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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Jeremy_Loesch on November 26, 2020, 11:11:50 AM

Title: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on November 26, 2020, 11:11:50 AM
Hello friends. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

A church member has asked about the ethnic origins of Lutherans in America. I believe I have a cursory understanding of it. But I have some blank spaces to fill in. Thought I would ask you. And this is all "generally" or "mostly".

LCA - Swedish
ALC - Norwegian
ELS - "Little Norwegians"
LCMS - German
Suomi- Finnish

What about the ULCA? Augustana? Buffalo Synod? Others

Just a curiosity. Thanks for any answers or corrections.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Charles Austin on November 26, 2020, 11:16:12 AM
The LCA included Augustana (Swedish origen), Danes, Finns (Suomi Synod) and ULCA (German and others). Check the book by E. Clifford Nelson for details.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on November 26, 2020, 11:22:22 AM
The LCA included Augustana (Swedish origen), Danes, Finns (Suomi Synod) and ULCA (German and others). Check the book by E. Clifford Nelson for details.

The ULCA's oldest antecedant was the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Surrounding States established in the 18th century by Halle missionary Henry Mechior Muhlenberg.   

There are other ethnicities among the branch roots but the taproot is German to the core!
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Richard Johnson on November 26, 2020, 11:57:00 AM


LCA - Old German (Muhlenberg strain), Swedish, Danes (Happy Danes), Finns
ALC - German (old ALC, which was formerly Ohio, Buffalo, Iowa synods), Norwegian, Danes (Sober Danes)
ELS - "Little Norwegians"
LCMS - German
Suomi- Finnish (part of LCA)

If I am recalling correctly, in both the LCA and the ALC, the German component was actually larger than the Swedish and Norwegian components respectively.

Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on November 26, 2020, 12:08:18 PM
If I am recalling correctly, in both the LCA and the ALC, the German component was actually larger than the Swedish and Norwegian components respectively.

The German component of the LCA endured into the late 19th/early 20th centuries and the "language wars" were an unfortunate part of that history.

There are numerous congregations named "First English" as part of that legacy.  Chambersburg PA and Columbia PA (now defunct) are the first ones which come to mind.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2020, 12:14:51 PM
The attached chart of mergers (and non-mergers) mostly indicates national origins of the different Lutheran bodies.


Most of those that do not have a European country in their name were German based. Many were named by geography: Missouri Synod, Iowa Synod, Ohio Synod, etc. Germany did not have a state church like Scandinavian Countries, but each prince decided whether his territory would be Roman Catholic or Lutheran, and later, Reformed entered the mix.


One exception is Augustana, which was Swedish.


Two additions: LCMC split from ELCA in 2001. NALC split from ELCA in 2010.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Michael Slusser on November 26, 2020, 12:21:14 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2020, 12:26:43 PM
If I am recalling correctly, in both the LCA and the ALC, the German component was actually larger than the Swedish and Norwegian components respectively.

The German component of the LCA endured into the late 19th/early 20th centuries and the "language wars" were an unfortunate part of that history.

There are numerous congregations named "First English" as part of that legacy.  Chambersburg PA and Columbia PA (now defunct) are the first ones which come to mind.


There were a number of communities where congregations split over the language issue. Someone counted: there are 19 steps between two large Lutheran congregations in Fremont, OH. (When my intern supervisor was called there in 1976 both had over 2000 members.) Windsor, CO had a split. In 1976, one still had German services. (I preached there, in English, as a student at Wartburg's Denver House of Studies, while the pastor, a friend, was on vacation.) A couple years earlier when they were searching for a new pastor, there was only one senior in the three ALC seminaries who had majored in German, who had the language skills to serve that congregation in German. That congregation has since closed up.


Going the other direction, the congregation I last served, explored starting a Spanish-language service. 65% of our community is Hispanic. At the time, we were renting space to two Spanish-language congregations. None of the seven Lutheran congregations (from four different church bodies) offers Spanish. We tend to serve the snow-bird population that fills our congregations each winter. (The other ELCA congregations, out where there are many, many RV and trailer parks, goes from about 60-70 worshipers in one service during the summer to over 1000 at five services in the winter. Our numbers nearly tripled during the Winter without as many temporary residential areas.)
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: jebutler on November 26, 2020, 12:30:00 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is the Slovak district in the LCMS and a Finnish group merged into the LCMS in the 1950s as well.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: John_Hannah on November 26, 2020, 12:33:14 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is. And there is a Slovak District in the LCMS as well. A bit of humor there. The District is officially the SELC. Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church! I suppose it was "just in case the union did not work out."   ;D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 26, 2020, 12:34:18 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael


You are not mistaken. It is our one non-geographical synod.


https://slovakzionsynod.org/ (https://slovakzionsynod.org/)


The LCMS has two non-geographical districts: The English District and what had been the Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC) but now seems to be the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (SELC).


http://selc.lcms.org/ (http://selc.lcms.org/)
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: RDPreus on November 26, 2020, 12:38:22 PM
The ELS used to be known as the little Norwegian Synod.  It is the ~synod~ that is little; not the Norwegians.  :D
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Birkholz on November 26, 2020, 01:15:43 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is. And there is a Slovak District in the LCMS as well. A bit of humor there. The District is officially the SELC. Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church! I suppose it was "just in case the union did not work out."   ;D

Peace, JOHN

Actually, the SELC changed its name in 1959 to the "Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches."  The acronym remained the same.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: John_Hannah on November 26, 2020, 01:17:00 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is. And there is a Slovak District in the LCMS as well. A bit of humor there. The District is officially the SELC. Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church! I suppose it was "just in case the union did not work out."   ;D

Peace, JOHN

Actually, the SELC changed its name in 1959 to the "Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches."  The acronym remained the same.

Got it. Thanks.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: J.L. Precup on November 26, 2020, 01:39:12 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is the Slovak district in the LCMS and a Finnish group merged into the LCMS in the 1950s as well.

The NELC (Finnish) merged with the LCMS in 1964.  Since their pastors were being trained at Springfield Seminary, it was JAO Preus who welcomed them.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on November 26, 2020, 01:50:36 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is the Slovak district in the LCMS and a Finnish group merged into the LCMS in the 1950s as well.

The NELC (Finnish) merged with the LCMS in 1964.  Since their pastors were being trained at Springfield Seminary, it was JAO Preus who welcomed them.

What did NELC stand for?

Jeremy
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: jebutler on November 26, 2020, 02:14:59 PM
Professor Edmund Smits at Luther Seminary belonged to a Latvian congregation in Minneapolis.

There is a Slovak Synod in the ELCA, if I am not mistaken.

Peace,
Michael

There is the Slovak district in the LCMS and a Finnish group merged into the LCMS in the 1950s as well.

The NELC (Finnish) merged with the LCMS in 1964.  Since their pastors were being trained at Springfield Seminary, it was JAO Preus who welcomed them.

What did NELC stand for?

Jeremy

National Evangelical Lutheran Church

We have several of those congregations in New England.

One of the reasons the SELC was worried about their churches merging into geographical districts is because the NELC churches lost their identity in their merger.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Terry W Culler on November 26, 2020, 02:22:26 PM
The AFLC came into being in 1962 when most of the Lutheran Free Church merged into The American Lutheran Church.  From what I've heard the almost 10 year process was filled with nasty and down right mean actions--probably by both sides but I've only heard one side of it.  The LFC began in 1897 when the new Norwegian Synod decided to keep Augsburg Seminary as the designated seminary but St. Olaf as the church undergraduate school. This led to the formation of the Friends of Augsburg Seminary which became the LFC.  The process of formation at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th seems to have kept the entire Lutheran Church in this country in constant turmoil. 
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: mj4 on November 26, 2020, 03:51:14 PM
Germany did not have a state church like Scandinavian Countries, but each prince decided whether his territory would be Roman Catholic or Lutheran, and later, Reformed entered the mix.

Not all Lutherans came from Lutheran lands. The Salzburgers, for example, were expelled from the Catholic Archbishopric of Salzburg, Austria, and settled in Georgia and South Carolina. I guess you could put them in the Old German camp though.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Paul O Malley on November 27, 2020, 07:26:54 PM
At least until late in the last century some took a finer point on ethnic origin in Fort Wayne. Some of the members of one of the downtown Lutheran congregations we visited on our arrival made it clear they were not merely German but "Swabian". That distinction had led them in the late 19th century to move from Missouri to the old Ohio Synod. There they could find pastors who spoke the correct dialect.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Julio on November 28, 2020, 02:53:48 AM
 (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheran_Church–Missouri_Synod)A review of the history of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod lists the following church bodies that were ‘absorbed’ over time ...

1880 - Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Illinois and other States (http:// https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelical_Lutheran_Synod_of_Illinois) (German)

1886 - Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Synod of Pennsylvania and other States (German)

1911 - English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and other States (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_District_of_the_Lutheran_Church–Missouri_Synod)

1961 - Synodical Conference Negro Mission (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelical_Lutheran_Synodical_Conference_of_North_America#African-American_mission_work)

1964 - National Evangelical Lutheran Church (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Evangelical_Lutheran_Church) (Finnish American)

1971 - Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Evangelical_Lutheran_Churches) (Slovak Synod)

Unmentioned thus far are our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Evangelical_Lutheran_Synod) brethren ... of German background who are in fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelical_Lutheran_Synod) who were/are of Norwegian ancestry.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Charles Austin on November 28, 2020, 05:19:46 AM
And we see evidence of the different style and intent of those who began the Lutheran presence on this continent. Muhlenberg’s intent in founding the Ministerium of Pennsylvania was to create an “American” church body. A century later, the immigration of Scandinavians brought the “homeland” Church, but quickly and intentionally “Americanized”.
In my ULCA experience, including national Luther League activity, we rarely spoke of ethnic origins except in a historic way. We were the United Lutheran Church in America and that last word was important. Sometimes, I think, those outside Lutheranism unfortunately stereotyped Lutherans as German.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Julio on November 28, 2020, 09:08:02 AM
It’s interesting that the forefathers of our various Lutheran traditions initially were very careful not to utilize the word “church” to describe the temporal federation of congregations that were being created.

In the case of what now is the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod our founding fathers named this temporal organization “German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (German: Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und andern Staaten)” properly recognizing and respectfully reserving the term ‘Church’ to refer to the una sancta.

The founding fathers of other Lutheran traditions utilized ‘Ministerium’ respectfully recognizing that these temporal organizations were only a part of the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.

As time passed ... and perhaps because the finer nuances of language were lost by the descendants of our respective synods or ministeriums, it became acceptable to refer to these temporal organizations as ‘Church’.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on November 28, 2020, 02:19:35 PM
It’s interesting that the forefathers of our various Lutheran traditions initially were very careful not to utilize the word “church” to describe the temporal federation of congregations that were being created.

In the case of what now is the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod our founding fathers named this temporal organization “German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (German: Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und andern Staaten)” properly recognizing and respectfully reserving the term ‘Church’ to refer to the una sancta.

The founding fathers of other Lutheran traditions utilized ‘Ministerium’ respectfully recognizing that these temporal organizations were only a part of the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.


As I recall, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania (never referred to as MoP,) was the coming together of clergy. Congregations were not part of the Ministerium.


"Church" was used in some of the early Lutheran denominations.

1846 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Eielsen Synod)
1853 Synod for the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
1872 Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
1884 Danish Lutheran Church Association
1890 United Norwegian Lutheran Church in America
1890 1890 Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Suomi Synod)
1897 Lutheran Free Church
1900 Lutheran Church of the Brethren


When "church" is used in the New Testament, it is a translation of ἐκκλεσία (literally, the called out ones). This word refers to the gathering or assembly of people. It is never used of a building. (The ELCA now uses "assembly" for its larger gatherings: Synod Assembly, Churchwide Assembly.) In civil Greek usage, the people who didn't gather when called together by the town crier were not part of the ἐκκλεσία. "Congregation," (based on Latin,) is close to the Greek ἐκκλεσία. It refers to those who gather together (like sheep). Those who haven't congregated are not part of the congregation.


The English word "church," comes through the German, Kirche, which came from the Greek adjective, κυριακός = "the Lord's." More specifically, according to my English Dictionary, it comes from the phrase: κυριακὸν δῶμα = "the Lord's house." (So it did refer to a building!) We could say, (forgetting the house part,) that the church are those who "are the Lord's."
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: peter_speckhard on November 28, 2020, 02:26:37 PM
My wife’s grandfather was Stephen Tuhy, who founded St. Luke’s in Oviedo, Fl. He was from a line of Stephen/Stefan Tuhys who were Lutheran clergy, including president of the Slovak Lutheran church in the early 20th century.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Charles Austin on November 28, 2020, 02:31:56 PM
Did we forget the Latvians? One of my seminary classmates was the son of a Latvian Pastor, and my seminary classmate  later became Bishop of the Latvian church. I think they are independent.
Title: Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
Post by: Dan Fienen on November 28, 2020, 03:09:44 PM
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is an independent Lutheran Church body in Latvia and is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, World Council of Churches, and the Conference of European Churches. It also holds full observer status in the Porvoo Communion. It is in full fellowship with the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.


Another Latvian Lutheran church body is the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad and is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and is part of the Porvoo Communion. It has churches in Latvia (where it is separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia), Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.