Archive for the ‘John Christian Frederick Heyer’ Tag

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 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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