Thursday, October 7, 2010

Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, Pastor

Commemoration of Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, Pastor
Thursday after Pentecost 19
October 7, 2010

The Lord be with you

Today is the Commemoration of Pfarrer Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, a man who is sometimes called the Patriarch of American Lutheranism. He was born September 6, 1711, in Einbeck, Germany, and studied at Goettingen and at Halle. At this time Lutheranism, which had actually been in the New World for over a century, was badly disorganized. Three churches from Pennsylvania wrote to the University of Halle and requested a pastor. On September 6, 1741 the Rev. Dr. G. A. Francke responded by giving the call to the thirty-year-old Muhlenberg. Muhlenberg arrived in Charleston South Carolina on September 22, 1742 and would spend the rest of his life (45 years) in the American Colonies serving, not only the three Lutheran churches that called him, but through his travels and letters also Lutherans in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia.

A titireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first Lutheran synod in North America, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is rememberd as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and – above all – a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died October 7, 1787, and is buried at Trappe, Pennsylvania. His Epitaph (in Latin) reads: “Who and what he was, future ages will know without a stone.” He left behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism.

A number of reprints of Muhlenberg' s Journals have been made over the years. One of his sons, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, served as a general under George Washington in the War of Independence. Another, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, became a member of the Continental Congress, and first speaker of the House of Representatives. He was also the first person to sign the Bill of Rights.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

No comments:

Post a Comment