1517 – 2017
Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.
Historians date the start of the Reformation to the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Most of us know that Lutheranism had its start in Germany with Martin Luther. But when and how did it come over to North America? The story begins with the arrival of a pastor with a distinctive name, at least to our ears. On April 17, 1640, Swedish pastor Reorus Torkillus arrived in Fort Christina, near present-day Wilmington, Delaware. The Swedish government was developing a small settlement there and needed someone to attend to the spiritual needs of the Swedish immigrants.If we wish to see a sustained presence of Lutherans, though, we must wait about a hundred years. Germans had begun arriving in America in the 1680s, with most settling in Pennsylvania and upstate New York but others heading for Louisiana and the southeastern colonies. Many were fleeing poor conditions in Germany, and though they brought their beliefs from home, there was, at first, no provision for Lutheran pastors. But in 1741 Lutherans in Pennsylvania issued a call to a thirty-year-old pastor in Saxony, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1742. Muhlenberg turned out to be an excellent choice. Not only was he untiring in his pastoral work, but he laid the foundations for what wold become the Lutheran church in America. He helped more congregations to organize and call pastors. He called into existence the first North American organization of Lutherans, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania. He helped prepare a standard Lutheran liturgy and create a constitution. He even contributed deeply to a hymnal published in 1786.
Stop by our Luther Lounge to read more. Order your St. Paul’s Reformation 500 Polo Shirt today. polo shirt order form
“Flat” Martin Luther has been traveling with members of our congregation – join us Sunday, September 10 during Rally Day when we feature a special presentation.