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American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente


26. Germans versus Dutch. -- About 1742 the language question became acute in New York. Dutch immigration had ceased, while Germans arrived in ever increasing numbers. As a result the German communicants in New York outnumbered the Dutch about 8 to 1. As the spokesmen of the German element made unreasonable demands and met with unreasonable opposition on the part of the Dutch, frequent and stormy meetings became the order of the day. Pastor M. C. Knoll had labored faithfully; but, difficulties constantly increasing, he lost control of the situation, and toward the close of 1750 was compelled to resign his charge. Prior to this some of the Germans had withdrawn from Trinity Church, and organized as Christ Church, suffering themselves to be served by unworthy characters, such as J. L. Hofgut, J. P. Ries, P. H. Rapp, J. G. Wiesner, and J. M. Schaeffer. A better element having come into control, they called men whom H. M. Muhlenberg recommended: I. N. Kurtz, who had been active in Tulpehocken; I. G. Baugher (Bager), who came to America from Helmstedt in 1752, served New York from 1754 to 1767, and died in 1794; J.8. Gerock, who was sent to America by the Consistory of Wuerttemberg in 1755, served in Lancaster, then in New York from 1767 to 1773, and died in 1787; F. C. A. Muhlenberg, educated in Halle, who served Tulpehocken in 1770, New York from 1773 to 1776, and (having fled from New York when the British captured the city in the Revolutionary War) New Hanover in 1777. After 1779 F. C. A. Muhlenberg entered political life, being elected a member of the Continental Congress and Speaker of the Pennsylvania Legislature. He died in 1801. In the Dutch Trinity Church peace was restored by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who served as Knoll's successor from 1751 to 1753. Muhlenberg cultivated an intimate and fraternal intercourse with the Reformed and Episcopalian pastors, and inaugurated a period of pietism and unionism in New York. On his departure he recommended Pastor J. A. Weygand, who had been serving the Raritan congregations since his arrival, in 1748, from Halle. Weygand remained in New York until 1767. In 1755 he published an English translation of the Augsburg Confession. During his pastorate a parochial school was organized and housed in a building erected for that purpose. He died in 1770. Weygand's successor was Houseal (Hausihl), who had emigrated from Strassburg in 1752. In 1771 he conducted the last service in the Dutch language. In 1776 the church was reduced to ashes by the great fire which destroyed about one-fourth of the city. Though losing all his personal property, he rescued the documents and records of the old congregation. Being an ardent loyalist, he received permission from the British commander to use the Presbyterian church, where his services were also attended by the Hessian troops of the army. When peace was concluded, Houseal emigrated to Halifax, where he was ordained in the Episcopal Church and made chaplain of the garrison. Here he died in 1799.

27. Union Lauded by Kunze and Schaeffer. -- The two Lutheran congregations in New York reunited in 1783. The first pastor to serve them was J. C. Kunze. He was born in the vicinity of Mansfeld, received his preparatory education at Halle and other schools, and studied theology at the University of Leipzig. After a brief service in Halle, Kunze was called to be third pastor in Philadelphia. He landed in New York, September 22, 1770, accompanied by two sons of Muhlenberg, who had studied in Halle. In Philadelphia, where he married Muhlenberg's daughter, Kunze conducted a Seminary from 1773 till its close in 1776, and then successively occupied the chairs of Philosophy and of Oriental languages at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1773 this institution awarded him the title of Doctor of Divinity. In the following year he received the call from the reunited Lutheran congregation in New York, which he accepted. He entered upon his new labors with great zeal, and met with no little success, confirming 87 persons in the first six months. Kunze laid especial stress upon the English, which hitherto had been greatly neglected. He also educated young men for the English ministry. A year after his arrival in New York he published |The Rudiments of the Shorter Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther,| and ten years later, 1795, the first English Ev. Lutheran Hymn- and Prayer-book. In the same year he issued a new translation of the Small Catechism, containing, besides the six chief parts, also, the Christian Questions, 103 fundamental questions, and a |Systematic Presentation of the Order of Salvation.| (527.) Kunze was also the first president of the New York Ministerium, organized at Albany in 1786. At his burial, in 1807, the Reformed Pastor Runkel delivered the funeral oration. While a learned man, a hard worker, a man of great influence, a man also who sought to familiarize not only the German, but also the English element of his church with the doctrines of the Catechism, Kunze was not a sound and staunch Lutheran on the order of Berkenmeyer or Falckner. He had no adequate appreciation for the doctrinal differences which separate the Lutherans and the Reformed. In the appendix to his Hymn- and Prayer-book of 1795 Kunze wrote: |That the two Protestant Churches have often shown animosities against one another is true and to be lamented. But that such times are past is a truth more joyful than another, which likewise ought not to be concealed, and [viz.] that true piety in the Evangelical Church stands highly in need of a new and energetic revival, and that it is doubtful in many cases whether the present union of the two churches, which, however, every true Christian will wish to be indissoluble, has its origin in enlightened ideas or in worldly interest, in brotherly love or in indifference.| (528.) Kunze's pupil, G. Strebeck, who had been called to preach English in the Old Congregation, organized an English Lutheran Church instead, and in 1804, with a part of his English flock, united with the Episcopal Church. The English congregation now called as its pastor a man who had been excommunicated from the Presbyterian Church on account of Chiliasm, who, in turn, was succeeded by a former Methodist preacher, under whom, in 1810, the entire congregation followed Strebeck into the Episcopalian fold.

28. Reformation Jubilee in 1817. -- In the mother congregation Kunze, who died 1807, was succeeded by F. W. Geissenhainer. When the latter was no longer able to supply the growing need for English services, F. C. Schaeffer was called in his stead, with the duty expressly imposed upon him of preaching also in English. In 1817, at the tercentenary of the Reformation, Schaeffer arranged a great celebration in which he was assisted by an Episcopalian, a Reformed, and a Moravian pastor. Dr. Spaeth: |Here also [in America, as in Prussia] a great Reformation Jubilee was celebrated in 1817. Here also it was, in the first place, of a unionistic character. The Ministerium of Pennsylvania invited the Moravians, Episcopalians, Reformed, and Presbyterians to unite with them in this celebration. In the city of New York the eloquent Lutheran pastor, F. C. Schaeffer, having kept the jubilee in the morning with his own congregation, delivered an English discourse in the afternoon in St. Paul's Episcopal Church on the text, 'I believe, therefore I have spoken.' Thousands were unable to find admittance to the service, so great was the throng.| (C. P. Krauth, 1, 322.) Rejoicing in the growth of unionism, Schaeffer said in his sermon: |In Germany, the cradle of the Reformation, the 'Protestants' are daily becoming more united in the bond of Christian charity. Whilst the asperities, which indeed too often affected the Great Reformers themselves, no longer give umbrage; whilst the most laudable and beneficial exertions are universally made by evangelical Christians to remove every sectarian barrier, the 'Evangelical Church,' extending her pale, becomes more firmly established. And though we have melancholy evidence that the state and disposition of the present Romish Church calls loudly for a reformation, we must not omit the pleasing fact that many of her worthy members are conscientiously alive to the cause of truth and enlightened Christianity.| (G., 654.) But, instead of more firmly establishing the Lutheran Church, the indifferentism and unionism introduced into New York by the Halle Pietists soon opened wide her gates to a flood of rationalism.

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