Page images

The two branches of Latter-Day Saints aggregate 856 organizations, 388 church edifices, with a seating capacity of 122,892, and a value of $1,05 1,791, and 166,125 communicants. Of the latter 118,201 are in Utah, and the next largest number, 14,972, in Idaho.




THE earliest Lutherans in America came from Holland to Manhattan Island in 1623 with the first Dutch colony. For some years they had great difficulty in establishing worship of their own, the Dutch authorities, ecclesiastical and civil, having received instructions “to encourage no other doctrine in the New Netherlands than the true Reformed” and “to allure the Lutherans to the Dutch churches and matriculate them in the Public Reformed religion.” A Lutheran pastor, the Rev. John Ernest Goetwater, was sent to this country in 1657 by the Lutheran Consistory of Amsterdam to minister to two Lutheran congregations, one at New York, the other at Albany. He was not allowed, however, to enter upon his ministrations, but was sent back to Holland by representatives of the Reformed faith. When the English took possession of New York the Lutherans were allowed full liberty of worship.

The Lutheran faith was also established on the banks of the Delaware by a Swedish colony, who erected the first Lutheran church in America near Lewes in 1638. Swedish immigration was soon checked, and the large Lutheran influx from Germany did not begin until early in the eighteenth century, the first German congregation of Lutherans having been organized at about that time in Montgomery County, Pa., with the Rev. Justus Falckner, who was ordained in this country by the Swedes, as its first pastor. In 1710 a large number of exiled Palatines settled in New York and Pennsylvania, and in 1734 a colony of Salzburgers planted the Lutheran faith in Georgia.

While immigration brought many Lutherans to this country, they were in a scattered and unorganized condition until the arrival of the Rev. Henry M. Muhlenburg, who drew them closer together, formed them into congregations, and inspired them with new life. In 1748 he, with six other ministers and lay delegates from congregations, organized the first Lutheran synod in this country, the Synod or Ministerium of Pennsylvania. In 1786 the second synod, the Ministerium of New York, was formed.

The recent extraordinary growth of the Lutheran communion in this country is due in part to immigration from Lutheran countries. A large proportion of Lutherans are either German immigrants or the offspring of German immigrants. There are also large bodies of Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish Lutherans, with a number from Finland and other European countries.

The system of faith held by all Lutherans is set forth in the Augsburg Confession and in a number of other symbols, known as Luther's Catechisms, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, and the Formula of Concord. The cardinal doctrine of the system is that of justification by faith alone. The ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper are held by Lutherans to be not mere signs or memorials, but channels of grace. Their view of the Lord's Supper is peculiar. They believe that "in the Holy Supper there are present with the elements and are received sacramentally and supernaturally the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ," but reject both transubstantiation as held by the Roman Catholic Church, and consubstantiation as attributed by some writers to the Lutheran Church. They observe the various festivals of the Christian year, and have a liturgical form of worship.

In polity, while the sovereignty of the individual congregation, which includes the office of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments, is recognized, in the synodical system as it prevails a measure of judicial and executive authority is conferred upon the individual synods by the individual congregations. General bodies, such as the General Synod, General Council, etc., are formed by the union of a number of synods and have chiefly advisory powers. Synods may withdraw from the General Synod, General Council, and other general bodies, and may afterward rejoin the body they withdrew from or join another body, or take an independent position.

Arranging the various synods as nearly as possible according to speech, we find that seven languages are represented, if the Norwegian be considered as different from the Danish. The United Synod of the South is wholly, and the General Synod mostly, English. The General Council, the Synodical Conference, and the independent synods have but a small percentage of English organizations. The following is a summary, omitting the independent congregations, which cannot well be classified:

[blocks in formation]

This is the oldest general body of Lutherans. It was organized in 1820 by representatives of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, the oldest synod; the Ministerium of New York, the next oldest; the Synod of North Carolina, the third oldest; and the Synod of Maryland and Virginia. The General Synod was the only general body until the Civil War cut off its Southern synods and led to the organization of the General Synod, South, now known as the United Synod in the South. It never had, however, the adherence of all the synods. One withdrew and afterward joined again; some held aloof from it for many years, so that from the first there has scarcely been a period in which there have not been synods in an independent attitude.

The chief cause of the changes which synods have made in their attachments to the general bodies, and also of the organization of the General Council and Synodical Conference, has been differences concerning the acceptance and interpretation of the doctrinal symbols. There have been

« PreviousContinue »