This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7 -- Feast of Saint Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

Patriarch of American Lutheranism

Again I am reaching out to the Lutheran list of saints, not that there are not many worthies among the Catholics and Orthodox, but I just think it's good to branch out. 

I suspect this saint's name was really Heinrich, since he was born in Einbeck, Hanover (which became Germany about a century after his death).  He didn't move to English North America until he was thirty-one years old, and even then he mostly hung out with Germans.  I imagine he was only Henry when dealing with colonial governments or preaching to the British. 

Go Mules!
The Germans brought their Lutheranism to the Pennsylvania, mostly, but to other colonies as well.  Yet their leaders -- laypeople, mostly -- felt increasingly uncomfortable without formal clergy to lean on.  Reverend Muhlenberg recognized their need (and I suppose his opportunity) and arrived in Pennsylvania in 1742.  He rapidly organized a ministerium, the first permanent Lutheran synod in America.  He also worked to develop a uniform liturgy, a common hymnal, and an ecclesiastical constitution. 

Although he had a base of three congregations, he preached from New York to Georgia.  He addressed German, Dutch, and British audiences, each in their own language.  In his forty-five year career, he might rightly be said to have organized the Lutheran Church in the USA. 

In 1867, the Allentown (Pennsylvania) Seminary, which evolved into a military institute and then a general college, was renamed in honor of Henry M. Muhlenberg.  The College is still affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America today.  Go Mules!

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