Monday, January 02, 2006

Johann Karl Wilhelm Who?

That was my thought upon seeing today's commemoration on the calendar. So I did a little checking.

Turns out that Johann Karl Wilhelm Loehe is a Renewer of the Church with a somewhat local connection to me. Loehe, a Pietist pastor from Franconia, responded to a call for missionaries to the American wilderness by planning a mission village that would minister to the Native Americans. With his guidance, in 1845 a small group of missionaries and a mission pastor left Bremen, endured a difficult sea voyage to the United States and eventually wound up in the forests of Michigan, near Saginaw. The group founded a village named Frankenmuth -- "courage of the Franks" -- and established St. Lorenz Church, which like Frankenmuth is still alive and thriving. The missionaries did not have a great deal of long-term success converting the Native Americans, but they did help provide a comforting bit of home to many a new immigrant from Germany looking for a place to settle, and their church also became one of the founding congregations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. So even though Loehe never left Germany, his vision of the Church as an active, in-breaking presence in new places was a significant influence on Lutheranism in the New World.

You can read all about Loehe and the beginnings of St. Lorenz here .

A couple of my college friends were Frankenmuth residents who worshipped at St. Lorenz. And I can't help but think that the church infrastructure that had its start in Frankenmuth had something to do with the planting of my young-childhood church, the long-closed Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, in a corner of Outer Podunk once upon a time.

7 comments:

RuthRE said...

Yay, guy influencing american Lutheranism, yay.

LutherHen said...

Okay LC-- now I'm homesick. I grew up in Saginaw and had many friends from Frankenmuth. I have fond memories of St. Lorenz as the starting point of the Frankenmuth Parade in which I participated for many summers. One of these days I'm sure that I will realize that I've known the secret location of Outer Podunk all along! BTW-- I thought you'd get a kick out of knowing that here in ancestor worshipping Okinawa, there lives a Nativity Scene that is a testament to the clearance bin at Bronner's-- dating back to the days before it was a true Christmas Wonderland.

LutheranChik said...

I had a college friend who worked at Bronner's in the summers and on Christmas break. He liked and admired Wally Bronner, the avuncular patriarch of the store, but grew to hate all the Christmas bling.;-) (Sort of like another friend who worked at the Sears candy counter, who became one of the few people I know who hate candy.)

LutheranChik said...

Ruth: I can't help but wish there were more gals on the calendar. Surely the great minds on Higgins Road can find some more exemplary Christian women of history to commemorate.

Tom in Ontario said...

I've made a couple of pilgrimages to Frankenmuth. I bought an African made nativity at Bronner's for my mom. She has it set up over the TV this year. I worshiped at St. Lorenz on one of my trips, even had Holy Communion even though I'm not LCMS (they didn't ask, I didn't tell).

Tom in Ontario said...

Oh, and there's a woman's commemoration coming up January 21.

Agnes, martyr (c.291-c. 304)

Agnes was a girl of about thirteen living in Rome who had chosen a life of service to Christ as a virgin, despite the Roman emperor Diocletian's ruling that had outlawed all Christian activity. The details of her martyrdom are not clear, but she gave witness to her faith and was put to death as a result, most likely by the sword. Since her death, the church has honored her as one of the chief martyrs of her time.

Cathy said...

LC,
You have been tagged:

Rules: “The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits of yourself,” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You are tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.”