Full Text for Church History 3 - Volume 44 - The Founding of the LCMS (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CH3-044 PROFESSOR LAWRENCE RAST PROFESSOR WILL SCHUMACHER Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***** >> PAUL: David mentioned earlier that he already knows a little bit about the beginnings of the LCMS here. But I have to admit, I know very little other than that the founders were German. When did they arrive in America, and what can you tell me about them? >> DR. LAWRENCE RAST: Paul, we've already heard something about the Germans coming to the American colonies and later on to the United States, and what we find is several waves of significant emigration over the course of the 1700's and then especially into the 1800's. In the 1700's, we already noticed that beginning about the year 1690 or even as late as 1700, significant numbers of Germans began to pour in, especially into the colonies that we referred to as Middle Colonies, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the like. There were also significant numbers of Lutherans who settled in Maryland, particularly in the western part of the state, though Baltimore was also included. And consistently through the 1700's, Germans came to the New World. However, with the American Revolution, there was a brief lull in that immigration, not that it stopped, but the sheer numbers were not what they were previously. And in the period between 1790 and about 1830, there was lesser immigration than we had seen previously. But with the year 1830, all of that began to change and change in powerful ways. It was almost like the dam had been opened and the waters burst through as numbers of Germans poured into the United States seeking a new life for themselves. And as they came into America, they helped change the shape of American culture, generally speaking, and especially they changed the culture of American Lutheranism in a powerful and profound way. What we find, however, is that these Germans tend to go to particular areas of the United States. So there have been changes in the pattern in transition to the West; whereas earlier in the 19th century, Americans and immigrants moved to the south and the west, Kentucky, Tennessee. Now, in the second third of the 19th century, they begin to move to the north and to the west. Part of the reason for this is improved transportation routes through Pennsylvania and especially improved transportation through the Erie Canal and upstate New York. Just before the sheer numbers of Germans began into pour into the U.S., the Erie Canal opened in 1825. It ran from Albany, New York to Buffalo and opened up New York as the primary point of departure for Americans moving to the west. So, for example, a typical immigrant would come in through New York City, perhaps Philadelphia as well, but then moved up through the Hudson River Valley, to Albany, catch the Erie Canal, head west through New York State, disembark from the canal at Buffalo, and then catch perhaps a lake schooner on Lake Erie out into Ohio, Indiana, later on, a little bit later on, Michigan, and then take the land routes to the west. The Erie Canal itself was key in this respect. Other canals were developed as well to help with the transportation of goods and services to the east from the west, but also then, in turn, to turn things around and take settlers from the East to the West. The result: significant populations of Germans in Ohio and Indiana and Illinois and Missouri, later on, into Michigan, into Wisconsin, and finally up into Minnesota. So that pattern of settlement to the North and the West was, in many ways, determined by the transportation routes that were available. And the German immigrants who came in took full advantage of these routes. Why did they come? Well, there are a number of reasons, and I think you have to take them as a whole. There isn't one single reason that can embrace all of the reasons why German immigrants came to the United States. Perhaps the most important reason was, of course, economic opportunity. In Germany in the 19th century, opportunities were limited for a German family to break out of their social status. The promise of America was unbounded opportunity, and many Germans found that tremendously attractive. There was also the greater political freedom that the United States offered, and many Germans sought that out as well. And finally, there was, of course, religious freedom. And this was very attractive to Germans on a large scale. Some German communities came en masse, entire communities from Germany disembarking on boats and coming to the United States. Many others came individually seeking out opportunities as they made their way into the New World. In the case of the founders of the Missouri Synod, we see all of those representations fulfilled. That is to say, we find people seeking economic opportunity. We see people who are seeking out political opportunity and certainly, we hear a very strong emphasis upon religious freedom as well. One thing I think it's important that we remember about the formation of the Missouri Synod was that while these were all Germans, no question about that, they were from different parts of Germany, and it was no small feat to bring together a diverse series of groups into one coherent synod. You had Franconians. You had Saxons. You had Germans from other parts of Germany. And I like to use the example of trying to get this point across of what it's like for Americans from various parts of the United States to be in other parts of the country. I'm a Chicagoan. I was a pastor, however, in Tennessee. There were always a little bit of cultural differences, shall we say, between the folks in Tennessee and their Yankee pastor. That certainly didn't divide us as a people, but it did provide for some interesting opportunities for conversation, and it always required a little bit of translation, shall we say, as we interacted. The same thing was true of these Germans, and perhaps even more intensely so because these Germans were coming from a Germany that was not politically united. There were many independent political units in Germany at this time, independent of one another both in terms of their life as nation, their life as political entity, and certainly also their activities as church. They were united by their Lutheranism. They were united by their Germanness. Nevertheless, it did take some negotiation, some getting to know one another, and some simple relationship building. And that took some time. So in other words, what we today celebrate as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod being formed on April 26th, 1847, did take some work in putting together. These folks came from different geographies. They settled in different geographic areas in America. These folks came from different backgrounds, culturally speaking, in Germany, and they retained of those cultural characteristics here in the United States. So there was some work to do. And beyond that, they had to acclimate themselves and adjust to the American setting which was one of the larger things that they struggled with as the people of God coming to a new situation. So lots of things go into this. Lots of things go into the formation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. But the story is one of God's unending grace as He brings together unity out of a disparate series of independent groups, all of whom, however, ultimately share the same mission. ***** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *****