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The Ministeriums of Pennnsylvania and New York survived into the 1960s, when they, as part of The United Lutheran Church in America, merged into the Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg’s dream of a common liturgy for North American Lutherans has never become a reality.  The closest it came to reality was the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which, by the way, borrowed heavily from The Book of Common Prayer (1979), in development at the same time.

The Church of the Holy Communion closed in 1975 and merged with Calvary Episcopal Church and St. George’s Episcopal Church.  Since then the edifice has housed a series of establishments, including two night clubs (one of them notorious), an upscale store, and a gymnasium.

The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion ceased to exist in 1940.

St. Luke’s Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital merged in 1979.

St. Johnland survives as a nursing center.

Flowers and altar candles remain familiar sites in Episcopal hymnals.

The Episcopal Church has made the transition from metrical Psalms to hymns.

The Episcopal Church has entered into full communion agreements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in America.

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Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres did much to glorify God, build up the church, and benefit many people.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, POPE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, William Augustus Muhlenberg, and Anne Ayres,

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 John Christian Frederick Heyer, Bartholomeaus Ziegengbalg, and Ludwig Nommensen (November 7)   2 comments

Jerusalem Cross

Above:  The Jerusalem Cross

Image in the Public Domain

Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them.  When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.  Jesus came up and spoke to them.  He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.  And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”

–Matthew 25:16-20, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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JOHN CHRISTIAN FREDERICK HEYER (JULY 10, 1793-NOVEMBER 7, 1873)

Lutheran Missionary in the United States and India

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BARTHOLOMAEUS ZIEGENBALG, JR. (JULY 10, 1682-FEBRUARY 23, 1719)

Lutheran Missionary to the Tamils

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LUDWIG INGWER NOMMENSEN (FEBRUARY 6, 1834-MAY 23, 1918)

Lutheran Missionary to Sumatra and Apostle to the Batak

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INTRODUCTION

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These three saints share the same feast day on the calendar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

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JOHN CHRISTIAN FREDERICK HEYER

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“Father” John Christian Frederick Heyer (born Johann Christian Friedrich Heyer on July 10, 1793) was a dedicated missionary.  He, a native of Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, was son of Fredericke Sophie Johane Wagener and Johann Heinrich Gottlieb Heyer, a furrier.  Our saint, confirmed at Helmstedt in 1807, left Europe at a young age.  His parents sent him to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where an uncle was a hatter and a furrier.  Heyer studied theology at Philadelphia then, starting in 1815, the University of Gottingen, having taught at Zion School, Philadelphia, from 1813 to 1815.  In 1816 he returned to the United States and became a licensed lay preacher.  Three years later he married Mary Gash (died in 1839), a widow with two children.  The couple had six children from 1818 to 1827.  Heyer, ordained in 1820, was a missionary in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and other states for two decades.  He founded congregations in states from New York and Pennsylvania to Missouri.  Heyer, as an agent (1829-1831) of the Sunday School Union of the Lutheran Church in the United States, organized Sunday Schools.  He also served as the founding pastor (1837-1840) of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the first English-speaking Lutheran church west of the Allegheny Mountains.  And, in 1829, our saint helped to found what became Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Then a different mission field beckoned.  Heyer learned Sanskrit then left for India, where he served from 1842 to 1845 and from 1847 to 1857 under the auspices of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States.  He was the first U.S. Lutheran missionary overseas.  In India Heyer founded what became the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (constituted in 1927).  Between stints in India our saint served as the pastor of St. John’s Church, Baltimore, Maryland, and earned his M.D. degree from the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland.  Back in India Heyer worked from two locations, but mainly from Rajahmundry (now in the territory of the Church of South India), site of a mission statement the North German Missionary Society could no longer afford to maintain.  He also built schools and hospitals.

 In 1857 the 60-year-old Heyer returned to the United States.  William Passavant (1821-1894) recruited our saint to undertake German-language missions in Minnesota, under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of East Pennysylvania.  In 1860 Heyer founded the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Minnesota and Other States.  He continued to work in the Midwest until 1869.

Heyer’s third missionary stint in India, under the auspices of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, from 1869 to 1871.  He returned to Rajahmundry, where he reorganized the work of the mission station rather than transfer it to the (Anglican) Church Mission Society.

Heyer returned to the United States again in 1871.  The following year he became the chaplain and house father of the new Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He continued this work until he died on November 17, 1873.  He was 80 years old.

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BARTHOLOMAEUS ZIEGENBALG, JR.

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Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., had a shorter life yet left no less impressive a legacy.  The native of Pulsnitz, Saxony, born on July 10, 1682, was son of Maria Bruckner (1646-1692) and Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Sr. (1640-1694), a grain merchant.  Our saint studied at the University of Halle before becoming, with Heinrich Plutschau, under the patronage of King Frederick IV of Denmark (reigned 1699-1730), half of the first Protestant missionary team in India.  The two arrived at Tranquebar, a Danish colony, on July 9, 1706.  He remained in India for most of the rest of his life, spending about two years (1714-1716) in Europe.

Zieganbalg’s time in India was eventful.  He spent two short terms (a few months each) in jail–once due to a dispute regarding whether the baptism of the child of a Danish soldier and a non-Christian woman should occur in a Roman Catholic or a Protestant church and once because of a dispute with some Hindus who objected to the fact that he was converting other Hindus to Christianity.  Ziegenbalg also argued with Brahmins about the poor treatment of lower-caste Hindus, established a Tamil printing press, and used it.  Our saint, married in 1716, published hymnals, catechisms, and part of the Bible in the Tamil language.  He also translated the New Testament (1708-1711; published in 1715) and the Old Testament through the Book of Ruth prior to dying on February 23, 1719, aged 36 years.

Ziegenbalg, unlike Heyer, cooperated across denominational lines.  He considered missionaries of the (Anglican) Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) his partners, not his rivals.

Ziegenbalg contended with challenges in his work as a missionary.  There were, of course, hostility from Hindus and competition from Roman Catholic priests.   The weather–the heat and the wind–were physical challenges.  Racism, cultural imperialism, and ethnocentrism on the part of colonists, who looked down upon Tamils and did not want to grant them access to colonists’ congregations, were other obstacles.  Ziegenbalg had to found a Tamil congregation, the Church of the New Jerusalem, in fact.  He recognized the fact that the church in India needed to be Indian, not European.  This was not obvious to many Europeans in India at the time as well as later, but it proved to be correct and prescient.

At the time of Ziegenbalg’s death his legacy consisted of two church buildings, a seminary, and about 250 baptized Christians, plus the products of his printing press.  That legacy has grown to include the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (constituted in 1919), with roots in his missionary efforts.

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LUDWIG INGWER NOMMENSEN

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Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen, born on February 6, 1834, became the “Apostle to the Batak” on the island of Sumatra, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).  His mother was Anna Nommensen and his father was Peter Nommensen.  The native of Nordstrand, North Frisia, Denmark, had overcome, partly by prayer, the inability to walk in 1846-1849, after a horse cart crushed his legs.  From 1857 to 1862 he prepared to become a missionary under the auspices of the Rhenish Missionary Society, which sent him to Sumatra.

Nommensen worked among the Batak people.  He arrived in 1862.  By 1865 he had converted about 2000 people.  Many of these individuals, who had to leave their homes and villages, resided in the Village of Peace, which Nommensen had founded.  Meanwhile, Nommensen translated the New Testament; he completed that task in 1878.  he also married Margarethe Carolina Gutbrod (died in Germany in 1887), his first wife, in 1866.  The couple had six children, two of whom died in the Dutch East Indies–in 1868 and 1872.

Nommensen’s success as a missionary attracted both friendly and hostile attention.  In 1878, during a conflict between certain natives and the Dutch colonial government, he functioned as a translator for and a consultant to the Dutch colonial army.  Our saint’s purpose was to protect Christian villagers, who, like Dutch colonists, were targets of certain Batak potentates.  Many of the Batak people came to perceive Nommensen as their protectors against Dutch influences.  He also survived attempts to kill him.

Nommensen, much like Ziegenbalg before him, was a translator and writer.  He translated the New Testament into Batak, for example.  He also translated Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and wrote a book of Bible stories as well as a series of booklets.  He also wrote about 40 articles for mission journals.

The missionary, who relocated on Sumatra in 1885, remarried seven years later.  He and Anna Magdalena Christina Harder (died in 1909), had at least two children.  Our saint built up an indigenous church that, as of his death on May 23, 1918, had about 180,000 members, 34 indigenous pastors, 788 teachers, and 500 congregations.  The Batak Christian Protestant Church became independent in 1931.

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CONCLUSION

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I like the coincidence of celebrating the lives and living legacies of these three pioneering missionaries on the same date as Sts. Willibrord and Boniface, also apostles to unchurched populations.   The reason for the coincidence is the death of Father Heyer on November 7, the Feast of St. Willibrord on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.  I also notice that Nommensen was a native of Frisia, an area evangelized by Sts. Willibrord and Boniface.  He owed his faith partially to their missionary endeavors.  And others, of course, owe their faith partially to his work or to that of Heyer or Ziegenbalg.

That faith we give away which we take with us to Heaven.  One might not travel to a remote location and risk martyrdom; that is not God’s call upon the life of everyone.  To share one’s faith, however, is a mandate for all who have faith in God in Christ.  However and wherever God commands you to do this, O reader, may you do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FOSTER, ENGLISH MORAVIAN BISHOP, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BROWNLIE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

John Christian Frederick Heyer, who made the good news known in the United States and India;

Bartholomeaus Ziegenbalg, Jr., who made the good news known to the Tamils in India; and

Ludwig Nommensen, who made the good news known to the Batak on Sumatra.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of George Henry Trabert (September 18)   1 comment

Trabert

Above:  George Henry Trabert

Image Source = http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/t/r/a/trabert_gh.htm

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GEORGE HENRY TRABERT (OCTOBER 16, 1843-SEPTEMBER 15, 1931)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Missionary, and Hymn Translator and Author

How often have you, O reader, read the names of authors and translators of hymns and wondered who those people were?  How often have you wanted to learn their stories?  Such inquisitiveness prompted me to learn and write about George Henry Trabert.

Trabert wrote hymns, translated 40 Swedish hymns into English, served as the first English-language missionary for the Augustana Synod in Minnesota, wrote works of church history, and founded then led a social services agency.  He left a great legacy, to the glory of God.

Our saint’s story began with two German immigrants, Christopher A. Trabert and Fredericka Stappf Trabert.  They settled in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  There our saint entered the world on October 16, 1843.  At the time of the U.S. Census of 1850 the Trabert household consisted of the parents, our saint, John William Trabert (aged four years), and Anna S. Trabert (aged two years).  The family remained intact for the next decade; a new brother, Christian E. Trabert, was present at the time of the U.S. Census of 1860.

Our saint grew up and left the nest.  In 1867 he graduated from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Three years later he completed his studies at and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  By then he was a married man, having wed Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Minnigh (June 5, 1842-January 15, 1930), of Gettysburg, at St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church there on June 23, 1869.  The German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States ordained Trabert in 1870.

The first stage of Trabert’s career occurred in Pennsylvania.  His first pastorate was Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ephrata, where he served until 1873.  From 1873 to 1877 Trabert was the pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Elizabethtown, and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mount Joy.  Then, from 1877 to the end of 1882, he served as pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon.

Meanwhile, on the home front, our saint’s household was growing in number.  Children born were:

  1. Charles Luther Trabert (1871-1945);
  2. Ernest E. Trabert (born circa 1873);
  3. George Christopher Trabert (1874-1886), who died of diptheria;
  4. Elizabeth F. Trabert (born circa 1876);
  5. Paul Melancthon Trabert (1878-1886), who died of diptheria;
  6. Elsie Amelia Trabert (1879-1886), who died of diptheria; and
  7. Ruth E. Trabert (born circa 1881), who became Ruth E. Smith.

Augustana Synod Logo

Above:  Logo of the Augustana Synod

Effective January 1, 1883, Trabert became a missionary for the Augustana Synod, which was of Swedish immigrant origin.  Both the Ministerium of Pennyslvania and the Augustana Synod belonged to the same umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  The Augustana Synod, which retained the use of the Swedish language into the twentieth century, undertook some missionary work in the English language.  Trabert became their first English-language missionary in Minnesota.  His tenure in the Augustana Synod lasted until 1892.  Trabert, supported also by St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, organized four churches in Minneapolis, one in St. Paul, one in Red Wing, and one in Duluth.  The first two congregations were St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (organized June 8, 1883), and Memorial English Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paul (organized July 24, 1883).  These churches became the cradle of the General Synod’s English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest (1891).  Other congregations Trabert organized included St. Paul English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Redwing (1884); Elim English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Duluth (1890); and Salem English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (1890).  There were also, of course, other English-language Lutheran missionaries organizing and leading congregations in Minnesota and neighboring territories and states, as well as southern Canada.

The legacy of Memorial English Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Paul, has survived via a series of mergers.  In 1910 the congregation consolidated with St. James English Evangelical Lutheran Church to form Reformation Lutheran Church.  In 1977 that congregation consolidated with St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (founded in 1917) to create St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church.

On the home front joy and sorrow marked the Traberts’ life together.  Three children died of diptheria in November 1886, but five new members joined the family from 1883 to 1892:

  1. William Henry Trabert (1883-1906),
  2. Allen Trabert (born circa 1884),
  3. Maude Trabert (born circa 1886),
  4. Arthur Trabert (born circa 1889), and
  5. Earl Trabert (born circa 1892).

In 1892 Trabert resigned as the pastor of St. John’s, Minneapolis, and returned to Pennsylvania, where he remained for a few years.  He served at St. Paul’s, Warren, from 1892 to 1896 before transferring to St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wilkes-Barre, which he left in 1897.  Minnesota beckoned again.

Salem Lutheran Church

Source = The Minneapolis Journal, Saturday, June 25, 1904, page 10

Accessed via newspapers.com

From 1897 to 1920 Trabert served as the pastor of Salem English Evangelical Lutheran  Church, Minneapolis.  (He had organized that congregation seven years prior.)  While there our saint served beyond the local church.  He was, for example, the President of the Synod of the Northwest from 1901 to 1905.  Furthermore, Trabert became involved in providing social services.

Trabert founded the Lutheran Inner Mission Society of Minneapolis in 1905 and served as its president until 1915.  This organization merged with The Colony of Mercy (founded in 1919) to become the Inner Mission Society in 1922.  Five years later the Inner Mission Society changed its name to The Lutheran Welfare Society, which, in 1963, merged with the Board of Christian Service (late of the Minnesota Conference of the Augustana Synod) to create Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.  The Inner Mission Society named the Hospice (more of a hotel) for Young Women, capable of housing 78 residents in the original structure and 92 more in the annex), acquired in 1919, Trabert Hall in honor of our saint.

Trabert retired in 1920, having lived for 76 years and served as an active minister for half a century.  He remained in Minneapolis.  At the time of the U.S. Census of 1920 his household included his beloved Lizzie (77); a daughter, Ruth (38); her husband, Rolland A. Smith (40); and their children, Charles P. Smith (6) and Priscilla E. Smith (newborn).  Lizzie died on January 15, 1930, after 60 years of marriage.  Trabert continued to live with Ruth and her family until he died, aged 87 years, on September 15, 1931.

Trabert left a written legacy also.  He translated 40 Swedish hymns into English and wrote at least two original hymns.  (I have located four of these texts and added them to my GATHERED PRAYERS weblog.)  He also translated The Life of Luther in Picture and Verse, by J. A. Darmstedter, from German into English in 1879.  Furthermore, Trabert wrote the following published works:

  1. Genuine vs. Spurious Revivals:  A Tract (1876);
  2. The Mode of Baptism as Taught in God’s Word:  A Sermon Preached in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Elizabethtown and Mount Joy, Pa. (1876);
  3. Ebenezer:  An Address Delivered in St. John’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minn. (1890);
  4. Historical Sketch of the Mission of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Among the Telugus of India (1890);
  5. Church History for the People (1897);
  6. Questions and Answers on Luther’s Small Catechism:  For the Use of the Church, School and Family (1911); and
  7. English Lutheranism in the Northwest (1914).

Dorris A. Flesner wrote a biography, George Henry Trabert:  Pioneer English Lutheran Home Missionary in Minnesota (1985).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant George Henry Trabert,

who made the good news known in Minnesota.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Luther D. Reed (April 3)   2 comments

Lutheran Books February 13, 2016

Above:  Some of Luther Reed’s Major Works and Immediate Successors Thereto

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor, February 13, 2016

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LUTHER DOTTERER REED (MARCH 21, 1873-APRIL 3, 1972)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist

Luther Dotterer Reed was an influential Lutheran liturgist in the United States.  He was chiefly responsible for the creation of the Common Service Book (1917) and the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), two of the major Lutheran service-books of the twentieth century.

Reed was a son of the Church.  He entered the world at North Wales, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1873.  His parents were Annie Linley Reed and Ezra L. Reed, a Lutheran minister of the old Ministerium of Pennsylvania and its umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  From his father our saint learned much, including music and the Mercersburg Theology (high church Calvinism) of the Reformed Church in the United States (1793-1934).  Reed came under the direct influence of the Mercersburg Theology at his father’s alma mater, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1892.  Next our saint matriculated at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereafter LTS Mt. Airy), from which he graduated in 1895.

Reed was a parish minister for just a few years.  Upon graduating from LTS Mt. Airy he entered the liturgical boondocks of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  Western Pennsylvania was an unlikely place for a Lutheran minister with a strong liturgical bent.  In 1895 our saint became the pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allegheny, across the river from Pittsburgh.  As Reed described the facility, it was a chapel with a central pulpit and a lunch table for an altar.  Traditionally the pastor wore street clothes to church on Sundays.  In 1903, when our saint left for his next posting, there was a choir (which he had directed), he wore a Geneva robe to church on Sundays, and the use of vestments and paraments had begun.  Reed studied at the University of Leipzig in 1902.  He served as pastor in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, briefly before returning to his alma mater, LTS Mt. Airy, in 1906.  There he remained in one capacity or another until 1950.

Luther D. Reed

Above:  An Item in the Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, May 24, 1905, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

Reed worked beyond the parish and seminary levels, frequently in the cause of liturgical renewal.  He understood worship as occupying the center of Christian life.  The beauty of worship matters, he insisted, for it can inspire one to commit good works–lead one into the world.  From 1898 to 1906 our saint led the Lutheran Liturgical Association, the goal of which was to convince U.S. Lutherans to accept the Common Service (1888) as something simple yet dignified and Lutheran yet catholic.  Reed edited the Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association (1906).  From 1907 to 1936 he served as the President of the Church Music and Liturgical Art Society.  And, from 1930 to 1940, he was the President of the Associated Bureaus of Church Architecture of the United States and Canada, devoted to encouraging architecture suitable for proper liturgy.

Reed married Catharine S. Ashbridge (1878-1942) in 1906.  They remained married until by her death they did part.

Book Dedication

Above:  The Dedication to The Lutheran Liturgy (1947)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1906 Reed went to work at LTS Mt. Airy, where he would have preferred to remain since his graduation 11 years earlier.  Until 1950 he served as the Director of the Krauth Memorial Library.  From 1911 to 1945 our saint was Professor of Liturgics and Church Art.  He was the first such professor at any Protestant theological seminary in North America.  And, from 1938 to 1945 Reed was also the president of the seminary.  If that were not enough, the served as the Archivist of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania from 1909 to 1939, and, starting in 1919, of the new United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), which he had helped to form via merger.

Reed served as the chairman of the joint commissions that created the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) and its successor, the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He also wrote two editions (1947 and 1959) of The Lutheran Liturgy, both classic works of Christian liturgical history and commentary on the then-current Lutheran services.  [Aside:  The best way to enjoy Reed’s depth of knowledge in liturgy is to read these two books.]  Reed favored restoring the Eucharistic canon, or prayer of thanksgiving, which Martin Luther had excised in the 1500s.  He included a proposed text for one on pages 336 and 337 of the first edition (1947) of The Lutheran Liturgy.  Variations on that canon graced the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), the Worship Supplement (1969), the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006).  Reed’s restoration of the Eucharistic canon took hold in North American Lutheranism beyond the lineages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  In 2008, for example, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) added an original Eucharistic canon in Christian Worship:  Supplement.  Other conservative Lutheran denominations have not restored the canon, however.

Reed, who received honorary degrees (including a Doctor of Divinity degree from Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, in 1912), was a gentle, kind, unassuming, and gracious gentleman.  Although our saint was not physically imposing he was intellectually masterful.  He wrote and contributed to volumes, mostly related to liturgics:

  1. The Psalter and Canticles; Pointed for Chanting to the Gregorian Psalm Tunes; with a Plain Song Setting for the Order of Matins and Vespers, Accompanying Harmonies, and Tables of Proper Psalms; for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1897);
  2. The Choral Service Book; Containing the Authentic Plain Song Intonations and Responses for the Order of Morning Service, the Order of Matins and Vespers, the Litany and the Suffrages of the Common Service for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations; with Accompanying Harmonies for Organ (1901);
  3. The Responsories:  Musical Setting (1914);
  4. Luther and Congregational Song (1947);
  5. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America (1947);
  6. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America (1959);
  7. Worship:  A Corporate Devotion (1959); and
  8. The Mind of the Church (1962).

Reed wrote a hymn and at least two hymn tunes also.  The hymn was “O God of Wondrous Grace and Glory” and the accompanying original tune was MOUNT AIRY.  He also composed the tune SURSUM CORDA.

Reed pondered what might and should follow the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He favored the inclusion of a provision for the procession of the bread and wine to the altar at the end of the offering.  This development became reality in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

Our saint died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1972.  He was 99 years old.  The  process of forging the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) was well underway.

Reed’s liturgical legacy thrives, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS, MISSIONARIES TO THE SLAVS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN MICHAEL ALTENBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR, COMPOSER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VICTOR OLOF PETERSEN, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN HYMN TRANSLATOR

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

thank you for those (especially Luther Dotterer Reed)

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 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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