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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : LUTHERANS IN VIBGINIA.

American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente

LUTHERANS IN VIBGINIA.

79. G. Henkel, Stoever, Klug at Spottsylvania. -- In 1754 Muhlenberg and the Pennsylvania Synod sent an appeal to both London and Halle in which they state: |Many thousands of Lutheran people are scattered through North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, etc.| When the Indians attacked New Bern, N. C., shortly after it had been founded in 1710 by 650 Palatines and Swiss, twelve Lutheran families escaped from the massacre and sought refuge in Virginia. Here Governor Spottwood allotted them homes in Spottsylvania County. Gerhard Henkel is said to have been their first pastor; but he served them for a short time only. Their number was increased by a colony of Alsatians and Palatinates. They had started for Pennsylvania, but, after various hardships on the voyage, in which many of their companions died, were purchased by Governor Spottwood, and sent by him to his lands in the same locality, on the upper Rappahannock, |twelve German miles from the sea.| (Jacobs, 184.) In 1728, after a vacancy of sixteen years, Henkel was succeeded by John Caspar Stoever, Sr., born in Frankenberg, Hesse, who came to America with his younger relative of the same name, the latter being active for many years as a missionary in Pennsylvania. Stoever's salary in Virginia was three thousand pounds of tobacco a year. In 1734 he and two members of his congregation, Michael Schmidt and Michael Holden, went to Europe to collect a fund for the endowment of their church. |Because the congregation,| as an old report has it, |ardently desires that the Evangelical truth should not be extinguished with his death, but be preserved to them and their descendants, the said preacher, Rev. Stoever, toward the close of the year 1734, . . . undertook a voyage to Europe to collect a fund for the continuance of their service, the building of a church and school, and the endowment of the ministry.| (G., 115.) In London they were cordially received by Ziegenhagen, and recommended to Germany and Holland. Besides a large amount of money, they procured a library of theological books. George Samuel Klug offered his services as a pastor, and, after his ordination at Danzig, August 30, 1736, proceeded to Virginia with one of the laymen. After completing his collections, Stoever returned, in 1838, but died at sea. The contributions which Stoever had collected amounted to three thousand pounds, one-third of which paid the expenses, and the rest the building of a chapel (Hebron Church) and the purchase of farmlands and slaves. Muhlenberg, Sr., wrote: |It is said to be a profitable plantation, and owns several slaves to till the land.| (G., 606.) Pastor Klug, who, in order to relieve the monotony of his isolation, made occasional visits to the Lutheran ministers in Pennsylvania, wrote in 1749 that |the congregation was not in the least burdened by his support.| However, the endowment of the church seems to have been a hindrance rather than an advantage. The congregation lost many members to the Dunkards. Klug continued his ministry till 1761, when he was succeeded by Schwarbach, and later by Frank, both of whom were licensed at Culpeper, the latter for three years, beginning with 1775. Probably also Peter Muhlenberg preached in the old Hebron Church. Later on Paul Henkel, when active as a missionary in Virginia, had the congregation under his supervision.

80. Peter Muhlenberg and J. N. Schmucker at Woodstock. -- Many of the more enterprising of the Germans in Pennsylvania, notably in Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, and York Counties, pressed toward the frontiers of their State, and then followed the Cumberland Valley into Maryland and far beyond into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, their number being constantly increased by immigrants from Germany. To supply their needs, Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, in 1772, was sent to Virginia, Woodstock (Muellerstadt) being his home and the center of his field. Though serving practically none but German Lutherans, he sought and secured the ordination of the Episcopal Church in order to obtain legal recognition of his marriages. In Virginia the Protestant Episcopal Church was firmly established, and dissenters were compelled to pay an annual tribute to the established preachers. Says Muhlenberg, Sr.: |If dissenting parties were married by their own pastors, this was not legal, and they could not get off any cheaper than by paying the marriage dues to the established county preacher and obtaining a marriage certificate from him.| (G., 606.) Together with W. White, afterward Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, Peter Muhlenberg was ordained by the Bishop of London, after he had been examined and had subscribed to the Thirty-nine Articles. By the indifferentistic Germans and Swedes of those days such ordinations were generally regarded as a favor and comity from the Episcopalians rather than a humiliation and denial on the part of the Lutherans. Dr. Kunze says: |The bishops of London have never made a difficulty to ordain Lutheran divines, when called to congregations which, on account of being connected with English Episcopalians, made this ordination requisite. Thus by bishops of London the following Lutheran ministers were ordained: Bryselius, Peter Muhlenberg, Illing, Houseal, and Wagner. The last-mentioned was called, after having obtained this ordination, to an Ev. Lutheran congregation in the Margraviate of Anspach in Germany.| (Jacobs, 285.) Peter Muhlenberg viewed his Episcopal ordination as a purely civil affair, and, though claimed by the Episcopalians, he always regarded himself as a Lutheran. He died (1807) with the conviction that he had never been anything but a Lutheran. In a circular to the Lutheran churches of Philadelphia, dated March 14, 1804, he said: |Brethren, we have been born, baptized, and brought up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Many of us have vowed before God and the congregation, at our confirmation, to live and die by this doctrine of our Church. In the doctrine of our Church we have our joy, our brightest joy; we prize it the more highly since, in our opinion, it agrees most with the doctrine of the faithful and true witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. We wish nothing more than that we and our children and our children's children and all our posterity may remain faithful to this doctrine.| (284.) Among the friends of Peter Muhlenberg at Woodstock were George Washington and the orator of the Revolution, Patrick Henry. The story is well known how, after preaching a sermon on the seriousness of the times and pronouncing the benediction, he cast off his clerical robe, appearing before his congregation in the glittering uniform of a colonel. During the long vacancy which followed Wildbahn, Goering, and J. D. Kurtz preached occasionally in the old church at Woodstock. In 1805 John Nicholas Schmucker took charge of the field. He was a popular preacher, using, almost exclusively, also in the pulpit, the Pennsylvania German. |Zu so Kinner,| he said, |muss mer so preddige.| (G., 608.)

81. Patriotic Activity of Peter Muhlenberg. -- Peter was the oldest son of H. M. Muhlenberg. He was sent to the University of Halle for his theological training, where his independent spirit soon brought him into trouble. At one occasion he resented an insult on the part of his instructor with a blow. Forestalling expulsion, the young man enlisted in a German regiment, in which he was known as |Teufel Piet.| After two years of military training he returned to America, and consented to study theology under his father. After a short pastorate in New Jersey he was transferred to Woodstock. He traveled extensively through the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains to the west, preaching wherever Lutherans could be found. When the Revolution began, Peter Muhlenberg roused the patriotism of his fellow-Germans in Virginia, who were much better established and in closer touch with their English neighbors than those in North Carolina, many of them being acquainted with Lord Fairfax and George Washington and holding civil offices in their communities. Muhlenberg brought about, and was chairman of, the Woodstock Convention, June 16, 1774, at which the Germans united with their Scotch-Irish neighbors in a declaration against British tyranny, nearly a year before the famous Mecklenburg Declaration in May, 1775. The resolutions adopted at Woodstock were prepared by a committee, of which Muhlenberg was chairman. They read, in part, as follows: |That we will pay due submission to such acts of government as His Majesty has a right by law to exercise over his subjects, and to such only.| |That it is the inherent right of British subjects to be governed and taxed by representatives chosen by themselves only, and that every act of the British Parliament respecting the internal policy of America is a dangerous and unconstitutional invasion of our rights and privileges.| |That the enforcing of the execution of the said act of Parliament by military power will have a necessary tendency to cause a civil war, thereby dissolving that union which has so long happily subsisted between the mother country and her colonies; and that we will most heartily and unanimously concur with our suffering brethren of Boston and every other part of North America that may be the immediate victim of tyranny, as promoting all proper measures to avert such dreadful calamities to procure a redress of our grievances and to secure our common liberties.| After the Woodstock meeting Muhlenberg was elected a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia and also of the State Convention. He was appointed colonel of the Eighth regiment, afterwards known as the German regiment, which he also raised. After receiving his commission, Muhlenberg preached the famous war sermon which Colonel Roosevelt, several years ago, repeated in Collier's Weekly, in his plea for fair play for the Germans. Beneath his black pulpit robe, which is to-day in the possession of the Henkel Brothers' Publishing House, Peter Muhlenberg wore his uniform. In his sermon he spoke of the duties citizens owe to their country. In closing he said: |There is a time for preaching and praying; but there is also a time of fighting; now this time has come!| The service ended, he retired to the sacristy and came out the colonel. He made a speech from the front steps of his church and began the enlistment, 300 signing. In the war he distinguished himself at Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Yorktown, and was advanced to the rank of Major-General. The war over, Peter Muhlenberg served as Speaker of the House in Congress and afterwards as United States Senator. (Luth. Church Review 1919, 160 ff.)

82. Chr. Streit at Winchester, Henkel at New Market. -- In 1785 Christian Streit, who had been active in New Hanover, Pa., since 1782, came to Winchester, Va., where he served till 1812. Here the foundations for a church had been laid in 1704. According to a document found in the cornerstone, the congregation, then numbering 33 members, declared: |This temple is dedicated to the Triune God and the Lutheran religion; all sects, whatsoever their names may be, departing from, or not fully agreeing with, the Evangelical Lutheran religion, shall forever be excluded from it.| This document was signed by Caspar Kirchner, then pastor of the congregation, L. Adams, secretary, and Anton Ludi, schoolteacher. By the aid of a lottery the church was completed under Chr. Streit in 1787. William Carpenter, a scholar of Streit, labored in Madison Co., Va., from 1791 to 1813, when he removed to Kentucky. Augusta County, in the Shenandoah Valley, was almost exclusively settled by Germans, the Koiner (Coyner, Koyner, Coiner, Kiner, Cuyner) family, hailing from Wuerttemberg, being especially numerous. New Market, Shenandoah County, was the home of Paul Henkel (1754 -- 1825), who had studied German, Latin, Greek, and Theology under the direction of Pastor Krug in Pennsylvania, and was ordained at Philadelphia in 1792. A most zealous and energetic missionary, his journeys carried him into Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. From 1800 to 1805 he was stationed in Rowan Co., N. C., and took part in the organization of the Synod of North Carolina in 1803. Returning to Virginia in 1805, he, together with his six sons, established a printery at New Market, which loyally served the cause of true Lutheranism. As the years rolled on, the Henkels became increasingly free from the prevailing doctrinal indifferentism, and arrived at an ever clearer understanding of Lutheran truth, and this at a time when all existing Lutheran synods were moving in the opposite direction. The Lutheran loyalty and determination of the Henkels over against the unionistic and Reformed tendencies within the North Carolina Synod led to the organization of the Tennessee Synod, July 17, 1820, a synod which espoused the cause of pure Lutheranism, and zealously opposed the enthusiastic, unionistic, and Reformed aberrations then prevalent in all other Lutheran synods of America. Two years prior, September 14, 1818, Paul Henkel had participated in the organization of the Ohio Synod, at first called the General Conference of Evangelical Lutheran Pastors, etc. On October 11, 1820, conferences, which had met since 1793, led to the organization of the Synod of Maryland and Virginia at Winchester, Va., by ten pastors and nine delegates. Nine years later the Virginia Synod was organized; and the Southwest Virginia Synod, September 20, 1841.

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