Lutherans in America

Lutherans in America: A New History

Mark Granquist
Copyright Date: 2015
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9m0t8g
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    Lutherans in America
    Book Description:

    The story of Lutherans in America is one of mutual influence. From the first small groups of Lutherans to arrive in the colonies, to the large immigrations to the rich heartland of a growing nation, Lutherans have influenced, and been influenced by, America. In this lively and engaging new history, Granquist brings to light not only the varied and fascinating institutions that Lutherans founded and sustained but the people that lived within them. The result is a generous, human history that tells a complete story—not only about politics and policies but also the piety and the practical experiences of the Lutheran men and women who lived and worked in the American context. Bringing the story all the way to the present day and complemented with new charts, maps, images, and sidebars, Granquist ably covers the full range of Lutheran expressions, bringing order and clarity to a complex and vibrant tradition.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9429-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Images
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Credits
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This is a book that has had a long gestational period. I have been working in the religious-history field for over twenty-five years, and the standard history of American Lutheranism,The Lutherans in North America, edited by E. Clifford Nelson, was already fifteen years old when I began my own study on the topic. In the past few years, as I have been teaching this history to students at Luther Seminary, it has become clear that although the older histories were (and still are) invaluable, the story of American Lutheranism has shifted in significant ways during the past forty years....

  6. Chapter 1 The European Background to American Lutheranism
    (pp. 7-32)

    Before beginning the history of Lutherans in America, it is important to understand the origins and progress of Lutheranism in Europe. When Lutherans began to come to the New World early in the seventeenth century, the Lutheran movement was already one hundred years old, and it continued to grow and develop in important ways, especially during the next two hundred years. Lutheran immigration from Europe to America continued in large numbers up until the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and subsequent immigrants continued to bring with them the issues and developments of European Lutheranism. Even in the...

  7. Excursus 1 Rasmus Jensen and Danish Exploration
    (pp. 33-34)

    He thought he was going to India. He wasn’t even supposed to be in North America, but he ended up dying there, and never did make it to Asia. But one thing makes us remember the name of Rasmus Jensen, that he was the very first Lutheran pastor in North America.

    In the seventeenth century, all the European nations were establishing trading posts in Asia, and King Christian IV of Denmark wanted to do so as well. So, in 1619, the king sent out two expeditions to India. One traveled the usual route around the southern tip of Africa and...

  8. Chapter 2 Beginnings, 1619–1720
    (pp. 35-58)

    Lutheran beginnings in America were generally a byproduct of seventeenth-century exploration and economic adventure by European individuals and governmentsanctioned groups. As Europeans looked to the west, they saw opportunity and adventure in the “unsettled” lands of North America, and they sought to make their fortunes there. Although initially they focused mainly on trading and fishing expeditions, it soon became clear that permanent European settlements in America were needed to sustain and further prosecute the economic ventures that had already begun. These initial colonial trading centers slowly evolved into full-fledged settlements; though they were still colonies dependent on trade with European...

  9. Excursus 2 Lutherans in the Caribbean
    (pp. 59-60)

    It is somewhat ironic that, for a northern European religious tradition, a number of the first Lutheran settlements in the Americas were attempted in the Caribbean. There have been Lutherans in some parts of this region for almost four hundred years, and there are currently substantial numbers of Lutherans in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and Suriname, with other scattered congregations in Antigua, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti. One of the current sixty-five synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Caribbean Synod, is wholly in this area, consisting of congregations in the Virgin Island and Puerto...

  10. Chapter 3 Early Colonial Developments, 1720–1748
    (pp. 61-84)

    By the year 1720, a number of Lutheran congregations had been established from New York to Virginia and in the Virgin Islands, but it could hardly be said that they were thriving. Among the congregations along the Hudson River and northern New Jersey, Justus Falckner continued to serve, but the demand of this ministry contributed to his early death in 1723. The Dutch Lutherans there were the oldest group, but they were being rapidly supplanted by the Germans from the Palatinate and elsewhere. The pastor who accompanied the Palatine colonists, Joshua Kocherthal, served the scattered German congregations until his death...

  11. Excursus 3 Colonial Lutheran Pastoral Care
    (pp. 85-86)

    The life of a Lutheran pastor in colonial America was difficult. Without much of anything in the way of material support, pastors struggled just to survive, let alone care for their poor and scattered flocks. They had to be prepared to meet many different kinds of situations that most never envisioned in their European ministerial training. Yet, a number of them gave devoted and heroic service in the new American colonies, proclaiming the gospel and guiding their people as best they could. The following entries from the notebooks of colonial Lutheran leader Henry Melchior Muhlenberg illustrate their lives and ministries;...

  12. Chapter 4 Establishment of Eastern Lutheranism, 1748–1781
    (pp. 87-110)

    Just as the Lutheran immigrants were getting settled into colonial America during the middle of the eighteenth century, the whole context itself was changing and evolving. American Lutherans had to do the same. At the beginning of this period, relations between the colonists in North America and their compatriots in Great Britain were relatively good; Americans were happy, even proud, to be counted as English subjects, especially when the alternatives (French to the north and Spanish to the south) were universally viewed as unacceptable, even threatening. American colonists saw Britain as their protector from the Roman Catholic powers (and their...

  13. Excursus 4 Red and Green and Black and Blue: Lutheran Hymnals and Their Impact
    (pp. 111-112)

    One interesting factor of American Lutheranism is the tendency to refer to its various hymnals by the color of their covers. Just gather any group of Lutherans and shortly they will begin talking about, and critiquing, the hymnals that they have used in their life. “Why, I remember the old — (insert the favorite color) hymnal—now, that was a good one. Much better than this new — (insert the least favorite color) hymnal that we have now!” American Lutherans get rather passionate about their hymnals, probably because hymns and singing are such a big part of their worship and devotional lives,...

  14. Chapter 5 Lutherans in a New Nation, 1781–1820
    (pp. 113-138)

    When the American army under George Washington, with the assistance of the French navy, defeated the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781, it changed not only the political structure of the North Atlantic world but also its religious structures. One of the greatest military powers of the day, Britain, had been defeated by an army formed by its own American colonists, motivated by the preservation of the very rights that the British themselves had espoused. Although “New World” colonialism itself would continue in some form for the next two hundred years, this example of colonists seeking their own...

  15. Excursus 5 “Father” Adam Keffer and Early Canadian Lutheranism
    (pp. 139-140)

    Early North American Lutherans often formed congregations on their own initiative, well ahead of the pastors who would come to serve them. These lay Lutherans were devoted to their religious tradition, and often would go to great lengths to engage a pastor to serve them. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this is the example of several small congregations in Ontario, when Adam Keffer, a lay leader of some Lutherans near Toronto, walked twice to Pennsylvania, in 1849 and 1850, in order to find a Lutheran pastor for his congregation. This was a round-trip journey of over five hundred miles,...

  16. Chapter 6 Expansion and Conflict, 1820–1855
    (pp. 141-166)

    By 1820 or so, the initial outlines of American Lutheran structures were becoming evident, as the traditions of colonial Lutheranism were becoming formed into a genuine, English-speaking Lutheranism, adapted to the conditions of a newly independent United States. For the most part, Lutherans in America had cast off their ties to European authorities, adopted and adapted to the pluralism and voluntary religion of their new country, and begun to develop institutions and traditions of their own. But these kinds of adaptive moves are always transitory, as both the situations and the solutions themselves are works in progress and constantly changing....

  17. Excursus 6 “Praise the Lord”: Lutherans and American Revivalism
    (pp. 167-170)

    When thinking about American revivalism, many images come to mind. Tentmeeting revival services on the edge of small southern towns, with sawdust, pounding gospel music, and hell-fire preaching. Perhaps a Billy Graham crusade in a big-city auditorium, with the music of George Beverly Shea, and the final altar-call invitation to the music of “Just As I Am.” Or perhaps Dwight Lyman Moody or Billy Sunday . . . but my guess is that you’d never associate revivalism with American Lutherans. Guess what? Some American Lutherans did practice revivalism, and many congregations still do use elements of the evangelistic approaches honed...

  18. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  19. Chapter 7 Mass Immigration, 1855–1888
    (pp. 171-198)

    At the midpoint of the nineteenth century, the United States stood poised for both tremendous growth and devastating conflict. Geographically, the country had reached roughly the limits of its contiguous continental growth, with only Alaska and Hawaii to be added later. In 1850, there were thirty-one states, mostly east of and along the Mississippi River, with Texas and California, as well. In the next twenty-five years, seven more states would be added to the Union, including Minnesota (1858), Oregon (1859), Kansas (1861), West Virginia (1863), Nevada (1864), Nebraska (1867), and Colorado (1876), for a total of thirty-eight states by the...

  20. Excursus 7 Thea: One Life among Many
    (pp. 199-200)

    What can one person do or accomplish in such a short time that is allotted to humans on earth? Millions of people are born, live, and die; grieved by family and friends, they quickly become only a memory. Thea Rønning was one such person. She lived at the end of the nineteenth century for only thirty-two years, and now, except for the patient research of a historian, would be totally forgotten. But the story of Thea’s brief life needs to be remembered, especially as an example of the thousands of other young American Lutherans who heard the call of God....

  21. Chapter 8 Structuring an American Lutheranism, 1888–1918
    (pp. 201-228)

    In 1900, America was a young country, strong and growing. Having put the trauma of the Civil War behind it, the country was spreading out from coast to coast, and filling out because immigration and population growth were swelling the rapidly growing cities. The United States had become the world’s leading industrial power by the early twentieth century, providing jobs for the immigrants and exporting goods around the world. Growth had not always gone smoothly; the economic depression of the 1890s brought hardship and temporarily curbed both economic growth and the rate of immigration. Despite setbacks, the population of the...

  22. Excursus 8 Colleges and Controversy
    (pp. 229-230)

    There are two things (among others) that Lutherans seem to enjoy: they are very loyal to their church colleges, and they do relish a good controversy. About 120 years ago, Norwegian Lutherans in the Midwest had the chance to enjoy a great dispute between the supporters of Augsburg College and St. Olaf College. It was such a controversy that it ended up giving birth to an entirely new Lutheran denomination, and their relative supporters dividing into two different denominations. First, a bit of background about Lutheran colleges, and then to the squabble between the supporters of Augsburg and St. Olaf....

  23. Chapter 9 Becoming Americans, 1918–1940
    (pp. 231-258)

    The United States became involved in World War I contrary to the wishes of most of its citizens. Once the nation was involved in the war itself, Americans rallied around and supported the troops and the war efforts, but this attitude quickly faded after the war’s end. Most Americans resumed their isolationist attitudes and were strongly against further “foreign interventions,” despite viewing with great alarm the rise of communism in Russia and fascism in Germany and Italy. Americans simply wanted things to return to “normal” and to be able to concentrate on their own lives and business. But the world...

  24. Excursus 9 Lutherans and the Lodge
    (pp. 259-260)

    When most people think about the termlodge, they likely will imagine some rustic main building at a lakeside resort. So, when they hear that American Lutherans have, at times, fought long and hard about the “lodge issue,” they are rightly confused. But in this case, the termlodgehas nothing to do with summer camp, but is, rather, a synonym for social, fraternal organizations such as the Masons and many other similar groups that used to be very popular in America. So why did a large swath of American Lutherans come to the conclusion that being a lodge member...

  25. Chapter 10 Lutherans in War and Peace, 1940–1965
    (pp. 261-288)

    The quarter-century between 1940 and 1965 saw an incredible transformation of the United States, from being an economically devastated and isolationist country during the 1930s, to becoming the world’s economic and military superpower, actively engaged around the globe by the early 1960s. Shocked into action by the debacle at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States marshaled its formidable resources, including its vast human capital, to defeat both Germany and Japan in the Second World War. After this war, Americans turned their energies toward defeating their wartime allies, the communist Russians and Chinese, and began the long “Cold War”...

  26. Excursus 10 American Lutheran Aid to Refugees
    (pp. 289-290)

    Although World War II in Europe ended in the spring of 1945, the people of that continent were living in perilous conditions. The war had been one the first modern examples of “total” warfare, which brought the destruction of combat to all sectors of society, not just the battlefield.

    The lives and homes of many Europeans had been seriously disrupted, millions were without employment, housing, and food, and untold numbers of people had been displaced. Many Germans had abandoned cities destroyed by bombing and fighting, while countless Europeans (mostly from the East) had fled the advance of Russian troops and...

  27. Chapter 11 Turmoil, Change, and Consolidation, 1965–1988
    (pp. 291-320)

    Although there is a danger in describing a nation’s history solely along generational lines, there is some modest justification in doing so in the case of the United States after 1945, because of the demonstrable social and demographic effects of the Baby Boom generation, those born between 1946 and 1964. This large group, seventy-eight million people, went through postwar America like the proverbial “pig in a python,” affecting society in numerous ways. If the 1950s and early 1960s were largely the childhood of the Boomers, then the period after 1965 represented its adolescence and early adulthood, with all the changes...

  28. Excursus 11 Lutheran Cooperation
    (pp. 321-322)

    By the beginning of the twentieth century, American Lutheranism had grown to be the third largest Protestant family in the United States, after the Baptists and Methodists. Fueled by the arrival of millions of Lutheran immigrants from Europe, there were more than two dozen different Lutheran denominations divided by language and theology. Most wanted to become American and take their rightful place in the American religious scene, but their divisions made them less ineffective on the national level.

    During the First World War, these Lutherans sought to demonstrate their patriotism and to support their troops, but this required a degree...

  29. Chapter 12 Uncertain Present, Uneasy Future, 1988–2013
    (pp. 323-352)

    Historians are rightly uneasy when faced with the prospect of describing recent or contemporary events and then analyzing them. There are far too many examples of such descriptions and analyses turning out not only to be wrong, but in some cases spectacularly wrong. Those who do historical analysis customarily wait for an extended period of time before pronouncing judgments on the past, hoping that time will clear away the “fog” of present perceptions, or at least that the principal actors will have died so that no one can contest the analysis. But it is perhaps at least valuable to set...

  30. Excursus 12 Hispanic Lutheranism
    (pp. 353-354)

    It all started with a Swedish American theological student from Rock Island, Illinois, who in 1898 decided that the people of Puerto Rico needed to hear the Lutheran proclamation of the gospel. Never mind that he himself had only been in America for nine years, that he was not ordained, and had no official or financial backing—no, he was going to Puerto Rico. And one other thing: he didn’t know a word of Spanish. But Gustav Swensson traveled to Puerto Rico, learned the language quickly, and began to preach in San Juan in 1899, the beginnings of Spanishand Portuguese-speaking...

  31. Epilogue Hope
    (pp. 355-358)

    The beginning of the final chapter of this history mentioned the dangers of writing contemporary history, dangers that were noted but did not finally deter this attempt to bring the history of Lutherans in America up to the date of this work’s publication. Certainly, the last two chapters of this history must be seen as provisional attempts, and certainly (and devoutly to be wished), future historians will revisit the narratives and conclusions of these chapters and revise them in light of further historical developments and understandings. But having braved the inherent limitations of writing contemporary history, one is emboldened to...

  32. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. 359-362)
  33. Selected Annotated Bibliography
    (pp. 363-376)
  34. Index
    (pp. 377-388)
  35. Back Matter
    (pp. 389-389)