October 7, Henry Melchior Mulhenberg

Today the Lutheran church commemorates Henry Melchior Mulhenberg, 1711-1787, one of the most important figures in the establishment of a new church organization and church order in North America. Protestant church life in the Colonies was crazy, with free-lance, self-ordained itinerant ministers roaming around, baptizing and preaching. For nearly half a century Mulhenberg worked to mediate disputes in congregations and to establish systems of accountability and procedures that would bring order and stability to the spiritual lives of the people. In 1748 he organized the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, a coalition of Lutheran congregations centered in Philadelphia. To these congregations he presented a simple order of worship for common use.

The general picture, developed by Mulhenberg, of educated pastors trained according to uniform standards; of congregations committed to “calling” these pastors to oversee their activities and to preach and teach as members of the community, not as itinerants; and of the congregations united in regional groups in conversation with one another, remains more-or-less the shape of the Lutheran church in America to this day.

Mulhenberg advocated “active, practical Christianity” and his motto Ecclesia plantanda, “the church must be planted” meant that the church should be stable and rooted in communities.

Mulhenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from which several of our talented and faithful Peace members graduated, bears the name of the patriarch of American Lutheranism.

About Peace Lutheran Church Wayland Massachusetts

www.peacewayland.org
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