BLTC Press Titles

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Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Lutheran landmarks and pioneers in America

by William John Finck


However, they are not mentioned by name until 1643, when a Catholic missionary to the Indians, Isaac Jogues by name, who had been rescued from his hostile enemies by the Dutch and befriended by the Reformed ministers of New Amsterdam, refers to them in his records. He says, "No religion is publicly exercised but the Calvinist, and orders are to admit none but Calvinists, but this is not observed, for there are besides Calvinists in the colony Catholics, English Puritans, Lutherans, Anabaptists, here called Mennonites, and others." As the Lutherans increased in numbers a desire arose among them to have a pastor and services of their own, but in this they were always opposed by the Reformed ministers and also by the directors, Kieft and Stuyvesant. For twenty years more they were denied religious freedom, compelled to accept the ministrations of the Reformed pastors, and forbidden to meet for services of their own in "houses, barns, ships or yachts, in the woods or fields." They were fined and even imprisoned, and their first pastor, John Ernest Goetwater, was not allowed to minister to his people in private or public, and was ordered to be returned in the same vessel in which he had come. Sickness prevented the execution of their orders and he remained in the colony for at least a year. There is some evidence for asserting that he remained two years, from 1657 to 1659. He was a good and earnest man, and came in the spirit of His name, to give the "good water" of eternal life to his fellow believers. After his return to Holland we hear nothing more of this noble hero.

We associate religious oppression with the old world. The Waldensians, Huguenots, Salzburgers, Palatinates, and Armenians are all in the old world. Yet America, the cradle of liberty, was not wholly without it in its earlier years, and our own people, who never molested anyone in their religious worship or ever interfered with the civil government, did not escape the hand of the oppressor in America, and Holland, that furnished the first two martyrs of the Reformation, must itself go down in history as the one whose citizens opposed and oppressed the Lutherans in the New World. But inasmuch as this is now deeply regretted on all sides, it is not necessary that these pages be filled with words breathing the spirit of animosity. Let us pass it over with two reflections. Through much heartache and tribulation in its infancy, Lutheranism in Greater New York has grown to grand and gigantic proportions in the present century, and furthered by God's grace and favor and the consecrated wealth and unchanging earnestness of His noblemen, it promises still more for the future. The Lutherans who were persecuted for conscience' sake and on account of their "hard Lutheran pate" in those early years, bore their sufferings with a warm, loving, Christian heart and an unflinching, self-sacrificing steadfastness that should win our appreciation and strengthen us hi our loyalty to her of whom each reader can say:

"My Church! My Church! My dear old Church!
My fathers' and my own!"

When the English conquered the Dutch possessions in the New World in 1664, everything was changed. New Amsterdam became New York; Fort Orange was called Albany; freedom of worship was granted the Lutherans and all others in the colony. Efforts were at once resumed to secure a minister from the mother country. The Lutheran people had formed a congregation, called Trinity, as early as 1649, if not earlier, and now united with the Ebenezer Lutheran Church of Albany in appealing to the home Church at Amsterdam for a Lutheran pastor. For almost five years the correspondence continued without results, but early in 1669 Pastor Jacob Fabritius arrived. He was a German, but sufficiently versed in the use of the Dutch language to satisfy his hearers. In his time the first Lutheran church was built. It stood outside of the walls of the town. A few years later this frame structure was torn down upon the demand of the civil authorities, as they claimed that the building interfered with the proper defence of the town. Indemnity was paid the congregation and a lot given them within the walls on Broadway. The work of Fabritius was not crowned with success, as his life and practice did not harmonize with his calling and preaching, and he was soon compelled to give up his field on account of his bad conduct. In later years he redeemed himself by his faithful services on the Delaware. Before leaving, he installed the new pastor that had come from Holland, Bernard Anton Arens. He proved to be a genial, lovable, and faithful pastor, who served the people for twenty-five years or more, but like many of the prophets of old left no records of himself or his work. It is certain that he continued his services until his death, which must have occurred about 1695.

The Dutch language continued to be used in the services until 1771, but with the arrival of the Germans, beginning with New Year's day, 1709, Dutch and German were both used in Trinity Church, causing considerable friction from time to time. English was also employed occasionally, and its use became more and more imperative. The Patriarch Muhlenberg served the congregation in 1751 and 1752, and effectively preached in all three tongues. After 1771, German became the prevailing language, but with the arrival of Dr. Kunze, in 1784, English services were permanently introduced. The history of the language question in New York is full of the spice of variety, the myrrh of bitterness, the fire of contention, and the blood of litigation.

The frame church erected on Broadway by the Trinity congregation about 1674 was repaired during the pastorate of Justus Falckner, and replaced by a large stone building in 1729 by the efforts of his brother, Daniel Falckner. Pastor Berkenmeyer assisted at the dedication. It is in this church that the patriarch preached in 1751. We reprint a picture of it from Dr. Schmauk's History with appreciative acknowledgments.

The history of the growth of the Lutheran Church in New York and of the labors and achievements of her leaders is a long one and not without its interesting features. Dr. John Nicum has told the story in a scholarly way in his history of the New York Ministerium, and Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Wolf in their readable histories of the Lutheran Church in America. To these works and others within his reach my interested reader must turn if

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