Lutherans

Lutherans


THE LUTHERANS, --The Swedes who began their settlement on the Delaware in 1637 were the first Lutherans in America who could boast of a complete church organization and house of worship. It is probable, however, that representatives of Lutheranism were found among the Dutch in New York prior to the planting of the Swedish colony. The Jesuit Jogues noticed their presence during his stay in the province (1642, 1643). But, while they were early on the ground, they were not in condition to make much advancement. The Dutch Reformed were of the opinion that the Augsburg Confession was not entitled to any hospitality in a territory which had been consecrated to the sacred theology of Dort. Scant privileges were therefore allowed to the Lutherans; and when their first pastor arrived, in 1657, he was ungraciously ordered back. This extreme of intolerance was indeed corrected some years later by the home authorities. Still it was not till the English occupation that the Lutherans in New York obtained pastoral oversight.


A few years after the surrender of New York by the Dutch, a detachment of Lutherans proceeded to the Carolinas. Of their religious history in their southern abode next to nothing is known till the eighteenth century. In the course of that century the Lutheran community in the Carolinas was augmented by emigrants from Germany and Switzerland.


The expatriation of the Salzburgers brought a considerable community of Lutherans to Georgia in the first years of its history. In 1741 they numbered not less than twelve hundred. Among all the immigrants professing the Lutheran faith none gave more careful heed to the claims of religion than this community.


A very large influx of German Lutherans, from Würtemberg, the Palatinate, Hesse-Darmstadt, and other German principalities, occurred in the first sixty years of the eighteenth century. The greater portion of them settled in Pennsylvania. Being generally very poor, and receiving no aid from the father-land, they were left for a time in strange destitution as regards religious ministrations, the number of pastors in the country being utterly inadequate to the demand. At length the cry of the more earnest for messengers of the gospel found a sympathetic response in Pietistic Halle. Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, who arrived from that institution in 1742, proved to be the forerunner of an efficient company of ministers from the same source.


In a few years the Lutheran interest presented a more organized and progressive aspect. The first Synod was constituted in 1748, with Lancaster and Philadelphia as the places of meeting, a second Synod was formed at Albany in 1786. The Revolutionary War intervened as a disturbing agency. Advance was also retarded by the ultra conservatism of a large party in maintaining the use of the German language for all church purposes. Still, assisted by a continuous stream of immigration, the Lutheran Church was destined in the next century to exhibit a very large growth. 1 See E. J. Wolf, The Lutherans in America.