The Executive Council of the UCC recommends that local churches, associations and conferences "initiate programs of study and dialog with regard to the implications (meanings) of human sexuality, in all its mystery, at its broadest and deepest levels in the theological context." (EC, October 1973, Cited in "Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study," 1977)
The Tenth General Synod asks the Executive Council "to commission a study concerning the dynamics of human sexuality...to be presented to the Eleventh General Synod." (75-GS-65, Minutes, 1975, p.68.)
The eleventh General Synod receives the report, "Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study"; commends it to congregations, associations, conferences and instrumentalities for study and response; and asks the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries "to continue to provide leadership in developing resources concerning human sexuality for appropriate use by various age groups in local churches and to provide consultative services and training for conferences, associations and congregations who wish to sponsor programs concerned with human sexuality and family life." A minority report is also issued. (77-GS-64. Minutes, 1977, pp. 65-66. Also: pp. 75-76.)
Human Sexuality: A Preliminary Study—United Church of Christ is published by the UCBHM. (New York: United Church Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8209- 0341-6.)
The Twelfth General Synod forms a "National Task Force" on human sexuality to "encourage and facilitate the continuing study of human sexuality by all congregations, associations, conferences and other groups within the church," to "identify, test, and publicize various models of study" and to report to the Synod in four years. (79-GS-40. Minutes, 1979, p.60.)
The Thirteenth General Synod names "Family Life" one of four "priorities" in the UCC and designates UCBHM as coordinator of this work in the national setting.
The Fourteenth General Synod adopts the report of the National Task Force and asks UCBHM to "develop resources on human sexuality for use in local churches" and to "collect and continue to update information about the nature of human sexuality, including variations in sexual orientation and behavior, seeking to provide material appropriate for use with all age groups and making this information available for study by churches." (83-GS-34. Minutes, 1983, 47.)
At its January meeting, the Executive Committee of the UCBHM Board of Directors commits the UCBHM to a three-year initiative to fulfill the request of the Fourteenth General Synod.
A UCBHM survey, "Ask the Churches About Faith and Sexuality," receives responses from some 3,000 members of 75 local churches within 11 U.S. areas, chosen in cooperation with UCC conferences. Respondents answer questions about their sexuality-related needs, past and present; availability and adequacy of sources of help in meeting these needs; their beliefs concerning the role of the church; specific recommendations regarding helpful programs and resources; and desired kinds of assistance. Eighty-three percent say they want help from their church in addressing human-sexuality questions and concerns.
The Fifteenth General Synod of the UCC called upon United Church of Christ congregations to declare themselves open and affirming by encouraging congregations to adopt a policy of non-discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and to adopt a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation.
UCBHM develops and field-tests a new human-sexuality learning program for adults, Created in God's Image—A Human Sexuality Program for Ministry and Mission.
Sensing common ground and overlapping needs for resources on human sexuality, the UCBHM and the Unitarian Universalist Association convene a Sexuality Education Task Force "to create a vision for a positive and comprehensive life-span sexuality education program." Throughout its work, the Sexuality Education Task Force was guided by these words from its philosophy statement: "We come together as representatives of two denominations to create a vision for a positive and comprehensive life-span sexuality education program... a safe environment within which people can come to understand and respond to the challenges facing them as sexual beings."
At the Eighteenth General Synod, a Resolution is voted, affirming the ministries of gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians. An amendment, offered from the floor by a conference minister and approved, "urgently calls upon the local churches, associations and conferences to engage in a disciplined dialog" on the biblical and theological foundations for being open-and-affirming, and requests that instrumentalities "provide study resources for the United Church of Christ." (91-GS-66, Minutes, p. 71.)
Staff reports of UCBHM's Divisional Committees for the Division of the American Missionary Association and Division of Education and Publication begin to include updates about action concerning the work of the ecumenical Sexuality Education Task Force.
After drafting, field-testing and revision, Created in God's Image—A Human Sexuality Program for Ministry and Mission is published and in consultation with conferences, UCBHM continues to offer regional and conference trainings for the teaching of this resource. Copies of the resource are mailed to all UCC resource centers. The program, for adults, is led by trained facilitators.
The original UCBHM-UUA Sexuality Education Task Force completes its work and issues its findings. It recommends that the two denominations jointly publish a life-span learning program in human sexuality for use in local churches. In the UCC, the recommendations are shared with the Executive Vice President, General Secretaries, and Boards of Directors of the American Missionary Association and the Division of Education and Publication. Reports of findings, and/or announcements about a new sexuality education program in development, are shared at Created in God's Image regional and conference trainings.
UCBHM Board authorizes staff to pursue a jointly published human sexuality learning program with the Unitarian Universalist Association and grants permission to seek outside funding sources.
A new UCBHM-UUA Sexuality Education Task Force is formed to develop new materials which eventually come to be identified as Our Whole Lives. Funds are raised (including grants from the Martin Foundation, Ford Foundation, Turner Foundation and others); authors are interviewed and hired; and details of production, field testing, revision and other steps are planned.
Program Values and Assumptions are shared in a workshop at the UCC "Children and the Church" event at Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, MO.
An author is engaged to write Junior High and Senior High religious companion materials.
Two presentations are made to the Educational Advisory Committee on Our Whole Lives and religious companion materials, concerning its implementation and future plans. Among the committee members present for the presentations are two UCC conference ministers.
An author is engaged to write religious companion materials for Grade K-1 and Grades 4-6.
Thirty-four local church people received training and 10 UCC congregations field-test the Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12 portions of Our Whole Lives. The learning programs are revised, based on evaluations from the test sites. Updates are given in many settings of the UCC using various methods of communication: Calendar of Prayer, United Church News, brochures, workshops, letters, General Synod, etc. A selection procedure to find trainers begins. Ethnic ministries and conferences are contacted for suggestions. The pieces of the resource are developed and continue to be revised.
Communication with conferences continues, United Church News carries an in-depth article (May 1999, p. 5.) Twenty-six UCC trainers are carefully selected and trained in all grades of the resource. In addition, several community people and UUA members are trained. The final training is held in March of 2000.
May—the children, youth and adult resources of the comprehensive Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith program are published and training of local churches begins. July—Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ becomes the ministry that continues the work of UCBHM in the area of human sexuality education. August—all Conference Ministers received a full set of Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith. They are encouraged to house these resources in a resource center where folk could review them. September—Minister for Children, Families and Human Sexuality Advocacy, Justice and Witness Ministries, begins work in the national setting of the UCC.
Communication continues between all settings of the UCC—training continues for UCC churches. Interested people are encouraged to be in dialog with their associations and conferences in organizing training events. Trainings are held and more are being planned. The UUA and UCC continue to work together to facilitate trainings and have had additional trainings for trainers.
The Young Adult Our Whole Lives Resource (ages 18-35) is published by the UUA. Six UCC people are trained as trainers as well as 16 UUA. The Young Adult Our Whole Lives UCC companion resource, Sexuality and Our Faith, is written by Rev. T. Michael Rock and Ms. Lynn Young.
The Adult Our Whole Lives UCC companion resource, Sexuality and Our Faith, is written by Rev. T. Michael Rock and Ms. Lynn Young. Over 1100 UCC adults have been trained as facilitators in the use of Our Whole Lives resources.
General Synod pronouncement and proposal for action on the United Church of Christ as a 'Just Peace Church'
85-GS-50 VOTED: The Fifteenth General Synod adopts the pronouncement "Affirming the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church."
Affirms the United Church of Christ to be a Just Peace Church and defines Just Peace as the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence. Places the United Church of Christ General Synod in opposition to the institution of war.
The Thirteenth General Synod called upon the United Church of Christ to become a Peace Church and the Fourteenth General Synod asked a Peace Theology Development Team to recommend to the Fifteenth General Synod theology, policy, and structure for enabling the United Church of Christ to be a peacemaking church. This pronouncement is based on insights from all three of the historic approaches of Christians to issues of war and peace—pacifism, just war, and crusade—but attempts to move beyond these traditions to an understanding rooted in the vision of shalom—linking peace and justice. Since Just War criterion itself now rules out war under modern conditions, it is imperative to move beyond Just War thinking to a theology of a Just Peace.
Biblical and theological foundations
A Just Peace is grounded in God's activity in creation. Creation shows the desire of God to sustain the world and not destroy. The creation anticipates what is to come: the history-long relationship between God and humanity and the coming vision of shalom.
Just Peace is grounded in covenant relationship. God creates and calls us into covenant, God's gift of friendship: "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezekiel 37:26). When God's abiding presence is embraced, human well-being results, or Shalom, which can be translated as Just Peace.
A Just Peace is grounded in the reconciling activity of Jesus Christ. Human sin is the rejection of the covenant of friendship with God and one another and the creation and perpetuation of structures of evil. Through God's own suffering love in the cross, the power of these structures has been broken and the possibility for relationship restored.
A Just Peace is grounded in the presence of the Holy Spirit. God sends the Holy Spirit to continue the struggle to overcome the powers ranged against human bonding. Thus, our hope for a Just Peace does not rest on human efforts alone, but on God's promise that we will "have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
A Just Peace is grounded in the community of reconciliation: the Just Peace Church. Jesus, who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), performed signs of forgiveness and healing and made manifest that God's reign is for those who are in need. The church is a continuation of that servant manifestation. As a Just Peace Church, we embody a Christ fully engaged in human events. The church is thus a real countervailing power to those forces that divide, that perpetuate human enmity and injustice, and that destroy.
Just Peace is grounded in hope. Shalom is the vision that pulls all creation toward a time when weapons are swept off the earth and all creatures lie down together without fear; where all have their own fig tree and dwell secure from want. As Christians, we offer this conviction to the world: Peace is possible.
Statement of Christian conviction
A. The Fifteenth General Synod affirms a Just Peace as the presence and interrelation of friendship, justice and common security from violence. The General Synod affirms the following as marks of a Just Peace theology:
Peace is possible. A Just Peace is a basic gift of God and is the force and vision moving human history. The meaning of a Just Peace and God's activity in human history, especially the life and witness of Jesus, is understood through the Bible, church history and the voices of the oppressed and those in the struggle for justice and peace. Nonviolent conflict is a normal and healthy reflection of diversity; working through conflict constructively should lead to growth of both individuals and nations.
Nonviolence is a Christian response to conflict shown to us by Jesus. We have barely begun to explore this little known process of reconciliation. Violence can and must be minimized, even eliminated in most situations. However, because evil and violence are embedded in human nature and institutions, they will remain present in some form. War can and must be eliminated.
The State should be based upon participatory consent and should be primarily responsible for developing justice and well-being, enforcing law, and minimizing violence in the process.
International structures of friendship, justice, and common security from violence are necessary and possible at this point in history in order to eliminate the institution of war and move toward a Just Peace. Unexpected initiatives of friendship and reconciliation can transform interpersonal and international relationships, and are essential to restoring community.
B. The Fifteenth General Synod affirms the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church. The General Synod affirms the following as marks of a Just Peace Church, calling upon each local church to become:
A community of hope, believing a Just Peace is possible, working toward this end, and communicating to the larger world the excitement and possibility of a Just Peace.
A community of worship and celebration, centering its identity in justice and peacemaking and the Good News of peace that is Jesus Christ.
A community of biblical and theological reflection, studying the Scriptures, the Christian story, and the working of the Spirit in the struggle against injustice and oppression.
A community of spiritual nurture and support, loving one another and giving one another strength in the struggle for a Just Peace.
A community of honest and open conflict, a zone of freedom where differences may be expressed, explored, and worked through in mutual understanding and growth.
A community of empowerment, renewing and training people for making peace/doing justice.
A community of financial support, developing programs and institutions for a Just Peace.
A community of solidarity with the poor, seeking to be present in places of oppression, poverty, and violence, and standing with the oppressed in the struggle to resist and change this evil.
A community of loyalty to God and to the whole human community over any nation or rival idolatry.
A community that recognizes no enemies, willing to risk and be vulnerable, willing to take surprising initiatives to transform situations of enmity. A community of repentance, confessing its own guilt and involvement in structural injustice and violence, ready to acknowledge its entanglement in evil, seeking to turn toward new life.
A community of resistance, standing against social structures comfortable with violence and injustice.
A community of sacrifice and commitment, ready to go the extra mile, and then another mile, in the search for justice and peace.
A community of political and social engagement, in regular dialogue with the political order, participating in peace and justice advocacy networks, witnessing to a Just Peace in the community and in the nation, joining the social and political struggle to implement a Just Peace.
C. The Fifteenth General Synod affirms friendship as essential to a Just Peace.
1. We affirm the unity of the whole human community and oppose any use of nationalism to divide this covenant of friendship.
2. We reject all labeling of others as enemies and the creation of institutions that perpetuate enemy relations.
3. We affirm diversity among peoples and nations and the growth and change that can emerge from the interchange of differing value systems, ideologies, religions and political and economic systems.
4. We affirm nonviolent conflict as inevitable and valuable, an expression of diversity and essential to healthy relationships among people and nations.
5. We affirm all nations developing global community and interchange, including:
a. freedom of travel,
b. free exchange of ideas and open dialogue,
c. scientific, cultural, and religious exchanges,
d. public education that portrays other nations fairly, breaking down enemy stereotypes and images, and
e. knowledge of foreign languages.
D. The Fifteenth General Synod affirms justice as essential to a Just Peace.
1. We affirm all nations working together to insure that people everywhere will be able to meet their basic needs, including the right of every person to:
a. food and clean water,
b. adequate health care,
c. decent housing,
d. meaningful employment,
e. basic education,
f. participation in community decision-making and the political process,
g. freedom of worship and religious expression,
h. protection from torture, and
i. protection of rights without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or social origin.
2. We affirm the establishment of a more just international order in which:
a. trade barriers, tariffs, and debt burdens do not work against the interests of poor people, and developing nations,
b. poor nations have a greater share in the policies and management of global economic institutions.
3. We affirm economic policies that target aid to the most needy: the rural poor, women, nations with poor natural resources or structural problems, and the poor within each nation.
4. We affirm economic policies that will further the interests of the poor within each nation:
a. promoting popular participation,
b. empowering the poor to make effective demand on social systems,
c. encouraging decentralization and greater community control,
d. providing for the participation of women in development,
e. redistributing existing assets, including land, and distributing more equitably future benefits of growth,
f. reducing current concentrations of economic and political power, and
g. providing for self-reliant development, particularly in food production.
5. We affirm nations transferring funds from military expenditures into programs that will aid the poor and developing strategies of converting military industries to Just Peace industries.
6. We oppose the injustices resulting from the development of national security states that currently repress the poor in organizing society against an external enemy.
7. We affirm a free and open press within each nation, without hindrance from government.
E. The Fifteenth General Synod affirms common security from violence as essential to a Just Peace.
1. We affirm that national security includes four interrelated components:
a. provision for general well-being,
b. cultivation of justice,
c. provision for defense of a nation, and
d. creation of political atmosphere and structure in which a Just Peace can flourish and the risk of war is diminished or eliminated.
2. We affirm the right and obligation of governments to use civil authority to prevent lawlessness and protect human rights. Such force must not be excessive and must always be in the context of the primary responsibility of the state in creating social justice and promoting human welfare. Any use of force must be based in the participatory consent of the people.
3. We affirm that war must be eliminated as an instrument of national policy and the global economy must be more just. To meet these goals, international institutions must be strengthened.
4. We affirm our support for the United Nations, which should be strengthened developing the following:
a. more authority in disputes among countries,
b. peacekeeping forces, including a permanent force of at least 5000, able to police border disputes and intervene when called to do so by the U.N.,
c. peacemaking teams, trained in mediation, conflict intervention, and conflict resolution,
d. support for international peace academies,
e. a global satellite surveillance system to provide military intelligence to the common community,
f. international agreements to limit military establishments and the international arms trade,
g. an international ban on the development, testing, use, and possession of nuclear and bio-chemical weapons of mass destruction, and
h. an international ban on all weapons in space and all national development of space-based defense systems and Strategic Defense Initiatives.
5. We affirm our support for the International Court of Justice and for the strengthening of international law, including:
a. the Law of the Sea Treaty,
b. universal ratification of the International Covenants and Conventions which seek to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and
c. recognition of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and removal of restrictions, such as the Connally Amendment, which impair the Court's effective functioning.
6. We reject any use or threat to use weapons and forces of mass destruction and any doctrine of deterrence based primarily on using such weapons. We also reject unilateral, full-scale disarmament as a currently accepted path out of the present international dilemma. We affirm the development of new policies of common security, using a combination of negotiated agreements, new international institutions and institutional power, nonviolent strategies, unilateral initiatives to lessen tensions, and new policies that will make the global economy more just.
7. We affirm the mutual and verifiable freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons as the most important step in breaking the escalating dynamics of the arms race and call upon the United States, the U.S.S.R., and other nations to take unilateral initiatives toward implementing such a freeze, contingent on the other side responding, until such time as a comprehensive freeze can be negotiated.
8. We declare our opposition to all weapons of mass destruction. All nations should:
a. declare that they will never use such weapons,
b. cease immediately the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons,
c. begin dismantling these arsenals, and
d. while the process of dismantling is going on, negotiate comprehensive treaties banning all such future weapons by any nation.
9. We declare our opposition to war, violence, and terrorism. All nations should:
a. declare that they will never attack another nation,
b. make unilateral initiatives toward dismantling their military arsenals, calling on other nations to reciprocate, and
c. develop mechanisms for international law, international peacekeeping, and international conflict resolution.
Proposal for action on organizing the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace church
85-GS-51 VOTED: The Fifteenth General Synod adopts the Proposal for Action "Organizing the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church."
Calls upon churches to organize themselves so as to be effective instruments of God's Just Peace. Calls for organizing the United Church of Christ regionally and nationally for more effective Just Peace witness. Calls for a two-year Just Peace offering and effective long-range funding.
This Proposal for Action builds on the proposed pronouncement, also submitted to the Fifteenth General Synod, "Affirming the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church." Like the pronouncement, the Proposal for Action has been developed in response to the request of the Fourteenth General Synod to recommend theology, policy, and structure for enabling the United Church of Christ to be a peace-making church.
The Fifteenth General Synod calls on all in the United Church of Christ to recognize that the creating of a Just Peace is central to their identity as Christians and to their Baptism into the Christian community.
A. Call To Local Churches
The Fifteenth General Synod calls on local churches to organize their common life so as to make a difference in the achieving of a Just Peace and the ending of the institution of war.
The Fifteenth General Synod calls for the development of four key components within local churches: spiritual development, Just Peace education, political advocacy, and community witness.
1. We call all local churches to the inward journey of spiritual nurture: prayer for a Just Peace, study of the Scriptures, theological reflection upon the work of the Holy Spirit, and celebration and worship that center the life of the community in the power and reality of the God who creates a Just Peace. We call for the development of Christian community that nurtures and supports members in the search for a Just Peace. We commend to all local churches the use of the World Peace Prayer, using the example of the Benedictine Sisters who pray this specific prayer each day at 12 noon:
Lead me/us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead me/us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead me/us from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts,our
world, our universe.
2. We call all local churches to the inward journey of education. Knowing that there are no easy answers to the creating of a Just Peace, we call for churches to establish the climate where all points of view can be respected and all honest feelings and opinions shared in the search for new answers and directions. We call for a steady program of Just Peace education and a steady flow of information on Just Peace issues into the life of the congregation.
3. We call all local churches to the outward journey of political witness, enabling all members to join the search for the politics of a Just Peace. Just Peace is both a religious concept and a political concept, and participation in the political arena is essential. We call for each church to appoint a contact person for the United Church of Christ Peace Advocacy and Hunger/Economic Justice Networks to follow closely those political issues most critical to the development of a Just Peace and to alert members of the local church when it is most appropriate to write or contact their Senators and Representatives.
4. We call all local churches to the outward journey of community witness. We call for local churches to make their convictions known in their communities through public forums, media, and presence in the public arena. We call for local churches to help shape public opinion and the climate in which the issues of a Just Peace are shaped. We call for churches to explore with military industries the opportunities for conversion into Just Peace industries. We call for evangelistic outreach, inviting others to join in the search for a Just Peace.
Because the times are so critical, we call for extraordinary witness as well as ordinary political involvement to break the power of the structural evils that prevent a Just Peace. We call upon local churches to be understanding and even supportive of persons who out of individual conscience take the responsibility for such nonviolent extraordinary witness. Examples of such witness might include: becoming a conscientious objector to war; refusing acceptance of employment with any project related to nuclear and biochemical weapons and warfare; refusing any and all assignments to use weapons of mass destruction as a member of the military; withholding tax money in protest of the excessively militaristic policies of our government;and engaging in acts of non- violent civil disobedience, willingly going to jail to call attention to specific outrages.
B. Call to Conferences and National Bodies
The Fifteenth General Synod calls upon Conferences and national bodies of the United Church of Christ to organize their common life so as to make a difference in the achieving of a Just Peace and the ending of the institution of war.
The Fifteenth General Synod calls for the development of four key components in developing the United Church of Christ so that it can make a real difference over the next years: regional centers, Washington advocacy, international presence, and national programs.
1. We call upon Conferences to develop regional centers able to link local churches into effective regional and national strategies. A variety of options are possible at the Association and Conference levels:
The development of regional United Church of Christ peace centers that resource local groups through educational, organizational, advocacy, and funding efforts;
The development of ecumenical regional Just Peace centers, in partnership with other denominations;
The funding of part-time, contract, or full-time Just Peace staff at the Association or Conference; and
The funding of ecumenical peace staff in states or metropolitan areas.
2. We call for the strengthening of our advocacy work in Washington, D.C., with more funding to develop the capacity of the United Church of Christ to make its witness known in the national political arena, to expand its capacity for policy analysis, to increase its presence on Capitol Hill in shaping legislation, to develop stronger communication links with churches around the country to share political developments and urge action, and to build coalitions.
3. We call upon the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries to explore and develop new models of peace and justice ministries globally to address particular situations of injustice, oppression, and real or potential violence, and to develop communication links between Christians in these critical situations and Christians in the United States, developing global partnership and global awareness in the search for a Just Peace.
4. We call upon all national bodies to continue to develop effective programs of advocacy, empowerment, and education. We call for more resources to develop national strategies of advocacy and action to increase the witness of the United Church of Christ for a Just Peace. We call for the Office for Church in Society to facilitate the coordination of this work.
Churches, Conferences, and national bodies, including the Office for Church in Society, the Executive Council, the United Church Board for World Ministries, and the Stewardship Council, have been requested in this Call to Action to respond to various directions. These bodies are responsible for developing the strategies and programs to fulfill the goals outlined here.
Note: Implementation of this Proposal for action is subject to the availability of funds.
Written by Vahan H. Tootikian
The history of Armenian Evangelicalism goes back to the second quarter of the nineteenth century. On July 1, 1846 thirty-seven men and three women established the Armenian Evangelical Church in the mission chapel in the Pera section of Istanbul (then Constantinople), Turkey. Four years later, on November 27, 1850, the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Medjid granted formal recognition to the newly established curch.
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), composed of Presbyterian and Congregational mission-minded people, played a decisive role in the rise of the Armenian Evangelical Church. Founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1810, and incorporated in 1812, the Board was one of the earliest missionary societies. Its aim was "to evangelize the heathen in foreign lands."  One of the Board?s prominent mission fields was the Middle East, where missionaries began work in 1819 with instructions to "evangelize" Jews and Muslims.  Resistance from these two established religious groups frustrated the best efforts of the missionaries, so they changed their strategy; they turned to native Christian agents to reach the non-Christians. To this end they approached various Eastern Orthodox churches. All except the Armenian Apostolic Church proved obdurate. Why?
The Armenians seem to have been imbued with a tremendous desire for learning and social progress. As a result, many of them were receptive and broad-minded toward the American missionaries and their projects.  This spirit of educational progress among Armenians opened the way for closer contact with the Armenian clergy and laypeople.
When the missionaries of the American Board began their work among Armenians, in 1831, the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire was experiencing a cultural renaissance, a revival of thinking in the social, economic, and intellectual realms. So the soil was fertile and ready for a religious awakening. In 1836 a group of reformists established a secret society named Parebashdoutian Miapanautune (The Society of the Pious), in order to reform the Armenian Apostolic Church.  The organization of this Society may properly be said to mark the beginning of Armenian Evangelicalism. 
The reformists met the strong resistance and opposition of the ruling Armenian magnates, the amiras, and the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Failure to reform the Armenian Apostolic Church continued to be a basic source of conflict. The reformists pushed their demands, which provoked strong retaliation from the Armenian patriarchate. Persecution and the formal act of excommunication by Patriarch Matteos Choohajian forced them to organize themselves into a separate religious community, the Protestant Millet.  All along the American missionaries stood by the Evangelicals and gave them spiritual, moral, and financial support.
Within a decade after its birth the Armenian Evangelical Church had grown by leaps and bounds. In order to administer the increased scope of the missionary work that followed the growth, and because of geographical proximity and organizational considerations, Armenian Protestantism was organized into church Unions. The first Unions were organized in Turkey, in the 1860s: Bithynia Union (1864), Eastern Union (1866), Cilician Union (1867), and Central Union (1868).  Then, at the turn of the century, two Unions were organized in America: the Armenian Evangelical Union of Eastern States (1901) and the Armenian Evangelical Union of California (1908). In May of 1914, immediately before the start of World War I, the Armenian Evangelicals organized the first Union in Armenia: the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches of Ararat. Thus before World War I the Armenian Evangelicals throughout the world counted seven Unions, with 178 churches. 
The Turkish genocide of the Armenians between 1915 and 1922 wiped out all the Armenian Evangelical Unions and most of the churches and their members in Turkey. The survivors of the massacres, "the Remnant," managed to organize two Unions in the 1920s in their new lands of adoption: the Armenian Evangelical Union of Syria and Lebanon (Cilicia)  and the Armenian Evangelical Union of France. Armenian Protestantism was reduced to four Unions. Since the merger of the two Unions in America, in 1971, the Armenian Evangelical Church has comprised three Unions.
Work of the American Board
In 1870 the two denominations that supported the American Board divided the supervision of the mission field between themselves; the Congregationalists were to be in charge of the native Protestants in Turkey and the Balkan countries and the Presbyterians were to assume responsibility for Arabic-speaking countries and Iran.  From then on the Armenian Evangelical churches in Turkey, and those of their members who escaped or survived the Turkish horrors and settled in the Near East and America, became closely affiliated with the Congregational denomination.
The American missionaries rendered invaluable services to the Armenian people, especially in the areas of education, philanthropy, culture, politics, and religion.
Education. Through their educational institutions, ranging from kindergarten to college, the American missionaries supplemented in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Armenian intellectual renaissance initiated by the Mekhitarists in the eighteenth century. To have an idea of the educational contribution of the American missionaries to the Armenians one has to look at the statistical account of the American schools as of 1913, the year preceding World War I: 10 colleges, with 1,748 students; 46 boarding and high schools, with 4,090 students; 3 theological seminaries, with 24 students; 8 industrial schools; 2 schools for the deaf and the blind; and 369 other schools directly or indirectly connected with the American Board, with 19,361 students. By the end of the war, in 1918, most of these schools had ceased to exist. 
Education became an attainable goal for all Armenians, without discrimination. Thousands of Armenian young people received their higher education at the American Board's institutions of higher learning, and many graduated from these schools to assume leadership roles in the Armenian community. Higher education became a viable option even for females, who, until the advent of institutions run by the American missionaries, had been excluded.
The missionary schools graduated a large number of women who, in turn, became educators of the younger generations of Armenians. In fact, toward the end of the nineteenth century the majority of teachers in Armenian elementary schools were female graduates and undergraduates from American missionary colleges, seminaries, and teacher-training institutions.  As a result of higher education, the status of women was elevated in a male-dominated society.
Philanthropy. The American Congregational missionaries rendered a valuable service to the less-privileged Armenians by their constant assistance. Through their orphanages, nursing homes, hospitals, and dispensaries they ministered to the physical needs of many. In the interior provinces of Turkey, where there were no medical facilities, the health services provided by the missionaries played a providential role. Countless lives were saved, thanks to the medical skill of missionary physicians and nurses.
During World War I, when 1.5 million Armenians were massacred with unparalleled brutality and another million were uprooted from their ancestral homeland and driven into the deserts of Syria without benefit of experienced leaders, the American Congregational missionaries assumed the role of good Samaritans. They mobilized all their resources and came to the aid of the battered Armenians. Because of their vision and initiative, the Near East Relief was organized, in 1915. A philanthropic and lifesaving institution second to none in that part of the world, the Near East Relief embraced and served almost every area need—social, educational, physical, and economic. It provided food for the starving survivors of the massacres, rescue homes for girls who had escaped from Muslim harems, medical care, relief for the sick, and orphanages. Moreover, it opened elementary schools for children and vocational schools for young adults and organized community health and recreational programs and industrial enterprises to teach various trades. During its fourteen-year existence the Near East Relief raised and expended $85 million for Armenians, and as Howard M. Sachar maintains, "it quite literally kept the entire Armenian people in the Near East alive." 
Literature and culture. One of the most valuable services the American missionaries performed was the translation of the Holy Bible into modern Armenian (Ashkharapar) by a competent team of linguists and scholars under the capable leadership of Elias Riggs. Until the middle of the nineteenth century the only Bible available to the Armenians was the classical Armenian (Krapar) Bible, which none but a small educated elite could read or understand. The Ashkharapar scripture made the Bible accessible to almost all Armenians.
In addition, the American missionaries published grammars. commentaries, religious books and educational pamphlets in modern Armenian. The missionary press in New York made a great contribution to the development of modern Armenian by publishing in the vernacular. 
Political freedom and social justice. The American Congregational missionaries played a decisive role in the whole area of political freedom and justice for the Armenian populace in the Ottoman Empire. The oppressive Ottoman rule and the Turkish government?s harassment militated against the Armenians in Turkey economically, socially, and politically, insofar as their religious life was concerned.
Because of the Armenians? historical claim to ancestral lands and their demands for basic human rights the Turks considered them a political threat, treated them as second-class citizens, and denied them certain fundamental freedoms. For more than four centuries the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were forced to live in absolute obedience to Turkish rule. The American missionaries, coming from a free and democratic country, advocated the principle of the inviolability of freedom of thought and conscience. This principle struck a responsive chord among Armenians, who, throughout their history, had cherished freedom even at the cost of their lives. 
Religious and spiritual values. The Congregational missionaries made a contribution to the spiritual realm of Armenians by introducing new methods of developing a vital Christian community, by laying the foundation for the proper understanding of the role of the laity in the mission of the church, by encouraging Christian outreach, by making the Bible accessible to laypeople in a vernacular edition they could read, and by encouraging the study of the scripture. Not only did they meet the needs of the emerging Armenian Evangelical Church, but they also brought about a spiritual revival among the Armenian people. 
In short, the Congregational missionaries made major contributions—contributions sufficient to ensure them an important place in the cultural history of the Armenian nation.
It must be said, however, that in spite of all their great contributions, the American missionaries were not wholeheartedly welcomed by all Armenians. The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul (then Constantinople), for instance, became apprehensive in view of the headway the American mission had made among Armenians. The Patriarchate and some lay leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church saw in the reform movement the meddling influence of the missionaries in the internal life of their church—an intrusion. The intruders in this case were foreigners with a completely different theological and psychological background. These Armenians argued that the motives of the missionaries were not so much the spread of the gospel (i.e., evangelism) as the spread of American Protestantism (i.e., proselytism). But the Armenian Evangelicals, along with the American missionaries, have insisted that the rationale for the missionaries? presence was to revive the Armenian Apostolic Church so that it in turn could reach out to non-Christian groups such as the Jews and the Muslims.
Unfortunately, the question of evangelism vs. proselytism remains unresolved. In the end, the issue is a matter of personal interpretation. Two views persist. Some people insist that since the Armenians were already Christians and did not need the good news, they were converted to Protestantism. Their evidence? The creation of an Armenian Protestant Church. Others insist that the American missionaries evangelized the Armenian nation. Their argument is that the early Armenian Evangelicals were not coerced into changing their religion, nor were they required to join a foreign Protestant denomination. By and large, Evangelical Armenians consider themselves evangelized; non-Evangelical Armenians consider the Armenian Evangelicals as proselytized.
Whatever the relative merits of these two conclusions may be, no one can deny that the American missionaries rendered invaluable services to the Armenian people.
Immigrants relate to Congregationalism
Because of their close association with Congregational missionaries, Armenians who immigrated to the United States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century began to organize Armenian Congregational churches. The churches were composed primarily of Armenian immigrants who had fled the oppression and persecution of the Turkish government. These immigrants organized their churches not by deliberate choice, but "by pressure of necessity."  They were unfamiliar with the language and the customs of their new country, and in some cases they were not welcomed by the congregations of the local American Protestant churches.  They wanted to worship in their own language and they wanted one another?s company.
During the initial period of organization most of the Armenian Congregational churches in America were founded by laity, because most Armenian Evangelical ministers were still in their homeland. These churches were the "exact facsimile of the churches the early immigrants had left behind."  They were typically Armenian in all respects—language, traditions, customs, and patterns of thought and belief. Thus these churches provided places of worship for an immigrant people who were by language and culture identified with the old country. They gave guidance for the spiritual growth and solidarity of the Armenian Evangelical constituency and provided benevolent and financial support for Armenians in need overseas. 
Although the majority of the twenty-four Armenian Evangelical churches in the United States were founded before World War I, it was not until after the Turkish massacres of the Armenians that a stream of immigrants reached America and strengthened Armenian Protestantism numerically as well as financially. 
The first Armenian church established on the North American continent was an Armenian Congregational church—the Armenian Congregational Church of the Martyrs in Worcester, Massachusetts—founded in 1881.  All the early members and ministers of the Armenian Evangelical churches in America were immigrants from Cilicia and Armenia, survivors of persecutions and massacres. They were determined to salvage and serve the Armenian Remnant and to preserve the Armenian heritage by founding new churches and cultural organizations. The majority of the early Armenian Evangelicals in America cherished the Congregational way of worship and church polity that they had learned about from the Congregational Board missionaries. They wanted to organize churches in which they could enjoy all the freedoms that their conscience directed. 
The Armenian Evangelical Union of Eastern States, which included all the Armenian Evangelical churches east of the Mississippi River, was founded in 1901, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Later, in 1960, when the Armenian Evangelical churches of Toronto and Montreal joined the Union, the name was changed to Armenian Evangelical Union of Eastern States and Canada.
The California Union was organized in May 1908 and was first called the Armenian Congregational Union of California, but so that Armenian Presbyterian churches might join in, its name was changed to the Armenian Evangelical Union of California. 
In their early days most of the Armenian Congregational churches in America received moral and financial support from the Congregational churches,  but the majority soon became self-sufficient. Moreover, they even extended aid to Armenian churches in the homeland and helped further the reestablishment of Armenian Evangelical churches in the Armenian diaspora. 
Within a brief span of time the Armenian Congregational churches organized viable Christian Endeavor Societies, missionary committees, women?s and men?s clubs, fellowships, church schools, and other auxiliary groups. They participated in the benevolent efforts of Armenian relief, such as Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Near East Relief, the Wheat Relief Campaign, and other compatriotic organizations.  The Armenian Congregational churches also provided strong leadership in Armenian community affairs. Their spiritual and lay leaders, for instance, played a decisive role in the founding of the Knights of Vartan, a pan-Armenian brotherhood. They became the largest single group of contributors to one of the most influential magazines in the Armenian diaspora,Hayastan Gotchan.  The support of both the pastors and parishioners of the Armenian Evangelical constituency in the United States combined to make the Armenian General Benevolent Union the largest Armenian benevolent organization in the world.
Understandably, the attitude of the first generation of Armenian immigrants was one of ethnocentrism. Both internal and external forces tended to keep them united and reinforced in their distinctiveness. This attitude sought the assurance of their long-range stability.
The Second Generation
The native-born children of immigrants were able to follow a different road in reacting to their American environment. The new attitude of the American-born generation resulted from the common English language, uniform secular education in the public schools, uniform political institutions, and general economic and business relationships. In this way acculturation was effected principally in the fields of education, politics, economics, and religion. 
The offspring of Armenian immigrants, the generation that was born in the adopted country of their parents, went through a transitional period. Members of this generation had mixed feelings about their heritage, never being wholly certain whether it was best to disown it entirely or to seek some happy but seemingly elusive middle ground. It was this generation, for example, that changed the language policy of the Armenian Evangelical churches. Until the late 1940s the principal language of the Armenian Evangelical churches and the then existing two Unions was Armenian; English, the second language, was used predominantly by youth and its organizations. The first church to reverse its language policy was the Cilician Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1949.  In this respect it became the pioneer of an experiment and by its success gave other Armenian Evangelical churches an example to follow.
The autonomy of individual Armenian Evangelical churches also opened the way to denationalization. For example, in some Armenian Evangelical circles in America a strong controversy existed from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s concerning the issue of ethnicity versus denationalization. Some ministers openly advocated the abandonment of unique Armenian characteristics of their churches in favor of community churches open to all nationalities. Others insisted that the raison d'?tre of an Armenian church is its unique character, that the abandonment of this Armenian character in Armenian Evangelical churches is a betrayal of Armenian history "written in the blood of countless martyrs."  A few churches toyed with the idea of becoming community churches, of dropping the appellation "Armenian" from the church name, of abandoning their ethnic heritage, and of opening the church to the community at large in order to attract and recruit members from the local community. Some of these churches even employed non-Armenian ministers. But their experimentation proved to be counterproductive. Not only did they fail to attract any new members from the local communities, but they also lost some of the current members in protest against changes that reflected, in their view, an "unwise policy." 
Armenian Missionary Association of America
One great source of pride and glory of Armenian Evangelicalism in general and of Armenian Congregational churches in America in particular is the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). Founded on June 7, 1918, in Worcester, Massachusetts, the AMAA was not only a compassionate attempt to help the Armenian remnant materially and morally, but also a prophetic voice that perhaps more than any other influence in the postwar years kept the embers alive. Sustained at first only by their zeal and fervor, the exiled Armenian Evangelicals mustered the courage to live on as a tiny community in the Middle Eastern countries. The AMAA provided guidance at a time when a great deal of uncertainty and confusion prevailed. A joint Outreach Committee was organized, composed of representatives of the AMAA and the American Board. This joint benevolent committee devised a plan to aid the needy and developing Armenian Evangelical churches and organizations in the Near East. Gradually, the American Board decreased its contribution and the AMAA increased its portion. 
Since its inception the AMAA has been not only the missionary arm of the Armenian Congregational churches in North America, but also the "golden chain" binding all Armenian Evangelicals throughout the world. It has drawn them together and has become a source of assistance embodying intense concern for all Armenians in need, always answering the call for help. As a nonprofit, nonpolitical missionary and philanthropic organization, the AMAA has supplied vision and material support as well as moral inspiration to Armenians everywhere. It has achieved an outstanding record of service in educational, cultural, physical, spiritual, and moral spheres—a service broader today than ever before—and has consistently contributed to a myriad of worthy causes. The AMAA has developed a missionary outreach in thirteen countries, serving underprivileged Armenians through numerous missionary projects, such as child education sponsorships, college and seminary scholarships, medical and general relief provisions, widespread missionary outreach and activities, encouragement of neophyte mission centers, financial aid to religious publications and meeting the needs of the destitute and forgotten.
Armenian Evangelical Union of North America
Another proud accomplishment of the Armenian Evangelicals in America was the creation of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEU-NA). The AEU-NA was the product of the merger of the Armenian Evangelical Union of Eastern States and Canada, Inc., and the Armenian Evangelical Union of California, Inc. After more than six decades of separate existence the twenty-one churches and three fellowships of these two Unions united, in 1971, into one Christian group "to uphold one another in their needs, to work together in mutual respect, ... to work for the Kingdom of God, to promote their general welfare and their missionary outreach." 
Since its inception the AEU-NA has embarked on a number of ventures and has accomplished some important undertakings, including:
The 75th Anniversary One-Million-Dollar Campaign for the purpose of promoting religious, educational, and cultural programs as well as sustaining and strengthening the Armenian Evangelical churches in North America.
The establishment of two new churches—one in Hollywood, California, and the other in Cambridge, Ontario.
The organization of new fellowships in California—one in San Diego and the other in San Jose.
The creation of a Long-Range Planning Committee to evaluate and reassess the present status of the AEU-NA and to chart a new course for the future.
The establishment of a Christian Education camp (Camp Arev) in California.
The publication of a newsletter, AEU-NA Forum, and a bulletin, AEU-NA Updae.
The merger of the Armenian Protestant Youth Fellowship and Armenian Christian Endeavor Union of California into one body—Armenian Evangelical Youth Fellowship.
The establishment of the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center in Hollywood, California.
The creation of the office of Executive Secretary.
The creation of a Task Force on Ecumenicity for the purpose of strengthening ties with the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The participation in the First World Conference of Armenian Evangelicals convened by the AMAA.
Publication of the Armenian Evangelical Hymnal in 1976.
Today Armenian Evangelicals in America are a small minority. Their constituency comprises twenty churches, with a total communicant membership of about four thousand and an additional four thousand supporting members, youth, and church school pupils. By the 1950s fourteen of these churches were part of the Congregational Christian denomination. In 1957, when the Evangelical and Reformed Church united with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ, all fourteen of these Armenian Congregational churches  decided to become part of the larger body. Since then they have been contributing financially and spiritually to the denomination. They have dual allegiances: Ethnically, they are Armenian Evangelical and belong to the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; denominationally, they are loyal to the United Church of Christ.
Some of these Armenian Congregational churches are small in number. Not only do they lack a central wellspring of vitality, but they are also battling for survival. They have been experiencing declining membership and attendance. Others, particularly those in California, have managed to do more than merely survive. Owing to the influx of Armenian immigrants from the Middle Eastern countries and Soviet Armenia they are growing numerically and have been showing signs of vitality, including some significant achievements in terms of building programs, finances, and religious and ethnic activities.
Overall, the contributions of the Armenian Congregational churches in America to contemporary denominational and ethnic life are noteworthy despite the churches? minority status and their many problems.
At present the Armenian Congregational churches not only support generously the local Associations and Conferences, but many of their ministers and lay leaders also serve the denomination through various agencies, boards, and committees. It is heartwarming to note that in the past two decades more than a score of Armenian Congregational pastors have ministered or still are ministering to non-Armenian churches.
In some ways Armenian Congregationalism has come of age; it is no longer a dependent movement. It is self-supporting and self-reliant and has developed its own material, intellectual, and spiritual resources to the extent of not only helping itself but also going beyond.
Vahan H. Tootikian is the pastor of Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit, Michigan. Author of The Armenian Evangelical Church (1982) and Reflections of an Armenian (1980).
1. William E. Strong, The Story of the American Board (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1910), p. 3. 2. Edwin M. Bliss, A Concise History of Missions (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1897), p. 128.
3. O. G. H. Dwight, Christianity Revived in the Near East (New York: Baker and Scribner, 1850), pp. 327?29.
4. American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Annual Report (Boston, 1836), p. 15.
5. Stepan Eutudjian, Dzakoumn Yev Entatzn Avedaranaganootyan Ee Hais (The Rise and Course of Evangelicalism Among Armenians) (Constantinople: Arax Press, 1914), pp. 10-15.
6. Yeghia S. Kassouny, Loossashavigh (The Path of Light: History of the Armenian Evangelical Movement) (Beirut: American Press, 1947), pp. 19-24. Also, Dicran J. Kherlopian, Vossgemadian (Golden Anniversary. A History of the Armenian Evangelical Movement and the Armenian Evangelical Union of the Near East), vol. 1 (Beirut: Armenian Evangelical Union of the Near East, 1950), p. 4. The word millet is derived from the Arabic milla, used in the sense of religious community. In the Ottoman Empire the non-Muslim subjects were organized in semiautonomous bodies called millets.
7. Leon Arpee, A History of Armenian Christianity (New York: Armenian Missionary Association of America, 1946), pp. 240?41.
8. The Armenian Evangelical historian Yeghia Kassouny states that although the ?Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches of Ararat? was organized in May of 1914, the Armenian Evangelicals could not hold Union meetings before 1919 because of World War I. They started holding meetings after Armenia became an independent republic. Annual conventions were held regularly until 1926. By 1927, because of government restrictions, the Union was dissolved as church life was disrupted. Kassouny, op. cit., pp. 452?54.
9. A. A. Bedikian, ?The Armenian Evangelical Churches in America,? The Bulletin (a quarterly publication of Armenian Evangelical Union: New York, 1962) 8, no. 3:25.
10. The Armenian Evangelical Union of Syria and Lebanon (Cilicia) assumed the name Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAEC-NE) in 1930.
11. James S. Dennis, Foreign Missions After a Century (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1893), p. 180.
12. Yervant H. Hadidian, American Contribution to Armenian Culture, Armenian/American Outlook (New York: Joint Publication of the Armenian Evangelical Union and Armenian Missionary Association of America, Inc.) 9, no. 1:3-4.
13. Gorun Shrikian, Armenians Under the Ottoman Empire and the American Missions Influence (Ph.D. diss. Concordia Seminary in Exile in cooperation with Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1977), 450-51.
14. Howard Sachar, The Emergence of the Middle East: 1914-1924 (New York: Knopf, 1969), p. 345.
15. Vahan H. Tootikian, The Armenian Evangelical Church (Detroit Armenian Heritage Committee, 1982), p. 29.
16. Ibid., p. 30.
17. Ibid., p. 31.
18. Bedikian, op. cit., p. 23.
19. In the annals of the Armenian Evangelical churches in America there are a number of cases of discrimination against Armenian Evangelicals in the cities of Boston, Worcester, and Fresno by local Congregational Church members. But these in no way reflected a segregationist policy on the part of official church bodies.
20. Bedikian, op. cit., p. 23.
21. Vartkes Kassouni, The Past Our Honor—The Future Our Challenge, Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Booklet of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church (Fresno: n.p., 1974), p. 6.
22. The mass immigration of the Armenians to America began after the massacres of 1895, and later, after the Turkish atrocities of 1915, which forced thousands of refugees to find shelter on distant American shores. In 1910 the figure reached 70,000, rising to 130,000 in 1920. Today the Armenians in the United States number somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000.
23. Herald A. G. Hassessian, The 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Church of the Martyrs, Worcester, Mass., Armenian/American Outlook 4, no. 3:17-18.
24. Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, 1901-1976 (Fresno: Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, 1976), p. 4.
25. Hagop Chakinakjian, The Armenian Evangelical Union of California, Armenian Evangelical Union Bulletin, 7, nos. 3 and 4 (1961):23.
26. Harry M. Missirlian, Our Armenian Heritage, Pilgrim?s Progress (Fresno: weekly publication of Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church) 3, no. 140(1975):1.
27. A. A. Bedikian makes a significant observation concerning the relationship of the Armenian Evangelical churches in America to those of the homeland. He writes: ?The providential fact should be noted that the Armenian Evangelical churches in the land of their nativity had attained some maturity during their first fifty years of their history.. . . They had, in a sense, mothered the churches in the United States, in their childhood; these, in turn, attaining robust adulthood, responded to the call of the stricken mother in her agony of death and gave her life.? See Bedikian, op. cit., p. 24.
28. Chakmakjian, op. cit. 8 (1962):31.
29. Two long-time and most prominent editors of Hayastani Gotchnag were two veteran Armenian Evangelical ministers, the Rev. Khachadour Benneyan and the Rev. Antranig Bedikian. Also, a host of Armenian Evangelical intellectuals, with their scholarly articles, gave the magazine a most enviable status.
30. Zaven Arzoumanian, The Armenian Religious Cultural Community of America, The Armenian Church (New York: Organ of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, 1978) 9:3.
31. Yervant H. Hadidian, Our Thirteen Years Together, The Armenian Memorial Church Bulletin (Watertown: monthly publication of Armenian Memorial Church, MS. 1963), p. 2.
32. A. A. Bedikian, A Time for Reevaluation of the Mission of Our Churches, Armenian Evangelical Union of America and Armenian Missionary Association of America (Barrington, VT: Armenian Information Bureau, 1960), p. 1.
33. Tootikian, op. cit., p. 192.
34. Ibid., pp. 63-64.
35. Armenian Evangelical Union of North America Constitution and By-Laws (Detroit, 1974), p. 1.
36. The fourteen Armenian churches are First Armenian Church, Belmont, MA; Armenian Congregational Church, Chicago; Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit, Southfield, MI; Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church, Downey, CA; Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, Fresno, CA; Armenian Martyrs? Congregational Church, Havertown, PA; Armenian Evangelical Church, New York City; Armenian Cilicia Congregational Church, Pasadena, CA; Armenian Euphrates Evangelical Church, Providence, RI; Armenian Ararat Congregational Church, Salem, NH; Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco; United Armenian Calvary Congregational Church, Troy, NY; Armenian Memorial Church, Watertown, MA; The Armenian Congregational Church of the Martyrs, Worcester, MA.
Written by Clifford Alika and Miya Okawara
The first Japanese immigrants who entered the United States legally were government officials from Japan. They arrived in San Francisco on the Kanrin Maru at the time feudalism in Japan was being replaced by a new democratic government under Emperor Meiji. Even with this milestone event the Japanese government was still reluctant to let its people go abroad. Therefore, the daring and adventurous ones stowed away on American vessels traveling to the United States.
Later many others came as laborers. These were the Issei (first generation).
Joseph Hardy Neesima
Japanese American Congregationalism begins with a Japanese youth named Neesima Jo. Born in Tokyo on January 14, 1843, he was ten years old when Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry first entered the Bay of Yedo in Japan. When Neesima was about sixteen years old he came across an atlas of the United States. The atlas contained particulars about the United States, including references on such subjects as the President, free schools, hospitals, prisons, and factories. "I read it many times," he wrote in a letter to a friend. "I wondered so much as my brain would melt out of my head because I liked it so much."
Neesima later found a small Chinese Bible in a friend's library. He was enthralled and impressed as he read about the God who was responsible for the creation of humanity and of the whole world. Thus he yearned to learn about Christianity and to learn more about the United States. In 1864, risking his life, Neesima boarded an American schooner and smuggled himself out of Japan. During the trip Neesima was befriended by Alpheus Hardy, a Christian merchant who was deeply interested in mission. Hardy employed the young Neesima as a servant but quickly realized that he was not about to be a houseboy. Neesima took on the name Joseph Hardy Neesima.
On arrival in Boston, Hardy immediately enrolled Neesima in the Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, and in due time Neesima was ready for college. He did well, entering Amherst College and graduating in 1870. Later he went to Andover Theological Seminary, graduating in the summer of 1874.
Joseph Hardy Neesima was ordained as the first Japanese Evangelical minister. He was appointed as a corresponding member of the Japan Mission of the American Board of Com- missioners for Foreign Missions.
In December of 1874 Neesima began preparations to return to Japan. Just before he was to leave, Neesima spoke before the annual meeting of the American Board. He pleaded for the establishment of a Christian school in Japan. With a broken voice and strong emotions he said, "I cannot go back to Japan without money to found a Christian college, and I am going to stand here until I get it."
Overwhelmed and moved, the Board immediately pledged $5,000. The gift became the nucleus of what is now Doshisha University, a Christian university built in the center of Buddhism and Shintoism in Kyoto, Japan.
Mission work among the west coast Japanese
By the 1870s more and more Japanese were coming to America, especially to study. In 1872 four Japanese students began meeting at the Third Congregational Church on Howard Street in San Francisco. Although initially strangers to one another, the students quickly became friends and decided to meet every Sunday at the church. A Mrs. Wilson, an active member of the church's Women's Mission Society, offered to hold a Bible study class and an English-language class for them. But the church had no room for "orientals."
They eventually found space in the basement of the Chinese Methodist Mission, on Washington Street. The rental fee was three dollars a month. Mrs. Wilson went to the Women's Mission Society, and it agreed to contribute $2.50 toward the rent. The balance of fifty cents was paid by the four students.
The Japanese did not speak the Chinese language. Nonetheless, because they were "orientals," they were sent to an "oriental" church. In the months and years that followed a sign on the basement door announcing the English-language class attracted more Japanese students.
In 1876 ten students were baptized by a Methodist missionary. The following year, thirty-five students, led by Kanichi Miyama, organized the Japanese Gospel Society. Thus with the support of the Congregational Women's Mission Society the genesis of the first Japanese Christian church in the United States was formed by students meeting in the basement of the Chinese Methodist Mission.
It was not until the turn of the century, in 1899, that the Congregational Home Missionary Society began their mission specifically to Japanese residing in the United States? The move was clearly made in response to the increase in the Japanese population.
Often the work began with a handful of Issei, like the students who began meeting at the Chinese Methodist Mission. All were strangers in a strange land and often they were strangers to one another. Each was seeking to learn the English language and each found a source of strength and encouragement in having fellowship with other Japanese.
As the number of Japanese increased, separate missions were established under the supervision of the Rev. William C. Pond, of the Home Missionary Society. Many were affiliated with First Congregational churches in their respective areas. Between 1885 and 1926 fifteen Japanese American churches came into being:
San Francisco Congregational Church—1885
Salt Lake City Mission—1901
Oakland Independent Congregational Church—1904
Los Angeles Congregational Church—1905
Los Angeles Bethlehem—1905
Seattle Congregational Church—1907
San Diego Congregational Church—1907
Fresno Independent Congregational Church—1908
Santa Barbara Congregational Church—1913
Montebello Congregational Church—1913
Hollywood Independent Congregational Church—1922
Santa Maria Congregational Church—1926 
Many of the Japanese congregations continued to receive mission support throughout the first part of the twentieth century. In 1904, however, the Rev. Shinjiro Okubo, a graduate of Doshisha University, indicated to the people of the Oakland church that he had a dream to establish a strong independent church for Japanese in America, a church that would serve Christ through its own initiatives. He felt that the "mission church did not foster the kind of spirit and sacrificial service that can lead to an abiding faith."
Okubo believed that "living under the charge of the missionary is the easy way. . . . In an independent church, members must assume responsibilities of carrying the church in their own hands... . An independent people with minds and spiritual lives of their own should become self- supporting and selfgoverning." His goal. to "establish an independent church, financed and governed by the Japanese people themselves," was realized two years later, on January 7, 1906. In March of the following year the church was officially and legally recognized as the Oakland Independent Congregational Church.
In the ensuing years more missions and churches declared their independence from their Congregational mission ties. Ministers were called from Hawaii and Japan, and dedicated laypeople took on the heavy responsibilities of the churches' financial and other ongoing needs. Sunday schools were conducted in Japanese by the pioneer members of the church. Great sacrificial efforts went into raising funds for church buildings. A documented history of Sycamore Congregational Church (formerly the Oakland Independent Congregational Church) notes that "families put cardboard soles in their shoes and some women gave up wearing stockings so they might give a little more to the building fund. The Rev. Okubo went without his salary, while his wife went to work as a cleaning woman in a Caucasian home."
Coping with racism
Hard work and great sacrifice were not enough. Anti-Japanese sentiments increased and churches tried to help. In November 1909 the Japanese Congregationalists gathered in Fresno for a conference. Dr. Pond was elected Superintendent of the Japanese Congregational churches. Efforts were made to lift the morale of the Japanese community. Disheartened by the severe anti- Japanese movement that was fostered by surrounding communities, the Japanese Congregational churches joined other denominational Japanese churches to organize the Northern/Southern California Japanese Church Federation.
The Federation's objectives were to combat hostilities brought on by racism by encouraging the churches to help acquaint the Issei with American ways of behaving, speaking, and understanding; to stand firm against gambling, prostitution, and liquor; and to preach the sacredness of home life and social justice.
For example, the Japanese Congregational Church in Fresno struggled with matters involving gambling and prostitution. These problems affected hundreds of Japanese laborers who were working during the grape harvest.
The churches sponsored athletic leagues and social activities for children who could not participate in sports and social events at school. Concerted efforts were made to draw more women into the life of the churches.
Youth groups were organized. In 1930 the Christian Endeavor was set up to serve the social needs of the Nisei (second generation). Young Peoples' Christian conferences were held, providing opportunities for Niseileadership to develop.
Many Japanese farmers achieved a relative amount of economic success by pioneering new developments in the production of fruit, vegetables, garlic, and other produce. However, fear and racism ultimately triumphed. Laws were passed limiting the rights of the Japanese to own or lease land and to become citizens. But this did not deter the tenacious Issei pioneers from working on farmland and producing some of the top-grade fruits and vegetables in the country.
In 1920 a second anti-Japanese Alien Land Law was enacted by the state of California. Before the enactment of this referendum the Rev. Joseph K. Fukushima, of the Fresno Independent Congregational Church, sent an urgent appeal to his "American minister friends. The letter read, in part:
At the polls on November 2nd, you are going to vote on the Initiative Bill No. I entitled Alien Land Law. The passage of this Bill is a great persecutor to the Japanese in California, who were legally admitted to this country, rather than solving the problems.
The measure now before you intends to:
1. Prohibit land ownership by Japanese
2. Prohibit the acquisition of real property by American born Japanese minors, who are American citizens under the guardianship of their parents
3. Prohibit leasing of farm land by Japanese
4. Deprive the Japanese parents of their natural right to be the guardian of their minor sons and daughters owning real property
5. Escheat real property to the state upon certain prima facie presumptions
6. Prohibit the Japanese from owning the shares of stock of corporations which deal with farm land
The measure is so harsh and severe that nothing will be left for the Japanese to live on. This is quite contrary to your high ideal which has been the inspiration for us during the past half century. While this measure persecutes the Japanese in California, it does not check immigration from Japan.
Since the time the first Alien Land Law was enacted in 1913, our Japanese churches of Christ have also suffered. It hindered us even to acquire a piece of land for the place of worship. Do you think it is wise to solve the matter in this way? Can you not give them, who are already here, the opportunity to become American citizens, and do justice for them? We only desire fair treatment equal to others."
Despite Fukushima's eloquent appeal no records could be found as to how the ministers responded. The bill was eventually passed, and the oppression of the Japanese throughout the state of California continued.
Although segregated and isolated, the seven Japanese Congregational churches which were scattered up and down the western region became the gathering place for many Issei and Nisei. The churches provided strength and assurance to a people caught in the middle of a racism that was prevalent in society in general.
On December 7, 1941, the United States responded to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor with a declaration of war. Within three months President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation and incarceration of more than 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry and more than 40,000 Japanese nationals, most of whom were permanent U.S. residents.
Executive Order 9066 broadly authorized any military commander to exclude any person from any area. Although the Presidential order did not mention any specific group or provide detention, there was an understanding among high officials that the authorization was to be used for the purpose of removing and incarcerating all persons of Japanese ancestry living in the West Coast states. Ten sites were built by the U.S. government for the mass incarceration of more than 120,000 persons.
The hopes and aspirations of the Issei and Nisei were shattered. The Japanese in these camps eventually became wards of the government, guarded by armed soldiers. Fathers were no longer family breadwinners, parents lost control of their children, and families rarely ate meals together. Many were terrified because of the unpredictable future and the hopelessness of the situation and did not expect to come out alive.
Within the Japanese American church community the response of some was a deep sense of bewilderment. In his book, Christian Seed in Western Soil, Harlan Hogue recalls the response of a seminary student:
On the night of Pearl Harbor, we trickled into Benton Hall one by one, the last man getting in from a far distant parish about 11:00 p.m. We all gathered in the tiny chapel in the corner of Benton Hall and prayed together in the candlelight, with closing prayers by our Japanese students.
I think it was the most moving emotional experience of our lives... . A Japanese boy from Fresno, who had played football at Fresno State and was as "Americanized" as any Nisei ... was so deeply wrought up ... that he retired to his room for twenty-four hours and did not come out to eat or attend class. He later became a distinguished chaplain for the famous 442nd Battalion."
That seminary student became the Rev. George Aki. Like other Japanese Congregational ministers, Aki served in ministry in the concentration camps. He first served as a minister at the Tanforan Assembly Center and later at the concentration camp at Topaz, Utah. Many clergy in the Japanese American community for example, the Rev. Joseph K. Fukushima, Rohwer, Arkansas; the Rev. Seizo Abe, Manzanar, California; and the Rev. Kenji Kikuchi, at Poston, Arizona as well as those who represented the Christian and Buddhist traditions and a host of lay leaders, carried their ministry to the camps. Faced with the immediacy of life within the camps,
the clergy, as a rule, were not involved in the affairs of the administration. Those few who took active part in actually serving as interpreters or as members of an important committee were looked upon with suspicion, so by and large the clergy did not extend their hand to matters that dealt directly with the administration. They worked quietly in the local block meetings and allowed the block leaders to express grievances or correct injustices... . There was no noticeable or recorded conference on "suffering" or "injustice" ... from a religious standpoint. Political grievances were expressed through the block manager's council.
The work of the faith community was focused primarily on pastoral matters. In looking back, one might question the lack of a prophetic voice among the Japanese-American clergy.
The white response
Within the white church community questions were raised about the legality and necessity of the evacuation. It quickly became apparent that the evacuation was instead an incarceration. On June 18, 1942, the General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches of the United States adopted a resolution at its sixth regular meeting in Durham, New Hampshire:
Christian conscience and the long range interests of our nation alike require the facing of the deeper implications of the emergency mass evacuation from our West Coast of some 70,000 American citizens, along with 40,000 resident Japanese. Every time a majority deprives a minority of its civil rights it undermines its own liberties, and the unity and world-wide influence of the nation.
Be it, therefore, resolved:
That while national security justified the evacuation of Japanese residing in vital military areas on the West Coast, we deplore the fact that all persons with any Japanese blood, citizens as well as aliens, were as a group subjected to evacuation without hearings or other means of determining loyalty.
In retrospect, the resolution is remarkable in that it did recognize some of the deeper implications of the action. Unfortunately, its strength was weakened by its reluctance to question the notion that the evacuation/incarceration was necessary because of national security.
In Berkeley, California, others sought to raise a prophetic voice. The Rev. Galen Fischer and Ruth Kingman, both members of the First Congregational Church, were active in the work of the Fair Play Committee. As a former missionary to Japan, Fischer argued that "Americans should differentiate between the actions of the Japanese government and those of Japanese ancestry in this country who were incarcerated on the West Coast." The Fair Play Committee asserted that what was at issue was "the civil rights of U.S. citizens and a need to humanize the situation until it could be invalidated and rescinded." 
The Rev. Vere V. Loper, minister of First Congregational Church in Berkeley, along with Kingman, played a key role in one of the church's major responses to the evacuation. Through a series of conversations with government and church leaders, the Army was informed that the Church Council had voted to make the church facilities available for the registration and evacuation of Japanese Americans from the area and that a number of Protestant churches would be assisting in the work each day. "The initiative came from the church. The formalities were observed, though, so the Army requested." Although the church was clearly seeking to respond to the evacuation with pastoral concern, some serious questions are raised about the church's complicity in undermining the civil rights of Japanese American citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry.
The Church Council's motion that its facilities be offered to the Army passed with one dissenting vote. The dissenter thought the church should not "cooperate with the dirty business." At the same time the Council voted without dissent that they wanted to "see that some courtesies are extended to the evacuees."
Eleanor Breed, church secretary at First Congregational Church, noted in her diary during the church's involvement in registration and evacuation procedures: "It came over me suddenly, and with shock, that the soldiers who have been on guard have been here not to protect us from the Japanese so much as to protect the Japanese against us."
Ambivalence was evident among those who expressed appreciation for the church's hospitality and yet noted, as did Monroe Deutsch, University of California at Berkeley, that "these people who are being evacuated have had no charges against them individually; they are not guilty of misconduct. They are being removed because of fear. Personally, I feel that our country will some day feel ashamed of its conduct in this entire matter."
Others were more adamant in their assessment of the evacuation. Among such people were Enoch and Margaret Dumas. Along with their six-year-old son, the Dumases lived for three years with Japanese Americans in the concentration camp at Amache, Colorado. With Dr. Dumas in charge of the elementary education program, Mrs. Dumas recalls, "We did not approve of the relocation. We thought it was un-American, unconstitutional, unnecessary, and immoral but it was happening and my husband felt that he would like to see that the youngsters got the best possible education while they were there,"
Although other churches, such as the Congregational Church of San Mateo, California, took part in serving as centers for registration and evacuation, the efforts of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley were, ironically, the most comforting and the most disturbing. In a joint publication with the Berkeley Fellowship of Churches, Dr. Loper served as the primary writer of "A Statement to Japanese Friends and Fellow Americans."
"We hope," the statement noted, "we can offer something of value to you in Christian hospitality." Many of the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated remembered with genuine appreciation the hospitality of the church. The statement also noted that "the service you now render to America is the loss, for the duration, of your homes. We rejoice to know that many of you are facing it in the same spirit in which others are facing the possible loss of their sons, for much longer than the duration." One may argue that the inclusion of the remark reflects the historical context of that period. It is, nevertheless, an unfortunate remark. At best, it may have been of comfort to white Americans and at worst it was a callous disregard for the sufferings of an innocent people.
In retrospect it is clear that the white church community made little prophetic effort to resist the evacuation/incarceration. Like the Japanese Americans themselves, they were resigned to accepting the reality of the exile and sought to concentrate on providing pastoral care.
Beyond the camps
By the fall of 1942 indefinite-leave permits were issued to anyone passing the strict government security test. Travel to California, Oregon, and Washington was prohibited. Internees, usually sponsored by host church groups and sympathetic organizations, gradually began their exodus to the world outside the camps.
In January 1943 the U.S. War Department announced that Japanese American volunteers would be accepted for combat duty in Europe. Most of the volunteers came from Hawaii, but there were also thousands who volunteered from within the concentration camps scattered throughout the country. The volunteers were assigned to a segregated Japanese American unit the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The 442nd became the most decorated American unit, for its size and length of service, to fight in World War II.
In January 1944 the Selective Service System started drafting Japanese American men, even though they were still incarcerated in the camps. More than 33,000 Japanese Americans eventually served in the U.S. armed forces, and many families lost their sons "for much longer than the duration."
By January 1945 the U.S. Supreme Court had declared that the confinement of the Japanese Americans in the camps was a violation of constitutional rights. The dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to a close in August 1945, but the last concentration camp was not closed until October 1946 and the last special internment camp, until 1952. Released and free, many Japanese Americans were determined to compensate for their "guilt" of being Japanese in a society of "Americans." Most left and resettled in the Rocky Mountain, Middle Western, and Eastern states. These areas provided opportunities and challenges that were unavailable on the West Coast.
Restrictions prohibiting Japanese Americans from returning to the West Coast states were lifted in July 1945, but the nagging shame of being a "Jap" continued. Assimilation into the larger society nearly became an obsession in the early postwar days. Japanese Americans faced continued discrimination and prejudice.
Despite their quest to be accepted and become part of the larger American society the need for separate ethnic Japanese churches continued. Denominational leaders insisted that segregated Japanese ethnic churches would be unnecessary after the war, because the Issei would be declining in number, and the Nisei and Sansei (third generation) would be assimilating. The existence of ethnic Japanese churches persisted, however.
Japanese American congregationalism
In the weeks and months after the closing of the camps the West Coast Japanese Congregational churches and parsonages were converted into hostels for the homeless returnees and their families. As the Issei and Niseistruggled to find homes and jobs amid hostilities, Japanese Congregational churches struggled to reactivate their ministries. Denominational leaders encouraged integration with the larger existing white churches or the establishment of interdenominational Japanese churches. Many felt that weak, small, and separate denominational churches were not feasible.
At first, the Bay Area Japanese Christian churches in California came together for Sunday worship services. Children were sent to neighboring churches for Sunday schools. By June 1946, however, after realizing that many Japanese Congregational children and adults were not attending Sunday schools and Sunday services, Sycamore Congregational Church broke away from the interdenominational group. The church reestablished itself as an independent Congregational church.
In Fresno the two Japanese churches remained divided. The Methodist Judicatory felt that the Japanese churches should come together under the care of the Methodist church, whereas the Congregational Conference felt the union should be under the Congregational church. An agreement was never reached.
Many Japanese pastors felt that integration into white churches was impossible. Even if it were possible for some Nisei to integrate, the action was unnecessary. "In Fresno, for years and years, the Germans and Armenians had their own churches and prospered." The Japanese could do the same.
In southern California the Montebello Plymouth, Hollywood Independent, San Diego Ocean View, and Los Angeles Union churches reported similar postwar struggles. The Santa Barbara Congregational Church, used during the war by the United Women's group as a hostel for the elderly, resumed its services with a handful of returnees in 1948.
In 1946 the first and only Middle West/East postwar Japanese Congregational church was begun. A church was organized in Chicago, an area where the largest settlement of Japanese Americans was located. At first, the church comprised an all-Issei membership, beginning in the North Side apartment of Otokichi Kushino.
Although Chicago Nisei were visiting predominantly white churches in the area, most were unchurched. Clearly, the Nisei were not ready to conform totally to an all-white church, nor were such churches ready to take in people of another race.
In 1947 the concern for these unchurched Nisei came to the attention of the Chicago Congregational Union, and with the support of the Chicago Missionary Society the Issei-Nisei Congregational Church was established in 1948. The name of the church was later changed to Chicago Christ Church United Church of Christ.
Financial support for all Japanese Congregational churches was provided by the Board for Home Mission's special funds.
The work was subsidized by the Committee for War Victims and Reconstruction for use in the reestablishment of Japanese churches.
With the exception of the Santa Barbara Congregational Church, which was dissolved in 1968, church membership grew. Once again, churches became the focal point for the Issei and Nisei. The Issei had carried the full burden of the churches for many years. During this period they began to relinquish their leadership roles to the Nisei. More Sansei were born, and Sunday schools began to flourish. Junior high and senior high Pilgrim Fellowship groups were organized.
In their pursuit to become "Americanized" during the postwar era, many Japanese joined Christian churches. It was believed that "Christianity not only will develop the Japanese American's character, but also will Americanize it," creating, "a one-world attitude," It was felt that with "Christianization will come integration in its good time."
The United Church of Christ
In 1957 the Congregational Christian Churches united with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ. That was also the year when the housing ordinance that limited people of color including Japanese Americans from moving into the suburbs was lifted. As a result, many Japanese Americans, seeking better living conditions and better education for their children, moved to the suburbs. They continued to return every Sunday, however, to their home churches for worship. Within the United Church of Christ the word Japanese was dropped from the name of almost all the churches, The exception was the Fresno Japanese Congregational United Church of Christ.
Advocacy to integrate with predominantly white churches continued. Denominational leaders pushed integration and neglected the historical legacy of racial discrimination against Japanese Americans. But most of the Japanese Congregational churches remained ethnic Japanese congregations within the United Church of Christ.
In the 1960s the civil rights movement and the development of ethnic studies programs throughout the country gave birth to the emergence of a new generation of Japanese leaders the Sansei. In the following decade theSansei wrestled with issues of their identity as Japanese Americans. The 1970s were wrought with the drive to uncover a buried past.
Within the life of the United Church of Christ new questions were raised. By 1973 two laywomen from Sycamore United Church of Christ, Julia Estrella and Mary Tomita, had begun the groundwork for gathering and organizing leaders of other Pacific Island and Asian American UCC churches. The women encouraged dialogue with denominational leaders. The Pacific and Asian American Ministries of the United Church of Christ (PAAM) was formed in 1974, and in the years since then the three generations of Japanese Americans women and men, youth and adults, clergy and laity have been elected to serve on conference and national committees. By 1983 two Japanese Americans were conference ministers and two, staff members of UCC instrumentalities.
Japanese American UCC churches played an important role in raising the consciousness of contemporary Americans about the injustice done to Japanese American citizens during World War II. After President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 96 317, creating a Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Act, the Board of Missions of Sycamore United Church of Christ, El Cerrito, California, identified redress/reparations as one of its major emphases for 1980. Motivated by theological and biblical reflections on justice, wrongdoing, and repentance, the Board sought to educate clergy and laity within the United Church of Christ on the work of the Commission. Its mandate was to hear from those affected by Executive Order 9066. the 1942 Presidential proclamation that authorized the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans. The Commission was charged with determining whether wartime imprisonment of civilians was just and, if not, what Congress should do to compensate those who were incarcerated.
On January 6, 1981, a resolution was adopted by the Church Council of Sycamore Church. The resolution included support for monetary compensation as well as the concern for the education of the community and church persons with regard to redress/reparations. By May 16, 1981, the resolution was presented to and adopted by the Northern California Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Two months later the resolution was presented to delegates at the Thirteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, in Rochester, New York. After some discussion the resolution strengthened by action taken in a working committee was adopted by an overwhelming majority.
As a result of the General Synod action the United Church of Christ began to move forward in its efforts to provide testimony at scheduled public hearings of the Commission. In subsequent hearings Miya Okawara, Chairperson of the Board of Missions at Sycamore Congregational Church, testified in San Francisco; Yvonne Delk, Executive Director of the Office for Church in Society, and Garry Oniki, Associate Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society of Chicago, testified in Chicago; and Howard Spragg, Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, testified in New York.
In its report, Personal Justice Denied, released in June 1983, the Commission recognized the evacuation/incarceration as a "grave injustice" and conceded that there was "no military justification for the exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast." Throughout the duration of the Commission's work the United Church of Christ, through its various agencies and instrumentalities, was clear in its support for redress! reparations.
Sho-Chiku-Bai is a phrase often used by children and adults in the Japanese community. Sho is the Japanese word for pine; chiku, the word for bamboo; and bai, the word for plum blossom.
The Issei, like the pine, demonstrated their remarkable strength during the early years of migration and settlement. Prevented from becoming American citizens and unable legally to own land, the issei survived a history steeped in rejection, antagonism, and racism.
The Nisei, like the bamboo, showed their amazing durability. Uprooted and with their lives disrupted, the nisei survived the tragic years of incarceration during World War II in ten concentration camps scattered throughout the United States.
The Sansei, like the plum blossom, signal the beginning of something new. Heirs to the struggle of the Issei and Nisei, the Sansei have brought new strength and vitality to the life of the community.
The pine symbolizes strength; the bamboo, durability; and the plum blossom, newness. In one sense to speak of sho-chiku-bai is to speak of the three generations that make up the Japanese American presence within the United Church of Christ.
Clifford Alika is the Executive Secretary of the Pacific and Asian American Center for Theology and Strategies, Berkeley, California. He is also an assistant for the Racial Ethnic Ministries, Golden Gate Mission Area, Synod of the Pacific, Presbyterian Church (USA), El Cerrito, California. Miya Okawara is a member of the Sycamore United Church of Christ, El Cerrito, California. She is a member of the Pacific/Asian-American Ministries and is on the staff of the Northern California Conference, UCC.
1. Jerome Dean Davis, A Sketch in the Life of Rev. Joseph Hardy Neesima (Kyoto, Japan: Doshisha University, 1890). Also see Gary Otis, A History of Christianity in Japan (Japan: Charles E. Tuttle, Co., 1976), pp. 114-18.
2. Genkichi Imaizumi, Miyamo, Konichi and His Times, trans. the Rev. Sumio Koga (Japan: Mikuni Press, 1940).
4. Sumia Koga, A Centennial Legacy: History of the Japanese Christian Mission in North America (Chicago: Nobart Publishing, 1977), pp. 10-23, 36 37, 66, 192, and 299.
6. Ibid. It is important to note that these churches represent the history of Japanese American Congregationalists outside of Hawaii. For this book it was necessary to limit the scope of this history primarily to the West Coast states.
7. Correspondence from Hiro Katayama to Harley H. Gill, April 8, 1949.
8. The History of Sycamore Church: 1904 1974 Seventh Anniversary Year (El Cerrito, CA: Church History Committee, November 1974).
10. Sohei Kowata, 85th Anniversary of Protestant Work Amongst Japanese in North America (Japan, n.d.), pp. 7 22, 54, 56, 137, and 146.
12. Roy Sano, "A Neglected Past: In Celebration of the 1977 Centennial Challenge." Available through PACTS, 1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709.
13. First Japanese Congregational Church: 1907 1957 Fifteenth Anniversary (Japanese Congregational Church of San Diego, 1957).
14. Bill Hosokawa, Nisei: The Quiet Americans (New York: William Morrow Co., 1969). pp. 114-32.
15. PAAM Newsletter, c/a 20 Woodside Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127.
16. The Japanese Incarceration: A Case for Redress, 3d ed. (The National Committee for Redress, Japanese American Citizens League, May 1980).
17. Harlan Hague, Christian Seed in Western Soil (Berkeley, CA: Pacific School of Religion, 1965), p. 124.
18. Lester Suzuki, Ministry in the Assembly and Relocation Centers of World War II(Berkeley, CA: Yardbird Publishing Co., 1979), pp. 329-30.
19. Minutes, Sixth General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches of the United States, Durham, NH, June 18, 1942; item #44.
20. Eleanor Breed, "War Comes to the Church Door: Diary of a Church Secretary in Berkeley, California, April 20 May 1, 1942."
21. Ibid., p. 89.
22. In ibid.
23. Margaret Dumas, "Reflections on Life in the Camps" (San Francisco: Northern California Conference, UCC, May 6, 1982).
24. "A Statement to Japanese Friends and Fellow Americans" (Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Fellowship of Churches and First Congregational Church of Berkeley, April 14, 1942).
26. Sycamore Congregational Church 75th Anniversary.
27. Joseph K. Fukushima, "Report of Findings of Fresno Congregational Church" (N.D.).
28. Le Roy E. Eide, "Congregational Church of San Mateo, UCC" (n.d.). Information on other churches was not available. Some references were made to Independent Congregational Church, Oakland and the Japanese Congregational Church, Fresno in minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Northern California Congregational Conference (March 10, 1942; May 2, 1942; May 25, 1942; and September 14, 1943).
29. Koga, op. cit., p. 299.
Written by Barbara Brown Zikmund and Sally A. Dries
Feminist historians have noted that the ways in which events and trends are grouped in popular history relies on male experience and often fails to reflect the impact that the same events have on women's development. Hence in American history, materials are grouped into the pre-Revolutionary War period, and antebellum period (before the Civil War), and the post-World War II period. History becomes a series of periods between wars. And wars are nothing but disruptive and destructive interludes between those periods.
Recent research, however, is pointing out the importance of war in the history of women. It now appears that wars are periods of significant advances for women. During wars the regular patterns of family and social life are disrupted. Men go off to battle and women are left to take on many new responsibilities. Instead of being periods of decline and interruption, for women, wartime provides advancement and opportunity. It is no accident, therefore, that the organizational foundations for many of the women's boards ~nd societies in American church life were laid during the years surrounding the Civil War.
One woman noted that the Civil War "had much to do with breaking up the crust of public opinion" against independent organizations for women.
In the country's hour of desperate need it had welcomed women into the camp hospital. They had gone to the front in some cases with their husbands, and lived intents, serving the wounded, or later been with their husbands at the front during the reconstruction period. They had prepared bandages at home and stepped out from the routine of homemaking to wider interests and experiences. So now, when the war was over they were ready to go on to new and vaster fields of opportunity. 
But it was not easy. Patterns of female subordination and auxiliary organizations pervaded the first half of the nineteenth century. Such women as Catherine Beecher had argued eloquently that heaven appointed women to a "subordinate station." Woman's mode of gaining influence in the world was not any less important, but her "exercising of power should be altogether different and peculiar. . . . Woman is to win every thing by peace and love; by making herself so much respected and loved, that to yield to her opinions and to gratify her wishes, will be the free-will offering of the heart." And it was all to be accomplished in the domestic and social circle.
This attitude had been deeply internalized by many churchwomen. So much so that historians can document a "feminization" of the churches during the first half of the nineteenth century. Women, who made up the bulk of the laity in the churches, cultivated an interpretation of Christ that emphasized meekness, love, humility, and forgiveness. The prestige of the clergy declined, and popular religion focused on activities that were a natural extension of the role of wife and mother 
Women who wanted to organize independent clubs, boards, or societies, especially in the churches, were not encouraged. Many years later an active churchwoman remembered:
It is difficult in these days to realize how much opposition existed toward any such independent organization of women. Probably it would have been impossible because of this general attitude of mind to have undertaken any common effort earlier than this . It was not supposed that women were capable of doing such work outside the home. The idea of their conducting a business, keeping books, or carrying on the work of a large organization was unheard of. 
Many mid-nineteenth-century Christians found it difficult to overcome their conviction that it was improper for a woman to offer prayer in public or to stand on a platform and preside over a meeting where men were present. After the Civil War, however, these attitudes began to change.
By the end of the century, women in most of the denominations that eventually came together to form the United Church of Christ had organized significant i ndependent women's boards and societies which were totally managed and supported by women. How did this come about?
Early Missionary Organizations
In 1800 Mary Webb became personally concerned about the mission outreach of American Christians. She gathered together some Congregational and Baptist women to found the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes. Soon thereafter women in many places formed what were known as "female cent societies" to raise money for mission. The idea was that any woman could save one cent a week if she denied herself some little thing. Building on the parable of the widow's mite, churchwomen believed that their small contributions could make a big difference. And from this beginning a pattern of "auxiliary mission societies" was established.
When four young college students responded to the rising global consciousness of American churches to found the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), in 1810, the women cooperated. The American Board, as it came to be called, was the major ecumenical missionary society of mainline Protestantism until the mid-nineteenth century. It channeled the monies of the "female societies" and received sizable bequests and legacies from committed Christian women. By 1839 the Board's annual report showed that approximately 680 local "ladies' associations" were at work collecting funds for foreign missions. 
In the early days the American Board thought that single women should not be sent out as missionaries. Only if a woman was married could she be commissioned as a full-fledged missionary. In time this pattern changed. Letters from the missionaries' wives raised the awareness of the Board about "the degradation and deprivations of native women and girls in non-Christian cultures." Public opinion came to realize that only single women, free from the obligations of home and family, could respond to the need. The entire mission enterprise was at stake, because women were a "great hindrance to the conversion of men." 
An ABCFM missionary from China, the Rev. David Abeel, was eventually convinced that the slow progress of mission work in China was largely owing to the lack of work among women. Abeel argued that "more than half of the women of the world were held in Oriental seclusion. They were unwelcomed at birth, married in childhood to men they had never seen, and shut away from all possible teaching except that of their husbands or of other women." He obtained permission to come home. After stopping in London, where his appeal helped to organize the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East, he made his plea for women's work among American women. The results were limited, but the record shows that the First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, founded a local women's missionary society in 1838. Almost thirty years later, in 1861, females of six denominations organized the Women's Union Missionary Society in New York. 
Not until after the Civil War did the argument for women's work and the organizational climate for independent women's societies and boards in many denominations lead to the formation of separate mission boards for women. From that time on women's work in American churches had new vitality and life.
Independent Congregational Woman's Boards
In 1868 a Mrs. Bowker, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, developed a plan to encourage women in the missionary endeavor. She called a meeting of women to hear statements by returned missionaries regarding the "degradation and wretchedness of heathen women." Under her guidance two committees were formed to write a constitution and to consult with representatives of the American Board. The Board believed that a woman's society could "co-operate with theirs, availing itself of their long experience, and avoiding at the same time the perplexing details incident to an independent organization." On the surface it sounded like another auxiliary, but the result came to involve women quite differently in the mission enterprise.
Early reports of the Woman's Board of Missions (WBM) emphasized the indirect power of Christian women.
Under Paganism, woman is a cipher. Hence the labor of Christian women, both in schools and visitations, assumes in the minds of heathen men a humble character. It neither stirs pride nor gives occasion for alarm; and the benevolence that prompts it disarms opposition. Our work is among the women; to teach them that they are of importance and interest to Jesus, if not recognized by their own households - that they have souls, and that there is a Saviour and a heaven for them. This wonderful news, once received and believed, spreads with lightning-like rapidity from one to another, arousing an eager desire for knowledge. Christ, accepted, brings a gentle refinement that unconsciously ennobles the recipient; and the men, too, are blest, before they have thought to recognize the cause.
Within a year of the founding of the WBM in Boston a similar organization took root in the Middle West. Late in 1868 the secretary of the ABCFM spoke to a group of Chicago women and shared his enthusiasm for woman's boards. "The question may be asked," he said, "Why not act directly through the American Board?" The reply was that women could be brought into more immediate, closer personal relations to the work by taking on themselves a part and by entering into correspondence with the missionary women in the field. "Ladies will write to each other as they will not write to me, do the best I can to win their confidence. . . . The vivacity, the touching incidents, the free, hearty expression of their thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows, they reserve for their own sex." The women were convinced and the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior (WBMI), with headquarters in Chicago, came into being. 
Congregational connections to the growing frontier settlements of the West and of the Pacific Islands led to the founding of two more women's boards within five years. In 1871 the Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific Islands (WBMPI) was organized in Hawaii by a female missionary on furlough from Micronesia. In 1873 a small group of Congregational women met in Santa Cruz, California, to mobilize women's resources throughout the western states and territories in a Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific (WBMP). Although the boards back east objected to these organizations, because they were "so far from the centers of civilization," the California women argued that this was exactly the reason they needed to be an independent board. Furthermore, they were "the natural gateway to Japan, China, the myriad islands of the seas and the infant missions of Mexico." 
Early on all the woman's boards adopted some important principles that shaped their work: First, they existed primarily to serve the needs of women. They supported women missionaries in the field who were single and encouraged the employment of competent, native "Bible women." Second, they sought funds in such a way so as not to diminish contributions to the American Board. They made it a policy, however, to raise money one year and spend it the next year. This way they always knew the limits of their resources. Third, their support was personal. Branches were encouraged to "adopt" specific missionaries and to "pledge" to specific projects. Fourth, they did everything in their power to keep administrative overhead low, relying on "unpaid, freely given labor." 
In the fifty to sixty years of their independent work three of these women's boards (WUM, WBMI, and WBMP) contributed over 20 percent of the total receipts of the American Board. In 1927 these three woman's boards were reunited with the American Board and have continued as part of the United Church Board for World Ministries since the formation of the United Church of Christ. The WBMPI continues its independent existence in close relationship with the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ. The Christian denomination had its origins in the American zeal to overcome past divisions and organizations and get back to the basics. Christians were in New England, North Carolina, and Virginia and on the Appalachian frontier well before 1800, but they were reluctant to organize. One historian wrote:
Remember that many years passed before the Christians pretended to organize like other denominations, and then ensued a period when energy was largely absorbed with church building and controversy over sectarian, theological, and metaphysical subjects. Combatting error was deemed almost paramount to declaring the truth. 
The Christians did eventually organize and embark on enterprises to share the truth.
Regional mission societies for "home" work were operating by the 1820s to help organize new churches, but not until 1854 was a national Board of Home and Foreign Missions elected and not until after the Civil War did the denomination have a national missionary department with a full-time secretary. 
This delay in organizing did not prevent women from becoming involved in the leadership of Christian churches. Women preachers and evangelists were an important chapter in the early history of the Christian denomination. Also, records of local women's organizations for mission in New York and Michigan during the 1850s have been found. Perhaps the lack of a national denominational organization actually helped the cause of women, because there were few structures through which to formalize masculine control.
Before long, however, men and women alike were advocating a "woman's board." And in 1886, at the quadrennial session of the American Christian Convention, held at New Bedford, Massachusetts, the Woman's Board for Foreign Missions was elected. Four years later, in 1890, at Marion, Indiana, the women of the Convention organized a Woman's Board for Home Missions. 
What these Boards, together with the Conference Boards and local societies with their constituents, have done for the missionary interests of our denomination would fill a volume.... Suffice it to say that they have not worked to "be seen of men," but "He who seeth in secret" will reward them openly. 
When the Congregational Churches and the Christian Churches came together in 1931 to form the Congregational Christian Churches, the women's boards of the Christian Churches became part of the world and home mission boards of the new denomination. Together with their Congregational sisters, Christian women were guaranteed one-third female representation on the governing boards of these significant structures for mission and outreach.
Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod (Reformed)
The first missionary society in the Reformed Church in the United States was created in 1826 by the Synod of Frederick, Maryland. An auxiliary Female Missionary Society apparently came into being at the same time, but its activities were strictly local. In 1838, when the Synod organized a foreign board it decided to carry out its work through the same interdenominational American Board that served the Congregationalists. The arrangement was a happy one. German Reformed money and missionaries worked through the American Board for twenty-five years.
After the Civil War, however, in 1866, the Reformed Church in the United States decided to seek its own mission field and establish an independent mission board. In 1873 a Board of Foreign Missions was organized, with special commitments to sponsor mission work in Japan. 
The involvement of women in these developments was minimal. Women in the German Reformed churches were "at that time completely unorganized, and we might say completely uninterested." The records show, however, that in 1869 a Rev. S.B. Yockey made an appeal to the Ohio Synod that the church should organize women for missions. This appeal was the beginning, although the suggestion did not "take root in the extremely conservative soil of our Reformed denomination." 
Women's work in the Reformed Church eventually took shape. Much of its strength resulted from the tireless work of Samuel Yockey's wife, Elvira Beilhartz Yockey. Elvira Yockey was raised a Methodist, but on her marriage she embraced the Reformed tradition. She became convinced that women had a special responsibility for mission and could not understand how the church could revolve around Christ and yet have so little zeal in carrying out Christ's final command to share the faith.
Reformed women had served the churches through "aid societies," whose chief aim was to raise money to help their own congregations. Contributions to mission were "incidental." Looking back many years later Elvira Yockey wrote: "Women's Missionary Societies as they now exist whose exclusive aim was to work for missions, not only in raising money, but in creating sentiment, in educating and training the women and children along the lines of missionary activity, were unknown." She wanted her church to follow the example of women in other denominations and organize for mission. She wanted to release the energies of women for the gospel. 
The women were expected to "keep silence in the churches." Their voices were never heard even in public prayer, and to this day in most of the prayer meetings of the church the number of audible prayers is limited to the number of men present. How much the church owes to the number of silent prayers that ascend heavenward from feminine hearts, can never be known. 
But the idea of a woman's society had little favor among the older members of the congregation. Elvira Yockey continued to promote the idea in her husband's church. Frequent mention from the pulpit and in "social intercourse" of the benefits that other denominations were deriving from woman's work in missionary societies brought about a gradual change in sentiment. Finally, in 1877, the Woman's Missionary Society of the First Reformed Church of Xenia, Ohio, came into being. It was the beginning. 
Elvira Yockey wrote many letters and encouraged other churches to found societies. "There were no precedents to follow, no model constitutions, no prepared programs or books of study.... The presidents were compelled to do almost all the work, not because our women were unwilling, but because they were timid and untrained,"(28) In 1883 the first public recognition of women's work was made by the Pittsburgh Synod, and in 1887 the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod was organized at Akron, Ohio.  By the second triennial meeting of the Society,
many who had opposed or failed to encourage the movement became convinced that the work was for and from God. The unwomanly aggressiveness which some feared was entirely absent. There was no spirit of self seeking, no effort to adopt masculine methods, or usurp masculine prerogative, but only an intensely earnest desire to have some part in the evangelization of the world. This earnestness, as is usually the case in the best type of womanhood, went hand in hand with a persistence that admitted no denial. 
From these beginnings the national society came to publish The Woman's Journal and by 1914 to establish a national Philadelphia office. In 1923 the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod supported three full-time staff members.  As the Society approached its fiftieth anniversary, in 1937, conversations commenced with the women of the Evangelical Synod of North America. Soon thereafter, in 1939, the Woman's Missionary Society of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Women's Union of the Evangelical Synod of North America formed the Women's Guild of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. 
Evangelical Women's Union
During the years when Congregational, Christian, and Reformed women were creating national organizations for women, women in German Evangelical churches were preoccupied with the local needs of their congregations. This preoccupation is understandable, considering the fact that Evangelical churches were the last of the four denominations that merged to form the United Church of Christ to organize nationally. In the late nineteenth century many German immigrants were still tied to their European roots and slow to develop an American ecclesiastical loyalty. The Evangelical Synod of North America did not come into being until 1877. Therefore, that a national organization for Evangelical women was not created until 1921 was not surprising.
Once again, wartime experience—this time World War I—prompted women to seek more independence and gave them confidence in their abilities. One woman wrote:
"Every cloud has a silver lining," says the optimist and our "silver lining" lay hidden in the black cloud of the world war. In those days organized effort was a necessity. Community, fraternal and church organizations found a common cause and vied in ardor and zeal. Our constituency [Evangelical women] did its part. Red Cross reports showed Evangelical women in the front ranks. That was therefore the psychological moment.... [Women] saw the opportunity and seized it by sending a plea to the General Conference, convening in the city of Pittsburgh, September, 1917, asking them to federate the Evangelical womanhood. Statistics of the Red Cross Society showed that the organized women of our church could be made a power. 
A convention was called at Cincinnati, Ohio, June 29-30, 1921, and the National Union of Evangelical Women was born. The Union did not limit its membership or the types of activities it supported. It "chose to include ALL women's societies within the Church and to incorporate ALL branches of the denomination in its program."  Yet the organization of a national union was a radical step in the eyes of some.
In the Evangelical Year-Book for 1923 a seven-page article appeared entitled "The Call of the Church to Her Women," which defended the legitimacy of women's work in the church. The author admitted that the new organization was an innovation, but the church does not need to fear innovation when it "can be shown to square with reason and conscience and the Word of God." The call of the church to these women had in "back of it the whole age-old force of religious tradition from the very beginnings of the human race." After spelling out the power of these traditions the article closed with conviction.
It is not only lawful for her [the church] to call upon her army of devoted and earnest women to render what service they are able to perform, it is her sacred duty to do so, and to organize them so that they may be able to do the work to which they are best suited in the most effective manner. 
Evangelical women had always been loyal in assuming responsibilities and meeting the needs of the local church. Now they were invited to move beyond home and congregation to support programs for the Synod and for the "Kingdom-at-large." In so doing they would become acquainted with one another and better understand the program of their denomination. 
The organization was a success. In 1923 the name was changed to the Evangelical Women's Union. Soon thereafter the Board of Directors began issuing a "Monthly Program," with topics and suggested activities for women's groups. As the years went by the programs of the Union affected the lives of women in many ways. By 1936 its work was carried out through six departments: education, devotional life, missionary education, stewardship (including the thank offering), social welfare, and citizenship. It was an impressive record. 
Once the Evangelical and Reformed Church had been consummated the Evangelical women moved with confidence toward merger with their Reformed sisters. They believed that the Evangelical Women's Union had "proven herself a faithful and fruitful 'Handmaid' of the Church, locally and inter-denominationally." In the coming merger they prayed that it would continue to be a blessing. 
The Success of Women's Work for Women
The development of these independent women's mission boards did three things for women and the churches: (1) It transformed the mission consciousness of the churches, (2) it improved the situation of the women involved, and (3) it created a climate that supported the advancement of women and the ecumenical movement. The personal involvement of women in the mission movement was its great strength. The women demonstrated repeatedly "the power of small offerings frequently collected from large numbers of contributors." Whereas the general mission boards asked for large contributions, "the women asked for two cents per week—asked it from door to door; devised mite boxes, formed small local circles, held frequent meetings, looked after children, old women, poor people, hand-picked their own fruit, and astonished the world with their success." 
Furthermore, the women developed a new style of missionary literature. Historically, missionary literature had consisted of annual reports, anniversary sermons, and missionary biographies. In contrast, the women prepared low-cost materials that appealed to women and children. They overwhelmed the missionary ignorance of the churches with leaflets, stories, poems, and summaries that could be bought for a few cents or even given away. "These light troops could penetrate where the more ponderous forces never would be moved, and so began the great popularization of missions." 
The active and personal involvement of women in this work not only assisted the mission cause but also enriched the women themselves, "These women could never have learned so much had they merely turned their money over to others to administer." Rather they took on heavy responsibilities and the necessity for decision and initiative. They were "in touch with great things, they saw and knew the women missionaries going out to the field, they became their personal friends, they were aware of international problems and movements." Their organizations became training schools for thousands of women throughout the land. 
An argument can be made that the women's mission boards were an important step in the secular movement to expand woman's role in American society and to push American Protestants into the ecumenical movement. Women's organizations for missions were the first women's clubs specifically to send out help to other women. This experience built networks of support and raised consciousness about women's problems. As the years went by simple mission piety changed to feminist consciousness, Words like foreign and heathen disappeared from the annual reports. The word ladies was changed to women. Women placed increasing emphasis on cooperation, internationalism, interdenominationalism, and unification.
In 1888 women from the United States and Canada joined with British women to create the first international ecumenical missionary agency intended to be universal in scope-the World's Missionary Committee of Christian Women. Despite strong denominational pressures to organize separately the women "kept their sense of solidarity and conversed, discussed, corresponded, and acted together." Working through ecumenical councils, federations, and committees they invited all Christians to pray together and share responsibility for the work of the church. They were extremely successful. The Sunday School Union, the World Day of Prayer, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Cooperating Committee for Women's Christian Colleges in Foreign Fields, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Committee on Christian Literature for Women and Children in Mission Fields, and Church Women United are only a few of the ecumenical ventures that grew out of these independent missionary organizations for women. 
Women's work and woman's boards are a unique chapter in the history of women and the United Church of Christ.
Barbara Brown Zikmund was president of Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She is a member of the UCC Historical Council. Sally A. Dries is the pastor of Salem UCC, Shamokin, Pennsylvania. She was formerly Director of the Ecumenical Women's Center, Chicago.
1. Grace T. Davis, Neighbors in Christ: Fifty-Eight Years of World Service by the Woman's Board of Missions of the Interior (Chicago: James Watson and Co., 1926), p. 7.
2. Catherine Beecher, An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism with reference to the Duty of American Females (Philadelphia: Henry Perkins, 1837), pp. 99-103, quoted in Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rosemary Skinner Keller, eds., Women in Religion in America: The Nineteenth Century, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981], p. 311.
3. See Barbara Welter, "The Feminization of American Religion, 1800-1860" in Dimity Convictions (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1976), p. 91, and Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Knopf, 1977).
4. Davis, op. cit., p. 6.
5, R. Pierce Beaver, American Protestant Women in World Mission: A History of the First Feminist Movement in North America, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), pp. 14-16.
6. Fred Field Goodsell, You Shall Be My Witnesses (Boston: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1959], pp. 154-55. See also William E. Strong, The Story of the American Board (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1910).
7. Goodsell, op. cit., pp. 156-57.
8. Grace T. Davis, "History of Congregational Women's Societies" in Matthew Spinka, ed., A History of Illinois Congregational and Christian Churches (Chicago: Congregational and Christian Conference of Illinois, 1944), pp. 208-9.
9. First Annual Report of the Woman's Board of Missions: Presented at Its Annual Meeting in the Mount Vernon Church, Boston, January 5, 1869 (Boston: George C. Rand and Avery, 1869), pp. 4-5.
10. Third Annual Report of the Woman's Board of Missions: Presented at Its Annual Meeting in the Mount Vernon Church, Boston, January 3,1871 (Boston: Rand, Avery and Frye, 1871), p. 9.
11. Davis, Neighbors in Christ, op. cit., p. 9.
12. Albertine Loomis, To All People: A History of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ (Kingsport, TN: Kingsport Press, 1970), pp. 380-81.
13. History of Fifty Years: Woman's Board of Missions for the Pacific and Program of Jubilee Meetings (San Francisco: n. p., 1923], pp. 11-12.
14. Goodsell, op. cit., pp. 161-64.
15. Ibid., pp. 167-73.
16. Milo True Morrill, A History of the Christian Denomination in America: 1794-1911 (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, 1912), p. 246.
17. Ibid., p. 251.
18. John Franklin Burnett, Early Women of the Christian Church: Heroines All, Booklet Six (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, N.D.). See also Barbara Brown Zikmund, "Abigail Roberts: 'Female Laborer' in the Christian Churches," Historical Intelligencer 2, no. 1 (Fall 1982): 3-9.
19. Alice V. Morrill, "Our Women's Work" in J. Pressley Barrett, ed., The Centennial of Religous Journalism, 2d ed. (Dayton, OH: Christian Publishing Association, 1908), pp. 509-10.
20. Ibid., p. 510.
21. E. S. Yockey, Historical Sketch of the Origin and Growth of the Woman's Missionary Societies of the Reformed Church (Alliance, OH: The Women's Journal, 1898), p. 5.
22. Elizabeth T. Flynn, "Historical Sketch," The Outlook of Missions 13(May 1921):p. 230.
24. Yockey, op. cit., p. 4.
25. Ibid., p. 7.
28. Flynn, op. cit., p. 231.
29. Yockey, op. cit., pp. 8-9.
30. Ibid., pp. 17-18.
31. "The Woman's Missionary Society of General Synod," The Messenger, June 17, 1937, pp. 8-9.
32. Mrs. V. J. Bartell, "Highlights of the Merger Convention: The Ceremony of Merger"(mimeographed, n.p., N.D.).
33. Mrs. A. A. Sotier, The First Ten Years (n.p.: 1931), p. 2.
34. H. L. Streich, "For a Larger Service: Beginnings of the Organization" in Mrs. Hugo Schuessler, ed., Beginnings of the Evangelical Women's Union compiled for the Fifteenth Anniversary (St. Louis: Evangelical Women's Union, 1936), p. 6.
35. "The Call of the Church to Her Women," Evangelical Yearbook 1923, pp. 22-28.
36. Mrs. F. A. Keck, "Beginnings Reviewed by the First President," in Schuessler, op. cit., p. 4.
37. Streich, op. cit., p. 6.
38. Ibid., p. 8.
39. Helen Barrett Montgomery, Western Women in Eastern Lands (New York: Macmillan, 1914), p. 38.
40. Ibid., p. 39.
41. Davis, "History of Congregational Women's Societies," op. cit., p. 222.
42. Beaver, op. cit., pp. 145-50, and Davis, Neighbors in Christ, op. cit., pp. 200-5. See also Mrs. Fred S. Bennett et al., The Emergence of Interdenominational Organizations Among Protestant Church Women (New York: United Council of Church Women, 1944), and Gladys G. Calkins, Follow These Women: Church Women in the Ecumenical Movement (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A., 1961).
Written by The Rt. Rev. John Butosi
A Conference in the United Church of Christ is determined by its geographical boundaries—almost. The exception is the acting conference that is not even named a conference: the Calvin Synod. It is made up of Hungarian churches from Connecticut to Illinois, with most concentrated in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. These churches were originally part of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Later they joined the Reformed Church in the United States, and when the merged Evangelical and Reformed Church united with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Church of Christ, these Hungarian churches became part of the Calvin Synod. The history of these churches in American life is unique.
Hungarian emigration patterns
The Reformed Church in Hungary had a glorious past. The Protestant Reformation swept the country rapidly and early. By the end of the sixteenth century, Hungary was 90 percent Protestant, mainly Calvinist in theology and forms of worship. The Counter-Reformation, led by Jesuits and enforced by the Habsburg monarchy and the Hungarian nobility, recovered control for the Roman Catholic Church. More than four hundred Protestant pastors and teachers were imprisoned and tortured until they recanted. Only forty-one refused. These were marched to the Adriatic Sea and sold as galley slaves. From this life of horror they were finally ransomed through the intervention of Holland and Switzerland and given political asylum in those countries. The heroic witness of these pastors and teachers is commemorated in the "Hymn of the Hungarian Galley Slaves," found in all four hymnals currently in use in UCC congregations under the title "Lift Thy Head, O Zion, Weeping." 
Political and religious repression continued for almost two hundred years more, until World War I, when Hungary was finally separated from the Hapsburg monarchy. Out of this historic struggle for religious freedom in Hungary the Hungarian Reformed faith came to the United States. Political, social, and religious struggles continued into the twentieth century.
There were five waves of Hungarian emigration to America:
1. The first wave started after the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution, in 1849. In terms of numbers, this emigration was insignificant. 
2. The second wave was different. Immediately after the abolition of serfdom, before the depression of the 1870s, the rural-agrarian, landless proletariat found easy employment in Hungary. However, after 1870 the number of emigrants rose quickly. From 1850 to 1920 it is estimated that between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 people left Hungary. Many came to the United States. 
3. After World War I, Hungary tightened its emigration policy. As the state was consolidated, without minorities of significant size, the goal was to increase the population, and therefore the number of taxpayers, and to augment the state?s military force. From this viewpoint, emigration was a loss, and every emigrant was regarded as a traitor to the fatherland.
Also of significance is the fact that after World War I the United States shut the open door before the immigrants. A quota of only 473 was allotted to Hungary in the first quota law, and 865 on the basis of national origin. As a result of these rigid laws, both in Hungary and in the United States, the upper class and the Jews were represented above their proportion after World War I among the Hungarian immigrants to the United States. Imre de Josika-Herczeg calls this third wave of emigration ?one of artists and professional people.? 
4. During and after World War II (1941-50) more than one million people were forced, in one way or another, to leave Hungary.  Not counting those who perished in concentration or forced labor camps, or who returned to Hungary, or who renounced their Hungarian ethnic affiliation, the total of Hungarian Displaced Persons could not be estimated as more than 120,000 persons. The United States received a fair share of those who constituted a new type of Hungarian immigrant. These people, in contrast to other immigrants, did not leave the old country of their own free will; they had not intended to emigrate. They were ?forced emigrants,? ?refugees in spite of themselves,? who were put on the move mostly by political forces. As a group, they were less homogeneous than the previous waves. They came from all walks of life, and many nationalities, creeds, political confessions, and social classes were represented among them.
5. After the revolt of 1956 the most recent wave of Hungarian emigration left the country and was dispersed all over the world. Their number is estimated at 193,973 persons, of whom 35,705 arrived in the United States before September 30, 1957. 
Thus the five waves of Hungarian emigration, which reached U.S. shores after the abolition of serfdom in Hungary (1848), were (a) the so-called Kossuth emigration, which was politically motivated (1850?75); (b) the emigration of peasants for economic and social reasons (1876?1920); (c) the emigration of Jews and professionals between the two wars (1921?41); (d) the immigration of the so-called Displaced Persons during and after World War II (1941?50); and (e) the refugees of the 1956 revolt.
Reformed church life in America
About one fourth of the population of Hungary and about one fourth of the Hungarian immigrants to the United States were adherents of the Reformed faith. Early attempts to organize Reformed churches, however, were unsuccessful.
The first Hungarian Reformed Church service in the United States was conducted on April 13, 1852, by Gedeon Acs, chaplain to Louis Kossuth, hero of Hungary?s War of Independence against Austria in 1848. When Kossuth was brought to the United States on a U.S. warship and addressed both Houses of Congress, he was welcomed as a great freedom fighter. Enthusiastic women, organized by Mary Day of New York City, provided enough money to pay for this early "international" ministry, but with Kossuth?s departure Acs was forced to discontinue his work, and in 1860 he himself returned to Hungary. 
In 1881 Francis Kecskemethy, with the aid of the New York Presbytery (Presbyterian Church in the United States of America), started Hungarian Reformed services in New York City, but his work gradually diminished to such an extent that he too returned to Hungary. Nevertheless, Kecskemethy?s undertaking showed that the Presbyterian Church in the USA was the first denomination in the New World to aid church work among Hungarian Reformed people. 
After such sporadic and futile beginnings, church life started among Hungarians only when the agrarian proletariat and small landholders reached U.S. shores in great numbers. At first, these immigrants met for worship in each others? homes, but when baptisms, weddings, or funeral services were needed, they had to turn to various American clergy, because there were no Hungarian pastors among them. Consequently, certain American ministers began to take special interest in these people, especially those ministers who spoke German. Many Hungarians also spoke German and thus communications could be established. Historians emphasize the fact that ?the earliest organization of Hungarian immigrants were the fraternal societies formed for mutual help, protection in case of death, injury or unemployment."  To organize such a society was an exciting undertaking for these people: It bound them together by voluntary decisions, provided them "decent Christian burial," and even met some of their religious needs, such as hymn singing and prayer. But one thing the society could not give—the sacrament of Holy Communion. For these Hungarians, taking communion at the six established occasions of the year was crucial. They had to go to the "sanctuary" or, if they had none, to the ones they considered "Reformed."
German Reformed relationships
On several occasions a group of Hungarian Reformed people visited a German Reformed church to take communion. In February 1890, at the Seventh (German) Reformed Church of Cleveland, Ohio, where the Rev. J.H.C. R?ntgen was the pastor, a group of Hungarian immigrants arrived, saying, "Wir sind Ungarn und wolle zum Abendemahl geh?n. Wir, reformiert."  ("We are Hungarians, and we want Holy Communion. We are Reformed.") About the same time in historic Grace Reformed Church, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Dr. John H. Prough was the pastor, the same thing happened. These pastors reported their experiences to their classes. [The "classis" is a regional jurisdiction in some U.S. Reformed churches. The plural is "classes."]
Because the Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States was also aware of the problem, when the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States met in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in the late spring of 1890, three separate recommendations of the Westmoreland Classis, the Pittsburgh Synod, and the Board of Home Missions asked the General Synod "to take action toward supplying the Hungarians and Germans ... with the Gospel." 
Correspondence with Hungarian church authorities started immediately, and in the same year the Rev. Gustav Juranyi was secured as the first missionary to the Hungarian immigrants in the United States. On January 1, 1891, he was commissioned by the Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States to organize the first Hungarian Reformed congregation in America. Soon a second missionary was secured in the person of the Rev. John Kovacs, who was commissioned on July 1, 1891, for Pittsburgh, where the first church building was erected, dedicating it on October 23, 1892.
In two years Kovacs organized seventeen congregations, with a total of 1,500 members, and a third missionary had to be called to be his assistant..  Thus in 1896 there were six centers of missionary activities: Cleveland, with the Rev. Alexander Harsanyi; Pittsburgh, with the Rev. F. Ferenczy; South Norwalk, Connecticut, with the Rev. Gabriel Dokus; Trenton, New Jersey, with the Rev. Gustav Juranyi; New York City, with the Rev. B. Demeter; and Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, with the Rev. Alexander Kalassay. 
The Hungarian immigrants were glad to organize churches not only because they needed spiritual nourishment, but also because the church provided for them a ?little Hungary,? where they experienced a sense of security. Some of these churches in fact were organized explicitly on a social basis as church societies, including Jews and Roman Catholics as well as Calvinists and Lutherans. At Trenton, for example, the Sick Benefit Society pledged one half of its income to the support of the church, and in New York a Jew was elected to the first consistory. 
At first, these congregations had no legal status as a church group affiliated with either the Reformed Church in Hungary or the Reformed Church in the United States. But in 1896 initial steps were made to organize a Hungarian classis. The group did not want to break relations with either church. The church in Hungary was still their home church and the Reformed Church in the United States was their generous supporter. Caught between two loyalties, more than a decade of negotiations was necessary until a Hungarian classis was officially approved by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States(1905). 
Meanwhile, a new struggle flared up because of Presbyterian work among the Hungarian Reformed people. Until June 1899 work among the Hungarians was under the sole jurisdiction of the Reformed Church in the United States. But around this time the Rev. Julius Hamborsky, who served a Slav church under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, organized a Hungarian Reformed Church at Kingston, Pennsylvania, also under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterians.  Thus the unity of the Hungarian work was broken, and when Dr. Geza Kaczian, as the traveling missionary of the Presbyterian Church among the Hungarians, established Hungarian Presbyterian churches at Youngstown, Ohio (1902), and New Brunswick, New Jersey (1903), open hostility began between the two groups. 
Pressures from home
During the first fifteen years of emigration from Hungary, church and government paid little attention. The consensus on this subject was that the departure of non-Hungarian-speaking minorities from Austria-Hungary only strengthened the position of the ethnic Hungarians in historic Hungary; they did not mind the emigration as long as it was the emigration of only non-Magyars.  But by 1903 it became clear that the government?s liberal emigration policy had backfired; many Hungarian-speaking Magyars had also left the country. After this discovery the Hungarian government?s new policy was to halt emigration, and the Reformed Church in Hungary joined the government in this effort. Pastors were encouraged to use the pulpit and, if necessary, the local and state authorities to block the exodus of these "selfish, unpatriotic, reckless, and irresponsible people." Appeals to Hungarian patriotism were used to stop emigration and to encourage repatriation. Also, at this time the Hungarian pastors of the Reformed Church in the United States sent their memorandum to the home church in Hungary, asking for help to end the "Presbyterian schism." This matter was considered of such great importance that the second-highest-ranking lay dignitary of the church, Count Jozsef Degenfeld—brother-in-law of the most influential Hungarian politician, Count Istvan Tisza—was sent to the United States in response. Undoubtedly, Count Degenfeld came to the United States not only to heal the wounds and end the schism but also to implement the new appeal to Hungarian patriotism among Hungarian Reformed people in the United States.
Degenfeld traveled to every Hungarian Reformed church with an invitation and proposal that an "American Classis" tied to the home church be organized as a way to solve the problems among U.S. Hungarian Reformed churches. The General Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary would pay the pastors? salaries. Lucrative offers were made to the pastors as well as to the congregations: teachers; free education of the pastors? children in Hungary; new positions in America; and better churches in Hungary, to which the people could return. 
Instead of a solution, however, the American Classis of the Reformed Church of Hungary, organized on October 7, 1904, simply created a third group in the Hungarian Reformed community—those who supported the Classis.
The expressed hope was that the original six congregations of this classis would sooner or later be joined by all the other churches. But this hope was never realized, although the new classis grew rapidly. By 1910 there were twenty-three congregations organized in two sections, namely the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis.
Reformed Church reactions
Of course, the first reaction to the establishment of an American Hungarian classis was a shock in the Reformed Church in the United States. Dr. Charles Schaeffer called it a "gross wrong done," "a foreign church on American soil," and declared:
Many Hungarians do not want a Hungarian church in this country, but they want to be part of the Reformed Church in the U.S. ... All honor to the ministers and congregations whom the glitter of gold cannot bribe and who ... did not ... dishonor their vows and obligations to the church into which they have been incorporated. 
He just could not understand.
Many Hungarian people had good reasons for joining the new classis. The German churches seemed unable to respond to their needs. One man in Trenton put it this way:
The Mission Board was unable to give us a really qualified minister, but it did recommend two individuals.., who have never completed theological studies.... Our church received all communications and official letters from the Classis in German, a language none of us understands. At the meetings of the Classis only German is used and it has no sense for us to participate. 
In 1905 the Reformed Church in the United States finally and too late organized the "Hungarian Classis," and David A. Souders became the Superintendent of the Board of Home Missions, "devoting almost all his time to the development of the Hungarian work."  Through the new Hungarian Classis new attempts were made to mend the breach. In the fall of 1908 Dr. James Good and Dean Joseph Tomcsanyi were authorized by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States to present new plans to the Foreign Affairs Board of the General Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary. The plan was completed. It suggested that the Reformed Church in the United States and the Reformed Church in Hungary should do the American work together. The presidium of the General Conventus rejected the plan, stating that "leadership in the work of the American Hungarian Reformed people belongs solely to the home church,"  Although the war between the opposing parties raged in the courts, through the newspapers, and from the pulpit, the Reformed Church in the United States exercised restraint, sobriety, and hopefulness.  It kept the doors open.
The Tiffin Agreement
World War I created crisis and ushered a new period into the life of the Hungarian Reformed churches in America. Loyalty to the old country was still evident in the sacrificial purchase of Hungarian war bonds and in the generous support of funds gathered for the aid of Hungarian war widows and orphans.  Because both immigration and repatriation had stopped, Hungarians in the United States were forced to decide to stay permanently. Salary supplements for the pastors still arrived from Hungary through the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC for 1917 and 1918, but at the same time Hungarian Reformed clergy were accused of being political agents and spies of the central powers.  These and other factors were used by many to urge separation from the home church in Hungary. Some favored an autonomous and self-supporting U.S. church, whereas others suggested affiliation with some U.S. denomination.
Thus negotiations were opened with the Reformed Church in the United States to assimilate the American classes of the Reformed Church of Hungary. On October 7, 1921, the Conventus of the Reformed Church in Hungary reached an agreement with the representatives of the Reformed Church in the United States at Tiffin, Ohio. Through this contract—the Tiffin Agreement—the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis of the Hungarian Reformed Church in America were received into organic legal and ecclesiastical relation with the Eastern Synod and the Pittsburgh Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States, as Classes. Both Classes were assured of the rights, privileges, and sanctions of the Reformed Church in the United States, whose protective powers were offered to safeguard and foster their growth and future development. All property, whether real or personal, remained in the possession of the congregations. The Reformed Church in the United States assumed responsibility for the payment of $52,000 to the Classes as salaries in arrears. The congregations, which became part and parcel of the Reformed Church in the United States, declared to be no more a part of another national church. Therefore, it was expected that nothing would hinder or prevent them from assimilating through historical process with the Reformed Church in the United States. The use of the Magyar language was permitted in public worship, Sunday schools, and vacation Bible schools. A recommendation was made that pastors and elders of the Hungarian Reformed congregations meet in annual conferences to consider the needs of their congregations and to make suggestions to the Board of Home Missions and to their respective Synods.  Through this "excellent transaction" twenty-eight Hungarian Reformed congregations with more than a million dollars' worth of church property joined the Reformed Church in the United States. 
Free Magyar Reformed Church in America
The Tiffin Agreement was by no means a magnet to draw all Hungarian Reformed churches in the United States together. Even if one understands the Americanization pressure of the postwar era, many American Hungarian persons could not swallow it. Laypeople especially, in opposition to their pastors, found that their dignity and right for self-determination was greatly distorted by the Tiffin Agreement.
Objections were made from three viewpoints: (a] On a religious basis, many people argued that Hungarian Reformed congregations could grow into a self-supporting, independent, explicitly Hungarian Reformed church body. (b) Others pointed to the deep nationalistic desire to preserve Magyar culture. (c) Still others noted how economic interests led toward an independent church.
As a result of these concerns a "free movement" gained momentum under the leadership of the Rev. Endre Sebestyan, pastor of the church in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, who was instrumental in organizing the Free Magyar Reformed Church in America on August 13, 1923, in Trenton. The new Hungarian Reformed denomination had its first Constitutional assembly on December 9, 1924 in Duquesne, with six churches answering the roll.
Four more churches soon joined this group (Leechburg, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; Cliff Side, New York; and Youngstown, Ohio), so that in 1928 they organized themselves into a diocese with two classes, the Eastern Classis and the Western Classis. In doctrine and government the new church claimed to follow the Reformed Church in Hungary. Accordingly, the Classes were supervised by deans and the Diocese by an arch-dean, who was the Duquesne pastor. In 1958 the word free, or independent, was omitted from the name of the denomination and the name Arch-Dean was changed to Bishop.  The aim of this group too was "to unite all the Reformed Hungarians who were able to support themselves into one separate denomination."  In reality the movement was dividing rather than uniting the existing congregations, because it capitalized on the nationalistic feeling of the first-generation Hungarian immigrants. Recently, the denomination was admitted into the membership of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches as the Hungarian Reformed Church in America.
Implementing the Tiffin Agreement
The implementation of the Tiffin Agreement started with honesty and sincerity on both sides. Even before the respective synods legally ratified the agreement in 1923, three classes were formed for effective administration and growth. By accepting the terms of the Tiffin Agreement, the Hungarian Reformed people in these classes felt that they were the obedient children of the home church, whereas those who failed to join the Reformed Church in the United States were like spoiled children of the biblical parable. 
At first those who did not accept the Agreement resented the differences between the Reformed Church in Hungary and the Reformed Church in the United States, but soon they conscientiously confessed "from Hungarian and religious viewpoints, the new relation brought no harmful change in our churches; rather it improved the situation by adapting the life of our congregations to the post-war American conditions." In addition, they admitted that the Reformed Church in the United States provided a more democratic system of church government to its Hungarian churches without demanding any sacrifice from a Hungarian or a religious viewpoint. The classes were even granted rights ?which are exercised only by the synods in Hungary, such as examining and ordaining theological students.? 
As the years went by, however, the Board of Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States became increasingly dissatisfied. In 1929 the Board reported:
There are just about one-hundred Protestant Churches among them, seventy of which belong to the Reformed Church. All of these, with the exception of six, are enrolled as Missions under the Board and every one of the six so-called self-supporting churches, with the exception of the First Church, Cleveland, Ohio, likewise receive aid from the Board for pastor?s assistants, teachers or Deaconesses.... The Hungarian congregations have not yet become fully acquainted with our methods of securing benevolent moneys and consequently they contribute comparatively small amounts on the apportionments, which serves to pull down the average giving in the Classes and makes them recipients of a proportionately large share of our Home Mission appropriations. 
The Board was beginning to admit the failure of the Tiffin Agreement. It failed because it did not pay. It cost too much, and the Hungarians were progressing at the expense of Americanization expectations.
The economic depression of the country only aggravated the situation. Subsidy to special Hungarian projects had to be curtailed. In the 1920s the Board employed one Hungarian pastor as a full-time editor of the Reformatusok Lapja, the magazine for the Hungarian constituency. His salary and the printing and administration of this weekly were paid by the Board as one of the "benefits and advantages of the union with a large and influential American denomination."  "Under the depression we had to stop this subsidy as well as the financial assistance of other projects among our Hungarian brethren." The Board had to reduce its subsidy to Hungarian Mission churches too, and thus many of these churches became self-supporting whether they wanted to or not.
As a consequence of these developments, by 1935 a new tendency could be detected among the Hungarian churches of the Reformed Church in the United States. The president of Lakeside Classis was quoted as saying, "The Hungarian Reformed tradition should become the backbone of the spiritual life of our churches. More attention should be paid to this genuine Hungarian Reformed heritage in the life of our Classes."  TheReformatusok Lapja openly argued in 1936 that the summer schools and Sunday schools should emphasize the "Hungarian Reformed confessional heritage."  "We need desperately more courage to apply our Hungarian Reformed principles in our American congregations."  By 1938 opinions were expressed by groups in the various classes that the existential problems in their churches were identical.
We do not have Hungarian language tracts, no adequate Hungarian Reformed material for our Christian Education program. No good Hungarian Reformed Catechism books are available. There is no uniform Hungarian Reformed hymnal. . . We are too weak to face these problems as two separate groups. We need unity. 
This was the time of transition from Hungarian into bilingual church life. Although distinction could be made in the formal process between the Free, Presbyterian, and Reformed Church in the United States churches,  the fact remained that the language transition came about the same time for all three major groups, and they wanted to face this "natural process of Americanization" together. Differences existed between the Presbyterian and the Reformed groups.
In the Hungarian Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. the goal was set at a complete assimilation within one generation.... In the Reformed Church in the U.S., the Hungarian Classes had certain autonomy to preserve Hungarian traditions.... The Tiffin Agreement guaranteed their rights as Hungarian speaking churches.... The Hungarian congregations in the Reformed Church in the U.S. were encouraged to preserve their own unique Hungarian Reformed tradition by no-one else as Dr. Charles Schaeffer who was such an ardent supporter of the Americanization by evangelization in the past. In 1937, Dr. Schaeffer urged the conforming pastors to preserve their Hungarian Reformed denominational heritage in their second generation as well as in the first.... He expressed the hope that it was for the sake of American Protestantism that he asked Hungarian Reformed pastors to keep their unique traditions. 
This was the background and reason why the Hungarian classes of the Reformed Church in the United States requested a nongeographical synod when the Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Synod of North America merged in 1934. At the General Synod of Fort Wayne, Indiana, held in June 1936, President George W. Richards declared that the Tiffin Agreement continued to be in force, and thus the General Synod in Columbus, Ohio, June 20-29, 1938, granted the request of the Hungarian classes to establish a nongeographical synod for the Hungarian congregations with the rights of the Tiffin Agreement. Thus on March 14, 1939, the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was organized in Cleveland, in the same church that witnessed the organization of the First Hungarian Reformed congregation fifty years earlier. 
Questions of reunion and union
The years from 1939 to 1957, with the formation of the United Church of Christ, were filled with change. The use of the English language made great strides in this period. In 1940 thirteen churches conducted services in English and in 1950 almost all did. The youth work was changed from ?learning Hungarian in summer school? to meeting the needs of the youth in the language they understood.  Great plans were made to change catechetical teaching from ?learning the questions? to an all-inclusive and meaningful Christian education for all,  but these plans never materialized. Hungarian departments were established at Elmhurst College, in Elmhurst, Illinois (1942-46); Franklin and Marshall, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had had a Hungarian professor in the person of Dr. William Toth since 1946; even Lancaster Theological Seminary considered resuming Hungarian instruction. Church discipline was exercised in several cases, but disciplined church life could not be established. All the ministers were enrolled in the Pension Fund Plan, with one exception.
The yearning for a unified Hungarian Reformed community continued to influence the Magyar Synod. In 1941 Hungarian representatives from Europe again tried to bring the three major factions into one church body. The outbreak of World War II ended that attempt. As the Evangelical and Reformed Church engaged in negotiations with the Congregational Christian Churches in the early 1940s, however, plans were formulated to unite the Free Magyar Reformed Church and the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church in the proposed United Church of Christ. The proposal was fully endorsed by the Magyar Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, but it never came to a vote in the Free Magyar Reformed Church in America. At the same time the Magyar Synod registered its resistance to some of the sacrifices that seemed to be called for in the proposed United Church of Christ.
Ten years later, as the reality of the new denomination loomed on the horizon, efforts were made to guarantee the future of a Hungarian conference in the new church. When no promises could be made the Magyar Synod voted against the proposed Constitution of the United Church of Christ and began talking seriously with the Presbyterians and others inspired by the so-called Blake-Pike proposal on church union. Here was yet another plan to unite all Hungarian Reformed factions into a United Hungarian Reformed Church in America.
The United Church of Christ Constitution was ratified without the guarantees sought by the Magyar Synod. The larger union of Hungarian churches did not materialize and life went on. Under the name of the Calvin Synod, as an acting conference, the Hungarian churches continued as an exception to the geographically defined conferences in the rest of the United Church of Christ. They argued then, and continue to argue, that the Basis of Union gave them the right to "unite in the United Church of Christ without break in their respective historic continuities and traditions." 
We honestly endeavor to be a color in the rainbow in the United Church of Christ within the framework of Magyar Synod rather than an unwilling material in an ecclesiastical melting pot without Magyar Synod. This is our ecumenical vision. 
Out of this ecumenical vision the Calvin Synod continues to live.
The Rt. Rev. John Butosi was Bishop of the Calvin Synod—Acting Conference of the United Church of Christ.
1. The four hymnals are The Hymnal, The Pilgrim Hymnal, The Hymnal of the United Church of Christ and The New Century Hymnal.
2. Imre de Josika-Herczeg, Hungary After a Thousand Years (New York: American Hungarian Daily, Inc., 1934), p. 293. Cf. Denes A. Janossy, The Kossuth Emigration in America [Budapest, 1940).
3. John Kosa, ?A Century of Hungarian Emigration, 1859-1950? in The American Slavic and East European Review, vol. 16 (1957), p. 505. Kosa admits, however, that it is almost impossible to reach the exact figure statistically for the following three reasons: (a) These figures do not include the returnees whose number is estimated between 15 and 33 percent of the gross emigration; (b) in these figures all those nationalities are included that inhabited the polyethnic state of Hungary: Jewish, German, Slovak, and Croat (actually the rate of Magyars in the emigrant mass was less than their rate in the total population; as late as the 1900s the Magyars made up only 33 to 40 percent of the emigrants); (c) illegal emigration is not included. Although illegal emigration was criminally prosecuted after 1881, it was a wide and common practice with the help of the secret agents. American business concerns gave up the labor contract practice only in 1910.
4. Josika-Herczeg, op. cit., pp. 297?98.
5. Kosa, op. cit., p. 512.
6. Alexander Daroczy, ed., Bethlen Almanac (Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, 1958), pp. 252?53.
7. A.M. Leffler, ?Louis Kossuth and the American Churches,? Lutheran Quarterly 6 (November 1954):27?28.
8. Louis A. Kalassay, ?The Educational and Religious History of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the United States? (Ph.D. diss. University of Pittsburgh, 1939), 19.
9. Aladar Komjathy, ?The Hungarian Reformed Church in America; An Effort to Preserve a Denominational Heritage? (Th.D. diss., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1962), 5.
10. Ibid., 10.
11. Kalassay, op. cit., p. 22.
12. Charles E. Schaeffer, Glimpses into Hungarian Life (Philadelphia: Board of Home Missions of the Reformed Church in the United States, 1923), p. 16.
13. Kalassay, op. cit., pp. 28ff.
14. Ibid., p. 46.
15. Ibid., p. 63.
16. The Rev. F. von Krug, pastor of the Kingston Presbyterian Church, claimed that as far back as 1897 he gathered Hungarians into his church. (A. George, ?Magyar Congregations in the Presbyterian Church,? Reformatusok Lapja, 59, no. 13(July 1, 1959):14.
17. Kalassay, op. cit., pp. 65-68.
18. Julianna Puskas, From Hungary to the United States (1880-1914) (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1982), pp. 193-95.
19. Komjathy, op. cit., p. 75.
20. Acts and Proceedings, General Synod, Reformed Church in the United States, 1905, pp. 73, 56-57.
21. Komiathy, op. cit., p. 99.
22. Barna Dienes, 50 Ev (Pittsburgh, PA: Expert Printing Company. 1940), p. 11.
24: Geza Takaro et. al. Emlekk?ny az Amerikai Magyar Reformatus Egyhazmegye 25 eves evfordulojara (New York, 1929), p. 23.
25. Ibid., p. 26.
26. Ibid., p. 30.
27. Reformatusok Lapja 9 (March 23, 1918): 6-7.
28. The complete text of the Tiffin Agreement is included in Kalassay, op. cit.
29. According to Schaeffer, op. cit., pp. 19-20, in 1923 the Reformed Church in the United States had fifty-two Hungarian churches with 30,000 members, the largest single body of Hungarian Reformed people in America.
30. Komjathy, op. cit., pp. 190ff.
31. Alexander Daroczy, Bethlen Almanac (Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, 1959), p. 235.
32. Kalassay, op. cit., p. 79.
33. Takaro, op. cit., pp. 33-34; Matt. 11:17.
34. Ibid., p. 34.
35. Acts and Proceedings, General Synod, Reformed Church in the United States, 1929.
36. Quotation from Tiffin Agreement.
37. Koinjathy, op. cit., p. 288.
38. Reformatusok Lapja, July 10, 1936, p. 4.
39. Ibid., December 14, 1935, p. 2.
40. Ibid., April 15, 1938, p. 7
41. Komiathy, op. cit., pp. 290-91, notes that the Free churches decided to introduce English-language services, while in the Presbyterian churches, denominational executives stressed the same, and congregations in the Reformed Church in the United States were encouraged to use English as well as Hungarian.
42. Ibid., pp. 191-92.
43. Credit is due the Rev. Barna Dienes, Dr. George W. Richards, and Dr. Charles E. Shaeffer in disarming opposition that recommended the tabling of the issue at Columbus, Ohio, General Synod.
44. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1949, p. 47.
45. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1941, pp. 62-70.
46. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1961, p. 65.
47. Minutes, Magyar Synod, 1960, p. 52.
As a result of many mergers, covenants, mission projects, affiliations, and neighborly activities, the United Church of Christ has incorporated many diverse groups into its history and structure. Not every group, however, that considered affiliation with the United Church of Christ (or its antecedent denominations) actually took formal action. One such group was the Schwenkfelders.
Who are the Schwenkfelders?
The Schwenkfelders are descendants of the followers of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (1489-1561), a German Reformer. They came to southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1730s. Church historians have generally ignored Schwenckfeld; his contemporary, Martin Luther, gave them good reason. Luther, in one of his letters (December 6, 1543), spoke of Schwenckfeld as "the poor simpleton" who was "possessed of the devil."  Schwenckfeld refused to retaliate and concealed Luther's stinging correspondence among private papers, commended the burly Saxon's virtues, and named him in prayer to his dying day.
Schwenckfeld's gracious conduct was partly a reflection of his home life. He was of Silesian nobility, raised in a devout Roman Catholic home, and educated for diplomatic service, which ended at age twenty-nine, when he lost his hearing. (Court secrets were not shouted.) At the same time Schwenckfeld began to read the writings coming from Wittenberg and Luther and experienced a spiritual awakening. His full attention was given to mastering Hebrew and Greek, studying the scriptures and early church writing, and for eight years, affirming many of Luther's views.
Separation came when the Silesian nobleman discussed the meaning of the Lord's Supper with Dr. Luther and tried to reconcile conflicting interpretations. Agreement was impossible. In despair Schwenckfeld declared that he could not approach the Lord's Supper as long as Christians were divided and announced he would abstain from communing until the differences were resolved. This decision, called the Stillstand, was initiated in 1526. Schwenckfeld also questioned the practice of infant baptism but shunned the Anabaptists' insistence of rebaptizing adults, as well as their literal use of the scriptures. To him, the Bible was not a "paper pope" but mere words that required God's Spirit to bring them to life.
At first, Schwenckfeld's company was solicited by the well-to-do and intellectuals, but pressure from both Roman Catholics and Protestants prompted King Ferdinand of Silesia to banish Schwenckfeld from his estate. Living in exile, he depended on friends, who circulated his writings and provided him refuge until his death on December 10, 1561.Because Schwenckfeld remained a bachelor, his followers were all "spiritual heirs" who were attracted to his reforming spirit of "The Middle Way," between literal biblicism and blind sacramentalism. During his life and after his death those who adhered to his expression of the Christian faith existed without any formal organization. Some attended the recognized churches (Roman Catholic and Lutheran), others refused; some communed, others abstained. They met in private homes for worship and study and visited churches where pastors were willing to honor Schwenckfeld's writings until the 1540s, when the ruling prince ordered strict adherence to the Augsburg Confession. Schwenkfelders who did not comply were tried, exiled, imprisoned, sent to Vienna as galley slaves, or pressed into service as soldiers against the Turks. A common preference of the 1580s was Vienna, where the Roman Catholics were judged to be less severe than the Lutherans in Silesia! Hence the Schwenkfelders' strong dislike for Lutherans!
Waves of persecution threatened the Schwenkfelders with extinction throughout the 1600s, until 1719, when a Jesuit mission initiated another approach. Representatives of the Schwenkfelders were requested to travel to Vienna to defend their Schwenkfeldian views in writing.  The defenses were futile, and by 1726 only one alternative remained: leave everything and escape. Those who did sought refuge in Saxony with Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, leader of the Moravians, but that stay was only temporary. On July 29, 1734, forty families began the journey to Pennsylvania and a new chapter in their history. 
Settlement in America
The "Saint Andrew" landed at Philadelphia on September 22, 1734. On the twenty-fourth a daylong thanksgiving service was held, beginning a practice called Gedaechtnisz Tag, which is the oldest ongoing thanksgiving observance in America. Because no land grant was large enough to provide the Schwenkfelders with a site similar to the Moravian tract at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, each family started its homestead, ranging from Chestnut Hill, near Philadelphia, into what are now Berks and Lehigh counties. The first thirty years were a time to establish farms and mills; after that, attention was given to organizing their unstructured house fellowships into a Society of Schwenkfelders, in 1782.
Families grouped into an Upper District and a Middle District. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, worship in the home began changing to meetinghouse services, with three in the Upper District (Washington, Hosensack, Kraussdale) - today's Palm Church - and three in the Middle District (Salford, Towamencin, Worcester) - today’s Central Church. In the beginning, services were held at each location on one Sunday in three, so that it was one congregation rotating to three locations.
In 1763 a catechism was prepared by Christopher Schultz. He prepared the Schwenkfelders to adapt to the totally different life in America, where those who had been their persecutors in Europe were now their neighbors and friends. In a new climate the Schwenkfelders began a new era.
Relationships with German Reformed
In southeastern Pennsylvania the Schwenkfelders naturally formed some relationships with other German colonists. By the early nineteenth century close ties had developed between Schwenkfelder pastors in the Upper District and members of the New Goshenhoppen Reformed Church (now United Church of Christ, in East Greenville, Pennsylvania). The Rev. C.Z. Weiser described this kinship in the Mercersburg Review. He wrote about similarities between Christopher Schultz’s catechism, based on Schwenckfeld’s works, and the Heidelberg Catechism of the Reformed Church in the United States; each corresponded to the other "in reference to the classification of the Ten Commandments, and embodied the essentials of the Reformed Confession, if we except (meaning: exclude) the doctrine of Infant Baptism."(4) However, an incident occurred that proved differences were greater than similarities. Weiser’s article related the sad discovery as he told about the Schwenkfelder pastor, Christopher Schultz Jr., who was invited to supply a vacant Reformed church in the early 1830s. The unbaptized, unordained pastor created a controversy among the parishioners that also disturbed his conscience. The Schwenkfelder catechism did not forbid the outward practice of baptism, confirmation, communion, and ordination; at the same time his position was to follow a church life in which these rites were excluded.
He consulted with neighboring Pastors ... who advised him to bring Ordination and the Sacraments across the waters, at the hands of their forerunners in Silesia or Saxony. "So mote it be!" — said Pastor Schultz. But alas! — the few who remained back were precisely in the same dilemma. now commenced Pastor Schultz's inward conflict. There was no way open to bring an Apostolic succession over to the Schwenkfelder Society. . . A midnight melancoly possesed his soul. he became an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum, and died under the cloud in 1841.
Weiser identified the crisis as the absence of an ordained ministry among the Schwenkfelders, for their pastors were chosen by lot from the congregation. In 1895 the crisis was addressed, as Schwenkfelders in both districts decided to practice adult baptism by sprinkling and the Lord's Supper (at first served with a common cup and later changed to communion in the pews).  The study papers and committee reports that preceded this decision are an agonizing account of working out a response for neighbors who unrelentingly asked the Schwenkfelders, "If you are Christians, why do you not baptize and commune?" To this day some Schwenkfelders claim that the decision was accommodation; others claim that it was an overdue resolution. Regardless of any evaluation of the decision, it was a dramatic example of how the New World created a climate that gave new direciton to Schwenkfeldian beliefs and practices. After 1895 and the end of the Stillstand, and 1909, when the Society of Schwenkfelders was incorporated into the Schwenkfelder Church, a loose house fellowship from sixteenth-century Silesia became a Protestant denomination. It was the smallest denomination in the world, numbering five churches—all in southeastern Pennsylvania—with a total membership of 3,000.
Relationships with the Congregationalists
In the late nineteenth century the Schwenkfelders developed an important relationship to Congregationalism around the long-standing desired to collect all the writings of their society: the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum. It began as a seearch through Europe for extant works of Schwenckfeld and concluded with the publication of nineteen volumes. In the monumental task two names familiar to Congregationalists emerged: Chester David Hartranft and Hartford Theological Seminary.
Hartranft's contact with the Schwenkfelders is like a maze, beginning with Augustus C. Thompson, an 1838 graduate of Hartford's predecessor school, the Theological Institute of Connecticut. Thompson continued his studies at the University of Berlin, where his roommate was August F.H. Schneider. Schneider became interested in the Schwenkfelders through church historian Gottfried Arnold. To help Schneider in his studies, Thompson had his brother in the United States contact the Schwenkfelders in Pennsylvania. That contact helped to initiate a thirty-five-year project in which Schneider assembled copious notes about Schwenckfeld and the Schwenkfelders.
Forty years after those student days in Germany the Schneider collection was placed on the market. Through the generosity of Newton Case, the volumes were purchased for Hartford Seminary's library. Thompson, then a trustee of the seminary, happened to recognize the handwriting of his former roommate and enthusiastically introduced the material to Prof. Chester D. Hartranft—a providential preparation. 
Hartranft's biographical sketch included such details as the following: born in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County on October 15, 1839; graduated from Philadelphia's Central High School; studied at Rambo's School in Trappe, the Hill School in Pottstown, the University of Pennsylvania; served briefly in the military; graduated from the Reformed Theological Seminary at New Brunswick; served as a (Dutch) Reformed pastor for twelve years and then accepted a professorship at Hartford Theological Seminary. The missing detail was his genealogy; he was a descendant of the 1734 Schwenkfelder immigrant, Tobias Hartranft, and a distant cousin of Pennsylvania governor Maj. Gen. John Frederick Hartranft. The Schwenkfelders were also unaware of the relationship; the professor's name was missing from the 1879 Genealogical Record. The omission was quickly corrected when a committee began looking for a prominent speaker for the one hundred fiftieth anniversary (1884) of the landing of the Schwenkfelders and realized that the Hartford college and met his future wife. But Kriebel was attracted to another part of Hartranft's life, his denomination: the Congregational Churches.
Kriebel was interested in introducing the Schwenkfelders to wider associations with other churches and denominations. Beginning in August 1922 the young people of the Congregational Christian Churches of the Middle Atlantic District (Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Maryland; Washington, DC; and Virginia) met each summer for ten days at Perkiomen School. The group worshiped in Palm Church during their two-Sunday stay, and one of their clergy preached at both services. The September 1927 issue of the Schwenkfelders' bimonthly magazine, The Schwenkfeldian, printed a full report by the Rev. Harry Myers, pastor of Philadelphia's Pilgrim Congregational Church. His assessment of the conference was that "the friendly relationship between the Schwenkfelders and the Congregationalists in the foreign field is now being carried forward in the home land in a very happy way.
Kriebel must have shared that impression and acted to turn it into a more tangible relationship. At the annual meeting of Palm Church in April 1929 he addressed the congregation on the subject of merger with the Congregational Churches. The minutes contain no details, but members who recall being there report that a motion was defeated by a hand or standing vote, with no count being noted. The reasons for the motion's defeat are a mix of interesting explanations. One reason given by a member who cast a negative vote was that the Congregational preacher at the previous summer conference insisted, while preaching, that a Schwenkfelder mother carry out her crying baby. Some "no" votes were a protest to his request. Another explanation attributes the motion's defeat to one of Kriebel's relatives, Howard W. Kriebel, who agitated for negative votes to get back at "Dr. O. S." for some unknown reason, because "they were always at each other, and this was one of those times." 
Congregationalists and Schwenkfelders can trace other, pleasant associations of the twentieth century. Some of these associations came through the pastors, such as Johnson and Kriebel, who ended the Schwenkfelder practice of being chosen by lot. From their time on the ministers were college and seminary trained, and the institutions attended included Hartford, Oberlin, and Union Seminary in New York.In the early twentieth century, when the Schwenkfelder churches changed from German to English in their worship services, the resources that were used were not translated but new ones were written. In 1928 the Schwenkfelders published a Book of Worship for Church and Home, borrowing from Congregational, Reformed, and Presbyterian material "in the spirit of Denominational Fellowship which is becoming more and more marked in these days" (the committee's comment in the preface). For their hymnal they chose the 1935 edition of the Pilgrim Hymnal, which Palm Church later updated to the 1958 edition. And in 1909, when the churches were incorporated, the polity adopted was congregational.
The question of involvement in missions was raised at the 1844 fall meeting of the Schwenkfelders. An offering of $273 was received and sent to Benjamin Schneider, a German Reformed missionary who was serving under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Brusa, Asia Minor. Why was Schneider selected to receive the offering? He had been a neighbor from Long Swamp Reformed Church; the Schwenkfelders of the Upper District knew him personally. Again, in 1865, the German Reformed Missionary Society was used as a channel for directing Schwenkfelder Harvest Home offerings to the Pennsylvania Bible Society. 
By the 1894 Fall Conference, interest in missions resulted in a committee to investigate a venture in home missions in Philadelphia. On December 24, 1895, a charter was granted, establishing the Schwenkfelder earlier.
The action of the Palm congregation was followed by the Central, Lansdale, and Norristown churches when they called UCC ministers to become their pastors.  In 1964 Jack R. Rothenberger, whose family is listed in the Genealogical Record and who was ordained a Schwenkfelder minister in 1955 after graduating from Hartford Seminary, was granted standing in the United Church of Christ, where he was already active in association and conference committees.
The early 1960s were filled with ministerial conversations about the similarities between the two denominations. With historical references as an incentive, the pastors made a bold proposal: "Why not affiliate with the United Church of Christ?" At the May 20, 1961, General Conference a motion activated "the appointment of a study committee to determine the thinking of the people on the question of the future of the Schwenkfelder Churches. And to make specific recommendations to General Conference at Spring 1962 Meeting."  The General Conference Moderator appointed a "Special Committee to Consider the Future of the Schwenkfelder Church," with each church being represented by the pastor and at least one layperson. The Committee met over the next three years and worked out a schedule: Articles appeared in The Schwenkfeldian; a traveling panel visited each church school; Rothenberger, whose 1962 master's thesis was "Caspar Schwenckfeld Von Ossig and the Ecumenical Ideal," delivered a sermon in each church; and special programs were planned for the annual thanksgiving day and General Conferences. The Committee also evaluated resources describing the Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, American Baptist, and UCC denominations, noting differences and similarities to the Schwenkfelder Churches. The overall impression was that the United Church of Christ was
very unusual; not one denomination but several joined together.... Its name implies its members are ecumenically minded. Its background is one in which Schwenkfelders have participated on a number of occasions. Its organization is not overbearing or complex,.. its constitution guarantees that others who work with it will not be absorbed or indoctrinated or restricted. 
A motion from the Committee urged delegates at the 1963 Spring General Conference to engage in study, with each church coming to its own decision. By February 24, 1964, the Committee had its responses:
Central—There appears to be a growing concern about the future of our churches. A small vociferous group seems to be against what our committee has done and is doing all in their power to discredit the committee. Seems to be a confusion on the meaning of words, such as: merger-affiliation. Apparent fear on the part of some that the committee has made final decision for all the people.
Norristown—A "Future of the Schwenkfelders" committee has been appointed.... Appears to be growing concern about the problem.
Philadelphia—The congregation is still open to ideas and has not yet made up its congregational mind about the matter.
Lansdale—There is little apparent strong opinion being voiced in either direction. Frustration was expressed over the fact that many people have made up their minds before having read The Schwenkfeldion. (This "frustration" seems to be present in each of the churches.)
Palm—No strong opinions have been heard. Affiliated for five years and many people are not aware of it. We have benefited, without paying for the benefits. Majority of people seem indifferent. A few negative voices have been raised. 
The Committee's next step was to give each church a study packet, to "allow the Holy Spirit to direct us toward the future," and to ask the May 16, 1964, Spring General Conference to vote to disband the committee. The motion was affirmed, and "t In 1870 the Rev. C. Z. Weiser, the Reformed pastor neighbor to Schwenkfelders in the Upper District, now Palm Church, remarked, "As a Society, they will not merge with any other denomination." The special committee of the early 1960s was not thinking merger but affiliation, and that thought was resisted. Perhaps the resistance was owing to the committee's failure to recognize another New World pursuit of the Schwenkfelders: an interest in self-identity. After 1734 a Schwenkfelder was not so much a spiritual heir of Reformer Caspar Schwenckfeld as a bloodline descendant of the Schwenkfelders who came to colonial Pennsylvania on the Saint Andrew. Genealogy became a primary concern, an interest that was threatened by the committee of 1961-64. Often a positive response to affiliation is the result of stressing a group's strengths, not its weaknesses, needs, and deficiencies. The committee could not communicate to the Schwenkfelder Churches that there was a compelling reason for affiliation—to share the spiritual gifts received from Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig.
When UCC members visit a Schwenkfelder church today they discover a quiet blending of the four denominations represented in the merger of 1957—a secret hidden in the history and life of Pennsylvania's Schwenkfelders.
Martha B. Kriebel is pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church, UCC, Collegeville, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the UCC Historical Council.
1. For literature on the life and teachings of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig and information about the Schwenkfelders, contact the Schwenkfelder Library, One Seminary Avenue, Pennsburg, PA 18073.
2. The value of the defense was that a clear statement of Schwenkfeldian beliefs was put into print in the 1720s, and later published in English as Elmer Schultz Gerhard, ed., A Vindication of Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (Norristown, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1942).
3. Other ships brought Schwenkfelder families to Philadelphia during the 1730s, but this was the largest number of immigrants.
4. C. Z. Weiser, "Caspar Schwenkfeld and the Schwenkfelders," Mercersburg Review, July 1870:362.
5. Ibid., p. 363.
6. For a detailed account of this decision, see Martha B. Kriebel, Schwenkfelders and the Sacraments (Pennsburg, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1968).
7. This incident is reported by W. Kyrel Meschter in the draft of a book to be published by The Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church in 1984, p. 32.
8. Ibid., p. 36.
9. Quoted from a conversation that Elva S. Schultz had during the 1960s with the pastor of Palm Schwenkfelder Church, the Rev. Martha B. Kriebel.
10. Selina G. Schultz, "Schwenckfelder Interest in Missions," The Schwenckfeldian 1, no. 6[September 1947): 7-9.
11. Samuel K. Brecht, "Supplementary History—The First Schwenkfelder Church of Philadelphia," The Genealogical Record of the Schwenkfelder Families (Pennsburg, PA: Board of Publication of the Schwenkfelder Church, 1923).
12. Selina Schultz, op. cit., p. 11.
13. The UCC pastors who were called were as follows: Central: William B. Bradshaw, Eric T. Braund; Norristown: Ronald Lockhart, David R. Crowle, Herbert H. Dewees; Lansdale: William E. Cameron, Larry 0. Bechol, Andrew H. Johanson, Arlan M. Bond.
14. At the May 19, 1962, General Conference the Committee reported meeting twice, but "we are not prepared at this time to make specific recommendations to General Conference."
15. Quoted from "Which Way?" a pamphlet prepared by Martha B. Kriebel for the special committee.
16. Minutes, Special Committee, February 24, 1964.
17. Weiser, op. cit., p. 370.
Written by Ruth W. Rasche
The story of the deaconess sisters is as old as the Christian church. It begins with the apostles yet endures to this day. The deaconesses are dedicated women who dared to be differentin order to give full-time Christian service to the ministry of mercy. Their life-style and work are part of the women's movement of modern times. They are the pioneer professional women of the church.
Deaconesses in the early church
Deaconess means messenger, servant, or helper. It comes from the Greek diakonos and was first used in the Bible by the apostle Paul, in Romans 16:1-2, to describe Phoebe, a woman leader and worker in the early Christian community:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.
Paul's letters indicate that women were prominent leaders and missionaries in the early Christian movement. Many in addition to Phoebe are named. Theological scholarship affirms that women were preachers, teachers, and leaders of the community as well as nurses serving the sick, the poor, and the persecuted.  When the time for definite ecclesiastical organization came, the work of deaconesses had become a necessity to the church and they received a place in its ordered ministry. They were highly respected and counted among the clergy. Evidence that they were ordained to some of the functions of the ministry is abundant in early church records.  On this biblical foundation the ministry of deaconesses in all succeeding generations rests.
Deaconess work in the Evangelical Synod
Deaconess work in the United Church of Christ began within the Evangelical Synod, one of the four roots of the UCC heritage. On March 18, 1889 the Evangelischer Diakonissen-Verein [Evangelical Deaconess Society] of St. Louis, Missouri, was organized, and soon thereafter the first Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital was opened.  Two deaconess sisters were consecrated to provide the professional leadership for this new venture. In the same year the Tabitha Institute of Lincoln, Nebraska, which was already established as an orphan asylum, added a Deaconess Home to its organization and also began its deaconess work with two consecrated sisters. After a few years, however, this effort was discontinued. 
Impetus for the organization of the Evangelical Deaconess Society resulted from events that had occurred a year earlier. An Evangelical pastor was summoned to give communion to a critically ill parishioner and found her being cared for in her home by a Roman Catholic nun because the woman was too poor to get help from anyone else. Much distressed at the situation and discovering that it was not an isolated incident, the pastor took the matter to the next monthly meeting of the St. Louis Evangelical Pastors' Association. "Why can't we train the young women of our church to care for the poor and the sick as do the deaconess sisters of Germany?"he asked. 
So much interest was aroused that a committee was appointed, more discussions were held, and the organizing meeting was finally convened at St. Peter's Evangelical Church. Seventy persons attended-sixty men, eight women, and two "young ladies." All signed their names as charter members of the new organization. Its purpose was twofold: (1) to nurse the sick and exercise care for the poor and aged and, (2) to found and support a deaconess home where deaconesses could be educated and trained.  A board of directors was elected, consisting of four pastors, four laymen, and four laywomen, as stipulated in the Articles of Association. 
The election of four women to the policy-making level of the Evangelical Deaconess Society was a breakthrough. In most German Evangelical congregations at that time the women sat on one side of the room and the men, on the other. A woman's church membership was held in herhusband's name. He voted and spoke for her and the whole family.
Whether a stroke of genius or simply a matter of practical consideration, the decision to include women as one third of the board of directors of the Deaconess Society proved to be fortunate in many ways. Women of the Evangelical churches throughout St. Louis mobilized for action and rallied to the deaconess cause. A wealthy widow donated funds that made possible the rental and renovation of a large home in center city, at 2119 Eugenia Street, which became the first Deaconess Hospital and Home. Women from all parts of the metropolitan area helped to prepare the home for occupancy and spread the word as to its purpose.
On Sunday, August 18, 1889, Katherine Haack, a minister's widow who was already a trained nurse, became the first deaconess of the Evangelical Synod when she was consecrated at a worship service held at St. Peter's Church. She immediately recruited her stepdaughter, Lydia Daries, also a trained nurse, to become the second deaconess. 
Meanwhile, members of Evangelical churches in cities across the United States were also being confronted with the unprecedented needs of the poor and the sick in their communities. In the 1880s 5.5 million immigrants had come into the United States—twice as many as in the preceding decade—and most of them came from Germany. In fact, census records show that four million persons of German heritage were living in the Middle West at that time. Many of the new immigrants were very poor. Coming, as they often did, with a language barrier and lack of skills, they found life harsh and bleak. Crowded city conditions and overburdened sanitation facilities led to illness and epidemics.
In order to alleviate some of this suffering, deaconess work was established in a variety of institutions in many cities across the land by members of the Evangelical Synod.
1889—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri; 1889—Tabitha Institute, Lincoln, Nebraska; 1892—Protestant Deaconess Home and Hospital, Evansville, Indiana; 1902—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, Lincoln, Illinois; 1905—Evangelical Emmaus Homes, Marthasville and St. Charles, Missouri; 1908—Evangelical St. Lucas Deaconess Home and Hospital, Faribault, Minnesota; 1910—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 1910—Evangelical Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; 1911—Evangelical Deaconess Home, Louisville, Kentucky; 1912—Evangelical Deaconess Association, Baltimore, Maryland; 1913—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Marshalltown, Iowa; 1915—Evangelical Deaconess Home and Hospital, East St. Louis, Illinois; 1917—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Detroit, Michigan; 1919—Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio
At about the same time, members of the German Reformed Church, also one of the four roots of the UCC heritage, established deaconess work in two locations.
1892—Deaconess Home and Hospital of the German Reformed Church, Cleveland, Ohio, which later became Fairview Park Hospital;1895—German Deaconess Home and Hospital, Buffalo, New York
In 1901 the American Congregational Deaconess Association was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois, at the recommendation of the Illinois State Association. A Deaconess Training Home was begun later that year with instructors from Chicago Theological Seminary. 
Worldwide deaconess work
Deaconess work had been well established in Europe long before 1889. Sixty-five deaconess sisterhoods with more than eight thousand deaconesses were serving at that time not only in Europe but also in Asia and Africa, including St. Petersburg, Russia; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cairo, Egypt; Jerusalem; and scores of other places in between. 
In the United States, the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Methodist denominations were engaged in various deaconess efforts by the late 1880s, and interdenominational groups were cooperating on some projects.  These efforts were all part of the nineteenth-century revival of deaconess work, which had declined after five centuries of prominence in Christendom. Deaconesses were mentioned occasionally in church records, but during the Middle Ages . . . the deaconess had become the nun. Many Roman Catholic sisterhoods established care for the sick in relation to their convents, but many such convents in northern Europe were closed after the Reformation.
Modern revival of deaconess work
A young Lutheran pastor, Theodore Fliedner, of Kaiserswerth, Germany, was responsible for the revival of deaconess work. He had traveled across Europe in the 1830s and was appalled by the suffering of the sick, the poor, the aged, and the outcasts of society that he saw in many places.
Inspired by a group of Mennonites who had organized the care of the sick in a village in Holland and by Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker who had cared for released prisoners in England, he returned to Kaiserswerth and with the help of his wife, Frederike, opened the first Deaconess Home and Hospital in Europe in 1836.
The Fliedners invited the young, unmarried women of their small congregation to join them in this venture of faith. A doctor's daughter, Gertrude Reichard, became the first recruited deaconess of modern times.  Despite strong opposition from the townsfolk, who did not want a "pest house" in their midst, and the skepticism of others who scoffed at the undertaking or disapproved of any career for women outside the home, the Kaiserswerth sisterhood grew and became a model for deaconess work all over the world. 
The Kaiserswerth model
The deep Christian commitment of the Fliedners, combined with their organizational ability, attracted not only those who wished to become deaconesses but also others who came simply to observe their methods. Florence Nightingale, who has often been called the patron saint of modern nursing, studied with the Fliedners on two occasions and stayed in Kaiserswerth for three months in 1851, before beginning her famous work later in England. She spoke of this experience with the Fliedners as the turning point in her life.  Of the deaconess sisters at Kaiserswerth she said, "Never have I met with a higher love, a purer devotion than there." 
Group living in a motherhouse, a primary concept for the Fliedners as they organized deaconess work, proved to be a significant element of their success and was an initial step in the modern-day women's movement. Single young women could, with parental approval, leave the family circle and find security living and working in the company of like-minded women who were dedicated to a career in the ministry of mercy.
Nineteenth-century society generally did not approve of single young women living outside the family circle. And only those of wealthy families could hope for more than an elementary education. The deaconess, however, could get a good education and pursue a meaningful career free from family responsibilities and the constant burden of childbearing, which accompanied most marriages. She was, in a relative sense, a liberated woman, a pioneer professional woman within the protective circle of the church. 
Because family ties in the nineteenth century were strong, the Fliedners wisely made parental consent one of the requirements of admission for deaconess work.  But unlike the Roman Catholic sister, who was "married to the church" for life, the deaconess was free to leave her work and return to her family at any time if the need arose for her to care for aged parents. Celibacy was a foregone conclusion, not because of church doctrine, but as a matter of practical necessity. No woman in the 1800s could have managed the time-consuming duties of caring for a large family and also give herself to the full-time, sixteen-hour-a-day work of a deaconess sister. 
If a deaconess did wish to marry, she was free to leave the sisterhood at any time to do so and many did. The General Conference of Deaconess Motherhouses, meeting in Kaiserswerth in 1891, reaffirmed this position:
As a deaconess is free to remain single, so she retains the freedom at all times to enter wedlock in a lawful manner. Neither before nor after consecration need she promise to remain single, but she honestly declares that after mature examination before God and her conscience it is her deliberate and firm determination to be a deaconess and to remain single so long as it may please God. 
Deaconess sisters who did not marry and remained in the profession were assured complete care in old age and in times of disability and illness. Such was possible only within the motherhouse setting, where the deaconess sisters served one another as well as others in need of help. Lifetime care was a necessity, because the sisters received only a small stipend for personal use and no salary. They could not, therefore, accumulate personal savings. Such a support system was an early form of social security and provided wonderfully liberating opportunities for the women who chose to become deaconesses. No worries about old age! In a society where, until recently, most women depended on the men of the family for financial security, deaconess work provided an attractive alternative.
The motherhouse, as organized at Kaiserswerth by the Fliedners, had two other functions. It was also a training school and a local congregation.
Because a deaconess is first of all "a disciple of the Lord," the sisters who lived together in a motherhouse constituted a community of believers that functioned much like a local congregation.  Morning prayers in the chapel, which always adjoined the motherhouse, and evening prayers after the workday ended were standard.
The executive deaconess, or Sister Superior, managed the internal affairs of the sisterhood, assisted by committees that were usually chosen democratically.  A pastor served as the superintendent of the institution engaged in deaconess work. He conducted worship services, supervised the spiritual training of the probationers, and sometimes served as business manager and public relations director. 
The most revolutionary contribution of the Fliedners in their Kaiserswerth model for deaconess work was in the area of training. They required that the training be threefold: spiritual, intellectual, and technical. This concept changed the entire image of nurses, who were not held in high regard in the early nineteenth century. Most so-called hospitals were miserable places where people went only as a last resort to die.
The first half of the nineteenth century stands as a grim period in hospital history.... Hospital wards were filled with discharging wounds which made the atmosphere so offensive that perfume was required. The nurses of that period are said to have adopted the use of snuff to make conditions tolerable. Surgeons wore their operating coats for months without having them washed, and the same bed linen served several patients. Pain, hemorrhage, infection and gangrene were rife in the wards. Mortality from surgical operations was as high as ninety and even one hundred percent....
Nursing was, if possible, on an even lower plane than medicine and surgery... The nurses were often of the criminal class, had no religious spirit of self-sacrifice, and exploited and abused the patients. 
Theodore Fliedner had visited many such hospitals and was deeply moved and distressed by what he had seen:
I had not infrequently found the gates adorned with marble, when the nursing within was bad. The medical staff complained bitterly of the hireling attendants, of their carelessness by day and by night, of their drunkenness and other immoralities. And what should I say of the spiritual attendance. Little thought was given to that. 
With the motherhouse as a training school the deaconess sisters soon became superior in all three aspects of their work—spiritual, intellectual, and technical. The training was systematic and thorough.  As a result, doctors could write orders and know that consistent, careful, loving care would be given in their absence by deaconess nurses. These methods were studied by many visitors who came to Kaiserswerth. Florence Nightingale wrote:
The Sisters are, however, bound, of course, punctually to obey the directions of the medical man, and they are too well trained not to do so, with far more correctness than is found in other hospitals.
The superintending Sister of every ward is always present during the daily visits of the medical man. The apothecary is a Sister, and she goes the round of the patients with him, noting down all his prescriptions and directions which she afterwards transcribes into a book. 
This was the beginning of structured nursing care.
Other visitors to Kaiserswerth, such as Jane Bancroft, a prominent Methodist educator from the United States, called attention to the spiritual assistance that the deaconess sisters were able to give the patients:
[The deaconess] must follow strictly the doctor's orders in all matters pertaining to diet, medicine and ventilation, and must inform him daily of the patient's state. She also assists the clergyman, if desired, in ministering to spiritual needs. 
The image of the nurse had changed completely. The deaconess sisters, who were spiritually, intellectually, and technically trained, brought dignity to the work of serving the sick. As in the days of the early Christian church, they transformed service to ministry. Modern theologian Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, describing the women of the New Testament, says: "In [the Gospel of] Mark, to serve is not a humiliating activity but a mutual giving and taking, a self-surrender and mutual acceptance, and exchange of love, tenderness, help and comfort."  This description could apply to the deaconess nurse of modern times as well.
Three types of deaconess service
Prominent though it was, nursing was not the only type of service for which deaconess sisters were trained. Teaching and parish work were of equal importance, and missionary work combined all three.  Every deaconess sister was, however, trained first as a nurse regardless of her subsequent responsibilities, "because in no other way can her physical and mental powers be so thoroughly disciplined as by nursing." 
Teaching became an area of increasingly specialized service as hospitals grew more complex and deaconesses on training school faculties found it necessary to prepare themselves with highly skilled professional qualifications and advanced academic degrees. Some became very able scholars. 
The parish deaconess combined teaching and nursing with her spiritual training and was, in reality, an assistant pastor. Fliedner designated parish deaconess work as "the crown of the female diaconate, that is, the highest development or most perfect form of it."  The parish deaconess was responsible for Christian education, social work, and home visitation all part of the ministry that the pastor of a large parish could not do alone. 
The uniform type of dress, or garb, that the deaconess sisters wore identified them immediately wherever they went. At first, Fliedner had suggested only simplicity of dress, but circumstances soon compelled him to prescribe a special garb, because "it is well known that feminine nature is easily beguiled on this subject, for which reason a precise and minute rule is necessary. " 
The garb had a number of advantages. It wiped out all differences in birth and position and symbolized the spiritual relationship of the sisters to one another. Equally important was the fact that
the deaconess garb is a constant reminder of the dignity of the calling; it is also a protection, for a deaconess may go at any time of the day or night, in pursuit of her calling, and may appear anywhere, without molestation. Her dress is, so to say, her ticket of admission, her letter of recommendation. 
Although some deaconess sisters did not like wearing garb that made them all look the same, most welcomed it.  The simple, long, black dress, usually worn with a white collar for street wear and with a white apron for work, and a small cap tied on with a bow was much easier to care for than the many petticoats, tucks, and ruffles worn by most women during the nineteenth century. The garb liberated the deaconess from much of the drudgery of the flatiron and from the tyranny of trying to keep up with the Gibson girl image that was held up as the ideal for women at the turn of the century.  "The garb cuts off at once all luxury in attire and saves much money, time and thought which women think they must spend in order to keep their clothing in current fashion." 
From time to time the garb was updated in most of the sisterhoods in the United States until it was finally replaced with the standard white nurse's uniform in the 1920s for the deaconess nurse on duty and with the neatly designed, classic, dark blue shirtwaist dress for other occasions.
As the garb changed the deaconess pin became the primary means of identification for a deaconess sister. The Fliedners had discouraged the wearing of gold crosses or any other ornamentation as smacking of Romanism,  but Lutheran deaconesses in the United States usually wore a large silver cross.  Some deaconess sisters wore a pin similar to that of the Red Cross, but the Evangelical deaconess sisters adopted the distinctive, widely accepted deaconess pin based on the symbol of the Kaiserswerth Motherhouse.
The symbol of Kaiserswerth is a white dove, carrying an olive branch, resting against a blue ground. The blue flag floats from the old windmill tower on the river bank, attracting the attention of the traveler as he floats up the Rhine. 
Printed papers from Kaiserswerth were marked with a woodcut of the symbol of the dove and the olive branch. 
The deaconess pin has a white dove, denoting purity, on a blue background, representing courage and faithfulness, with a gold cross, signifying commitment to Christ and his work, all surrounded with a gold olive wreath, representing God's eternal and encompassing love. The pin was presented to the deaconess sister at the time of her consecration. Although simple in design, like the garb, it was not easy to obtain. Three to four years of intensive training, many long hours of practical experience, plus evidence of deep Christian commitment preceded consecration.
The Order for the Consecration of Deaconesses was prescribed in The Evangelical Book of Worship  and was similar to the liturgical procedure used in the ordination of a pastor. The order included the laying on of hands and an ordination prayer dating back to the fourth century.  In Kaiserswerth the consecration of a deaconess concluded with the sacrament of communion.
As part of her consecration a deaconess promised obedience to God and the rules of the motherhouse, willingness to do any work required, and faithfulness in all things.  This promise was not considered a vow for life, such as in the Roman Catholic Church, but a pledge in regard to a certain vocation. It was believed that the one vow of a Christian is the baptismal vow and that no special vow was justified. 
After consecration a deaconess was addressed as Sister, a title of respect that was not only biblically based but also descriptive of her life-style:
The name Sister, by which Christian custom addresses the deaconesses, beautifully expresses the communion of faith, in which they stand.... A simpler and more suitable name for the deaconess cannot be imagined. Together with the prescribed dress, this name wipes out all differences of birth and position. 
The practice of calling deaconesses by their baptismal names instead of their family names was another affirmation of the family character of the motherhouse in which they lived. So it was that the first two deaconess sisters of the Evangelical Synod were addressed as Sister Katherine and Sister Lydia.
The deaconess outreach
As soon as Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis was opened, in 1889, it was filled with patients, which prompted an urgent call for more deaconesses. Members of the first Board of Directors of the Evangelical Deaconess Society wrote articles in the widely circulated official church paper, Der Friedensbote, describing the wonderful opportunities that deaconess work offered to young women in the church. 
A few years later the Evangelical Deaconess Society of St. Louis began publishing its own monthly periodical, Der Evangelische Diakonissenfreund, in order to publicize deaconess work and to reach a wider audience for recruitment purposes. This publication and its successors were edited by the Rev. Frederick P. Jens. Throughout his forty-one years as Superintendent of the Deaconess Home and Hospital in St. Louis, Jens was a strong advocate of deaconess work and gave leadership to the Protestant Deaconess Conference, organized in 1894, and to the Evangelical Deaconess Association, organized in 1908. He translated from the German the widely used Principles of Deaconess Work, which was published by the Association in 1918. The Rev. Gustav Niebuhr was likewise a leader in the Protestant Deaconess Conference and a founding member of the Evangelical Deaconess Association. He edited Der Diakonissen-Herold, which was published for recruitment and informational purposes by the Deaconess Home and Hospital in Lincoln, Illinois. 
Slowly at first but then in growing numbers the young women of the church responded to the opportunities to become deaconesses. Because the seminaries were closed to them, deaconess work was the only way women could hope to have a full-time professional career in the church, and many were interested.
The St. Louis Motherhouse, patterned in most respects after the Kaiserswerth model, became the primary training center for deaconess sisters in the Evangelical Synod. In its nearly one hundred years it trained more than five hundred deaconess sisters  and sent many of them out to ministries of the church, including service in the following benevolent institutions:
Bensenville, Home Society, Bensenville, Illinois; Caroline Mission, St. Louis, Missouri; Evangelical Children's Home, St. Louis, Missouri; Evangelical Home for the Aged, Rochester, New York; Good Samaritan Home for the Aged, St. Louis, Missouri; St. Paul's Evangelical Old Folk's Home, Belleville, Illinois.
The deaconess sisters became leaders in almost every professional specialty related to modern health care and also served as teachers, parish assistants, and as missionaries in Ecuador, Honduras, and India. When the Conference of Deaconesses of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was organized in 1952, some of the deaconess sisters gave outstanding leadership. They also held prominent positions when the first Interdenominational Deaconess Conference in the United States was convened in St. Louis in 1956. 
As in many human endeavors, there were abuses. Deaconess sisters were often overworked, and some were sent without warning on overnight assignments that lasted for years. But there were also satisfactions and joys, and these predominated. The oral histories of the deaconesses of the St. Louis Motherhouse attest to this. Many sisters declare in retrospect, "I would do it all over again." 
Five capable deaconesses in St. Louis have served as Sister Superior, or Executive Deaconess: Sister Katherine Haack (1889-97), Sister Magdalene Gerhold (1897-1930), Sister Alvina Scheid(1930-42), Sister Olivia Drusch (1942-54), and Sister Frieda Ziegler (1954- ). Each brought her own unique ability to this leadership role, and together they contributed a continuity of purpose and direction to the sisterhood.
The deaconess legacy
All the deaconess sisters of the United Church of Christ are now retired. Two live in Marshalltown, Iowa; one in Faribault, Minnesota; and twenty-five in the Sisters' Home in St. Louis, located in the middle of the large Deaconess Hospital and Deaconess College of Nursing complex to which they contributed so much time and talent. Recruitment for deaconesses was discontinued in the 1950s. Once again times had changed. As many new opportunities for full-time Christian service in the church became available to women, all the seminaries of the United Church of Christ began accepting women in preparation for ordination. The deaconess calling became that of the pastor.
In retirement the deaconess sisters applaud this new day, which comes full circle to apostolic times, when women and men working together in leadership roles carried the church to the frontiers of new ministries in a world of great need.
As pioneer professional women of the church, the deaconess sisters have been the "forerunners of the ordination of women in Protestant denominations."" One can truly say that "the whole church is richer through the gifts and grace of these dedicated women." 
Ruth W. Rasche is Archivist for the Deaconess Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri. She is involved in preparations for the centennial of the Deaconess movement in St. Louis in 1989 and is a member of the UCC Historical Council.
1. Elizabeth Schôssler Fiorenza, "Word, Spirit and Power: Women in Early Christian Communities" in Rosemary Ruether and Eleanor McLaughlin, eds., Women of Spirit, FemaleLeadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), p.36.
2. Jane M. Bancroft, Deaconesses in Europe and Their Lessons for America (New York:Hunt and Eaton, 1890), p. 23, and Henry Wheeler, Deaconesses Ancient and Modern (NewYork: Hunt and Eaton, 1889), p. 87.
3. Evangelical Deaconess Society of St. Louis, Missouri, Eleventh Annual Report, 1899 (St. Louis: Eden Publishing House), pp. 9-10.
4. C. Colder, History of the Deaconess Movement in the Christian Church (Cincinnati: Jennings and Pye, 1903), p. 299.
5. Evangelical Deaconess Society of St. Louis, Missouri, Fifteenth Annual Report, 1904(St. Louis: Eden Publishing House), p. 11.
6. Evangelical Deaconess Society of St. Louis, Missouri, Articles of Association, Article II, 1891 (State of Missouri).
7. Ibid., Article IV.
8. Evangelical Deaconess Society, Eleventh Annual Report, op. cit., p. 10.
9. "Immigration to the United States," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1958, 15:467. John M. McGuire, "They Settled in Missouri's Rhineland," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 29, 1983, p. 1F, describes the hardships of settlers in Missouri. A typhoid epidemic in Lincoln, Illinois, gave impetus to the establishment of deaconess work there, as reported in St. John Church, Lincoln, Illinois 1860-1960 (Lincoln, Illinois, N.D.), p. 19.
10. Historical Sketches of The Congregational Christian Churches and The Evangelical and Reformed Church, published jointly by the Executive Committee of the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches and the General Council of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, June 1955, pp. 29 30. Also see Golder, op. cit., pp. 284, 291-95, 466-67.
11. Golder, op. cit., pp. 69, 604-5.
12. Ibid., p. 273, and Carl J. Scherzer, The Church and Healing (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1950), pp. 121-28.
13. Golder, op. cit., p. 60.
14. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 179, and Sister Julie Mergner, The Deaconess and Her Work, trans. Mrs. Adolph Spaeth (Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publishing House, 1911), p. 46.
15. Sir Edward Cook, A Short Life of Florence Nightingale, abr. Rosalind Nash (New York: Macmillan, 1925), p. 47.
16. Anne L. Austin, History of Nursing Source Book (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1957), p. 196. This quotation is from Florence Nightingale in a letter to the British Museum in 1897.
17. Rosemary Ruether, "Mothers of the Church: Ascetic Women in the Late Patristic Age" in Ruether and McLaughlin, op. cit., pp. 72-73.
18. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 183. The other requirements for admission at that time were earnest Christian character; good health; basic ability in reading, writing, and arithmetic; and being between eighteen and forty years of age.
19. Christian Golder, The Deaconess Motherhouse in Its Relation to the Deaconess Work(Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Printing Company, 1907), pp. 54-55.
20. Ibid., p. 102.
21. Ibid., p. 49. The Deaconess Chapel United Church of Christ was officially organized in St. Louis in 1950. Its membership is limited to deaconess sisters.
22. Austin, op. cit., p. 195. Information is from a booklet written by Florence Nightingale in 1851, after her first visit to Kaiserswerth, entitled, "The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses."
23. Golder, Deaconess Motherhouse, op. cit., p. 35.
24. Malcolm T. MacEachern, Hospital Organization and Management, 2d ed. (Chicago: Physicians Record Co., 1947), p. 16.
25. Austin, op. cit., p. 189. Quotation is from a pamphlet, Kurzer Abriss seines Lebens, by Theodore Fliedner.
26. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 287, and Golder, Deaconess Motherhouse, op. cit., pp. 42 43.
27. Austin, op. cit., p. 193.
28. Bancroft, op. cit., p. 83.
29. Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, The Women Around Jesus, trans. John Bowden (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1982). p. 111.
30. Emil Wacker, The Deaconess Calling, trans. B. A. Endlich, 1893 (Guetersloh: Bertelman, 1888), p. 106.
31. Golder, Deaconess Motherhouse, op. cit., pp. 84-85.
32. Sister Elizabeth Schaefer of the Deaconess Motherhouse in St. Louis became an able Greek scholar and read her daily devotions from the Bible in the original Greek until she was past ninety. (Information from The Deaconess Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.)
33. Mergner, op. cit., p. 192, and Principles of Deaconess Work, published by the authority of the Federation of Evangelical Deaconess Associations in the Evangelical Synod of North America (St. Louis: Eden Publishing House, 1918), pp. 82-86.
34. Adele E. Hosto, "Principles and Experiences in Parish Deaconess Work," Der Evangelische Diakonissen-Herold 10, no. 2 (February 1916):4. Sister Adele Hosto was the only deaconess sister in the United Church of Christ who devoted her entire career exclusively to parish work. Many others did so for given periods of time.
35. Golder, Deaconess Motherhouse, op. cit., p. 109.
36. Principles of Deaconess Work, op. cit., p. 38.
37. Oral history tapes of individual deaconess sisters in The Deaconess Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.
38. Pamela Neal Warford, "The Social Origins of Female Iconography: Selected Images of Women in American Popular Culture, 1890-1945" (Ph.D. diss., St. Louis University, 1979),2, 28.
39. Principles of Deaconess Work, op. cit., p. 37.
40. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 289.
42. Bancroft, op. cit., p. 91.
43. Wheeler, op. cit., p. 281.
44. Published by the German Evangelical Synod of North America (St. Louis and Chicago: Eden Publishing House, 1916), pp. 228 31.
45. Prayer used in Order of Consecration of Deaconesses: "Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and woman, who didst fill with Thy Spirit Miriam and Deborah and Hannah and Huldah, who didst in the tabernacle of the testimony and in the temple ordain women to be keepers of Thy holy gates, who also didst not disdain that Thine only begotten Son should be born of a woman; do Thou also look down upon these Thy servants who now have been set apart to the ministry of Deaconesses; grant them the gift of Thy Holy Spirit, and cleanse them from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, that they may worthily discharge the work committed unto them to Thine honor, and to the praise of Jesus Christ, to whom with Thee, and the Holy Spirit be glory and adoration for ever and ever. Amen."
46. Bancroft, op. cit., p. 85.
47. Principles of Deaconess Work, op. cit., pp. 28-33.
48. Wacker, op. cit., p. 95.
49. Ibid., p. 85.
50. C. Fritsch, "Diakonissenbriefe," Der Friedensbote 40, no. 21:166 (November 1, 1889), and J.P. Irion, "Em Wart an unsre Christlichen Jungfrauenund wen er sonst angeht," Der Friedensbote 40, no. 7 (September 1889):134.
51. Evangelical Deaconess Society of St. Louis, Missouri, Fiftieth Annual Report, 1939, (St. Louis: Eden Publishing House), p. 23.
52. William G. Chrystal, A Father's Mantle: The Legacy of Gustav Niebuhr (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1982), pp. 77 94, gives an excellent account of Pastor Niebuhr's work in the deaconess movement.
53. Evangelical Deaconess Society, Forty-Ninth Annual Report, 1938, p. 8, reports that 454 deaconess sisters had been in training up to that time. Succeeding reports add more.
54. Mary Lou Barnwell, "Joining Hands in Christian Service," The Methodist Woman, July-August 1956, p. 8, speaks of Sister Pauline Becker's leadership as Field Secretary. 55. Oral history tapes, op. cit.
56. Ruether and McLaughlin, Introduction, op. cit., p. 24.
57. Minutes, Twelfth General Synod, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 22-26, 1979, United Church of Christ, p. 72.
The average American history student learns about William Lloyd Garrison and the Quakers as the leaders of the antislavery cause. How many hear about the "evangelical" abolitionists or the American Missionary Association (AMA) and its predecessors, the Amistad Committee and the Union Missionary Society (UMS), covering the years 1839 to 1878? Garrison's periodical, The Liberator, had perhaps two thousand subscribers at its height, whereas The American Missionary, organ of the AMA, was read by twenty thousand church members. Garrison's repute is helped by the glowing biography written of him by his children and by the fact that The Liberator was preserved by the Boston Public Library and has been available for reading during these one hundred plus years. The AMA had no central repository for its archives. Its papers were sent to Fisk University, where they were stored in a room with an open window. Ten percent of them were destroyed by weather. In 1969 the papers were removed from Fisk for microfilming and were then housed temporarily in the newly created Amistad Research Center, which occupied several rooms of the Dillard University library, in New Orleans. In 1973 the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries relinquished control of the Center to a private board, on which it maintains only a minority presence.
The AMA was founded by leaders of both races who had much in common: All were political abolitionists, members of the Liberty and the Free Soil parties; all were opposed to colonization (the return of blacks to Africa); and all were church members of liberal communions. Most of the whites were Congregationalists. The blacks were Congregational or Presbyterian ministers. All believed in the equality of the races and insisted on integration in their activities. In this they stand in contrast to Garrison and his followers, who talked and wrote much about freeing the slaves but used blacks only in servile positions in the office or as oratorical performers on the lecture circuit. Even most of the Quakers, who historically have high marks as antislavery workers, were not comfortable enough in their race relations to admit black members into their societies.
Among its officers and members the AMA counted persons of stature in public and private life: the vice president of the United States, the governors of Massachusetts and of Connecticut, members of Congress, ministers of the gospel, and a state supreme court justice, all of whom were white. Its black members included newspaper editors and publishers, leaders of the Negro Convention movement, authors, members of Congress, ministers of the gospel, and a state supreme court justiceã"men of mark," as Lewis Tappan called them.
The AMA was established because two older ecumenical bodies, the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS) and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), refused to take forthright stands against slavery and accepted contributions from slaveholders. In addition to missions in Africa, Hawaii, Siam, Jamaica, and Egypt as well as among the American Indians, the immigrant Chinese, and the poor whites of the United States, the AMA founded more than five hundred schools and colleges for the freedmen of the South during and after the Civil War, spending more money for that purpose than the Freedman's Bureau of the federal government. 
Just to name some of the schools in which the AMA played a major role is to see the scope of its influence in the field of education in the South: Howard University, Berea College, Hampton Institute, Atlanta University, Fisk University, Straight (now Dillard) University, Tougaloo College, Talladega College, LeMoyne (now LeMoyne-Owen) College, Tillotson (now Huston-Tillotson) College, Avery Institute.
This was the gift of New England to the freed Negro; not alms, but a friend; not cash, but character. It was not and is not money these seething millions want, but love and sympathy. . . which once saintly souls brought to their favored children in the crusade of the sixties, that finest thing in American History, and one of the few things untainted by sordid greed and cheap vainglory. The teachers in these institutions came not to keep the Negroes in their place, but to raise them out of the places of defilement where slavery had wallowed them. The colleges they founded were social settlements; homes where the best of the sons of the freedmen came in close and sympathetic touch with the best traditions of New England. They lived and ate together, studied and worked, hoped and hearkened in the dawning light. In actual formal content their curriculum was doubtless old-fashioned, but in educational power it was supreme, for it was the contact of living souls. 
To tell the story of the AMA fully is to explore its New England heritage and the minds of those, like Tappan, who were instrumental in its origins: the influence of Charles G. Finney and the distinctive revivalism associated with him and with Congregationalism; the influences of Oneida Institute, Yale University, and Oberlin; the interaction of liberal nineteenth-century theology and radical abolitionism. It is also to tell the story of many black Americans who worked for the cause of Christian freedom and justice.
Although the AMA was not begun primarily for black persons, more of them served on its board and were commissioned by it than is true of any other predominantly white benevolent organization. More than five hundred black personsãofficers, teachers, and missionariesãcan be identified (not always easy in view of the color-blind nature of the AMA) among the AMA workers during the period covered by the archives. This remarkable record was achieved because of the uncompromising belief in freedom and equality on the part of the founders of the AMA. 
Most of the great black heroes of the nineteenth century had at least some relationship with the AMA. Even Frederick Douglass, who was aided in publishing his paper by officers of the AMA and who often worshiped in the First Congregational Church of Washington, DC, although castigating other benevolent organizations for their paternalism, excepted the AMA and described it as a "society honestly laboring to disseminate light and hope amongst us."
In the spring of 1839 African slavers kidnapped and sold a group of their compatriots to a Portuguese trader, who transported them in irons to Havana, Cuba, and resold them. Thus began the celebrated Amistad incident.  Fifty-four of the slaves mutinied, murdered some of the crew, and caused the remainder to sail into Long Island Sound and the jurisdiction of the American courts. New England antislavery forces rallied to form a committee to cover court costs and help the Africans return to their homeland. Before it ended the affair involved Presidents Martin Van Buren and John Tyler, former President John Quincy Adams (who acted as defense attorney in the final appeal before the Supreme Court), the possibility of war with Spain, and the establishment of the Mendi Mission in Africa. The Amistad Committee—Lewis Tappan, Simeon Smith Jocelyn, and Joshua Leavittãchosen after the adjournment of a meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society, raised the funds for the care of the Africans and for their trials. 
The effort and the money that were expended turned out to be good investments. The Amistad case was not only a propellant for the antislavery cause, but also something more: Coming as it did at the time of schism in the American Anti-Slavery Society, it provided Tappan and the evangelical abolitionists with a new direction for the war on slavery and a national voice with which to address church members and speak for them. (This was particularly important for the Congregationalists whose denomination had no national organization until the start of the Congregational Union, in 1854.)
Tappan, New York merchant and transplanted New England Congregationalist, was the organizational genius of the abolition movement. He gave the AMA its spirit, its name, and his services as treasurer without pay for nineteen years. This magnificent American, for whom no definitive biography exists, lived his Christian faith although his life was threatened, his home ransacked and his possessions burned, and he was forced out of his church. He taught an integrated Sunday school and advocated integrated public schools in the belief that blacks and whites could know each other as adults only if they grew up together. When one of the Mendi (Africa) missionaries wrote to the "Rooms" in New York asking what the AMA officers would think if he were to marry an African woman, Tappan's answer was, "White or black, whom God puts together let no man put asunder." Small wonder that such a man and his fellow workers attracted leading black abolitionists to the AMA. 
Union Missionary Society
Prompted by the plight of the Amistad Africans on trial in his own state, James William Charles Pennington, pastor of the Talcott Street Congregational Church (black), in Hartford, Connecticut, issued a call for a Missionary Convention of black persons to consider the needs of Africa "because the exigencies of that country are great" and "because we are desirous that something should be done by us for the land which our fathers loved as the land of their nativity." The time was right, for blacks had no missionary society and Christian duty demanded that they follow the Great Commission of Jesus.
Blacks like Pennington who overcame the enormous infirmities of slavery gave abolitionists irrefutable evidence of their equality. Pennington had no known white ancestors. When he escaped slavery, at age twenty-one, he could not read, yet within five years he was an accredited teacher at New Town, Long Island. After his escape he worked during the day and studied at night to make up for the deprivation his mind had suffered in childhood. To prepare himself for the Christian ministry he went to New Haven. Pennington lacked the educational qualifications to enter Yale Seminary as a student but was allowed to audit courses. At the same time he served the Temple Street Congregational Church (founded by Simeon Smith Jocelyn and later served by Amos Gerry Beman), having been licensed in 1838. Two years later he began his work as pastor of the Talcott Street Congregational Church of Hartford.
The convention that created the Union Missionary Society (UMS) in Hartford, on August 18, 1841, was composed "chiefly" of "people of color" from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Pennington was chosen president; the Rev. Amos Gerry Beman of New Haven, corresponding secretary; the Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright of New York, treasurer; and the Rev. Josiah Brewer (who was white) of Wethersfield, Connecticut, chairman of the executive committee. Tappan was elected to an office in absentia but declined. He did not think the time was right to enter into competition with the ABCFM. He still hoped that the foreign mission board would be persuaded to denounce slavery. Lewis, his brother Arthur, and many other abolitionists were convinced that the means for defeating slavery lay in the institutions of evangelical Protestantism. Slavery could not stand for one hour, they said, if the churches denounced it. The Amistad Committee agreed to sever its ties with the Africans and turn over its funds to the ABCFM, "provided assurance was given that it should be an anti-slavery mission" to be founded when the Africans were returned home. The Board declined the offer, and three New York abolitionists found themselves—rather reluctantly—in the missionary business. The group of missionaries sent to Africa with the Amistads included a black man and his wife under the care of the UMS. Tappan wanted the new mission to be headed by Pennington, but Pennington could not be persuaded to accept the position. His congregation had doubled in the year he had served it, but he feared what would happen if he left so soon. And he was also the president of the infant UMS, which would "need much labor to make it go." At its first annual meeting, in 1842, the UMS absorbed the Amistad Committee. This time Tappan accepted the office of corresponding secretary, but the organization was still predominantely black, with few sources of funds and little interest shown in it by most white abolitionists.
American Missionary Association founded
The action that finally prompted evangelical abolitionists to found a missionary society of the "whole gospel" took place two weeks before the Liberty Party convention in 1845. The ABCFM issued a statement to the effect that it was against slavery but would not direct its missionaries among the American Indian tribes to refuse church membership to Indians who owned slaves. One hundred people—one tenth of those at the conventionãheld a special meeting and decided on action. They reluctantly chose to start another missionary society in the place of those they had long sustained with their gifts. They determined that it would be democratically organized, unlike the old societies, whose boards were self-perpetuating and independent of their supporters.
After an initial meeting in Albany, part of the so-called burnt-over district and birthplace of so many nineteenth-century enthusiasms, the AMA was born in 1846.
Black leadership before the Civil War
Of the twelve men who served on the first board of the AMA four were Afro-Americans: Theodore S. Wright, Samuel Ringgold Ward, James Pennington, and Charles Bennett Ray. In later years Samuel E. Cornish, Henry Highland Garnet, Amos N. Freeman, and Sella Martin also served as officers. They were unusual men. Each had taken full advantage of the grudging opportunities afforded his race for education in the North. And having secured that hard-won prize for himself, each entered the fight to secure the blessings of education and first-class citizenship for all his race. Most of them had edited newspapers at some period of their lives, and all contributed widely to black and abolitionist publications. Although their lives were quickened by the urgency of the larger task, with the exception of Cornish, their purposes were tempered by the necessity of earning enough money to support their families. Their towers were neither covered with ivy nor made of ivory. These men were in the ranks daily, battling for and among their fellows.
Ray and Wright were free-born New Englanders. Freeman may have been as well, for he was ordained in Maine in 1841 and served the Fourth Congregational Church in Portland. Ray and Tappan were two of the founders of an integrated church in New York. Ray also served the AMA as auditor and as urban missioner in New York City, starting another Congregational church there. In 1828 Wright graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, the first black person to receive a theological degree in the United States. He was a fervent critic of the colonization scheme. His time on the AMA executive committee ended with his death, in 1847.
Cornish was born in Delaware and educated in Philadelphia. He founded the First Colored Presbyterian Church in New York in 1822 and served it until Wright became its minister, in 1828. Later, as Shiloh Presbyterian Church, it and its minister removed to the Free School Presbytery. Cornish was an editor of the first black newspaper in America and remained a vice president of the AMA until his death, in 1858.
Pennington, Garnet, and Ward were slaves who escaped from Maryland. Garnet and Ward were brought north by their parents as young children. Garnet, second (perhaps) only to Frederick Douglass in leadership among black Americans, was a magnificent orator. In 1865, on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, he was the first black person to address Congress. He died in Liberia in 1882, having been appointed U.S. Minister by President James A. Garfield, who served the AMA as trustee of Hampton Institute.
Ward was a home missionary of the AMA as well as a member of the executive committee. During the time he was one of the managers of the UMS he served the Congregational church at South Butler, New York. This church was well known for its progressive leadership. In 1853 it was the first church in a major American denomination to ordain a woman. Still later it sent the AMA its first superintendent to work among freed slaves.
Martin was born in North Carolina. His father was also his owner. He grew up in urban areas and managed to learn to read. Unlike most escapees, Martin made his way north from the deep South when he was twenty-three. His escape did not come until 1855, five years after the Fugitive Slave Law had wrought such havoc in the lives of Ward, Pennington, and Garnet, all of whom were forced to flee the country. Garnet left his position as a home missionary for the AMA, commissioned to start integrated Congregational churches in New York State, to flee to Great Britain and then on to Jamaica as a missionary of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland (antislavery and not the established church). Pennington went to Great Britain. Under AMA auspices Ward chose to go to the Canadian West, because the AMA thought this field was the most difficult in its home mission work. He started a newspaper for the black refugees who were there, and then he also went to Great Britain.
Not all the AMA home missionaries before the Civil War were men. The most interesting of the women and probably the most "temperamental" of them allãmen or womenãwas Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She eventually became one of the first black women lawyers in North America, but before that she took over Samuel Ward's paper in the Canadian West and became the first woman editor, white or black. The AMA found her to be both an able teacher of the fugitive slaves and a worthy opponent in disputes. She took on the eminent black men of her time, including Frederick Douglass, in the surviving portions of her newspaper. She also challenged the men at AMA headquarters for their lack of faith in her dedication to integrated schools. Despite her vitriolic attacks in letters and in her paper, the AMA recognized her ability. She later worked for the association at the Lincoln School, in Washington, DC.
Schools for freed slaves
The coming of the war found the AMA ready and in place with a decade and a half of experience as a missionary society. AMA missionaries and teachers followed the Union armies, establishing schools wherever and as soon as the military situation permitted. That the freedmen were taught by New England schoolmarms was a myth. True, a number of the teachers were women, but fully a third were men. Many came from New England, but a large number also came from New York, Michigan, Ohio, and elsewhere. Most important: Some of them, men and women, were black. Some, like their white counterparts, had received their higher education at Oberlin College, remarkable in its day for its acceptance of blacks and women.
Men or women, black or white, what courage they needed! And what stamina! Ignored, insulted, hated by the white population, they persevered through disease and terror and suffered many hardships. Refused housing by whites, they often shared the poor homes and poverty of black families. All week they taught: children in the daytime; classes at night for the adults; sewing, homemaking, and manual arts on Saturday; Sunday school on the sabbath. They worked when yellow fever, dengue, malaria, typhoid, and tuberculosis were scourges everywhere. Some died; some never fully recovered from fever contracted while in AMA service. The worst disease of all, however, was the prejudice and hate of the whites in the South. Letters in the archives document the shocking record. Male teachers were beaten and warned to leave or be killed. Some disappeared. Their schools were burned and they rebuilt them with their own hands. They started orphanages for black children and adopted some of the orphans themselves. The first teacher of the freedmen was one hired by the AMA. She was a woman but not a Yankee schoolmarm. Mary Smith Peake was a free citizen of the state of Virginia. She was born Mary Smith Kelsey in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1823. Her father was a white "Englishman of rank and culture" and her mother, a free mulatto. Thus a black woman had the honor of teaching the first day school for the freedmen. Her school in the Brown Cottage was the seed from which Hampton Institute would grow. Mary Peake's school included more than fifty children during the day and twenty adults at night. She became seriously ill but would not rest. On Washington's birthday in 1862 she died of tuberculosis. AMA secretary Simeon Smith Jocelyn called her a saint, and Brown Cottage became a sacred place.
Even when one discounts the Victorian's love of sentiment, one is awed by the evidence of affection bestowed on Mary Peake after her death. Two ministers wrote accounts of her life for publication. A brigade surgeon wrote an eulogy, and a regimental doctor wrote a poetic tribute. The Rev. Lewis C. Lockwood, AMA superintendent at Fortress Monroe, wrote that Mrs. Peake was missed "more and more" each day and that "she was indeed a queen among her kind." He had learned that the home and its furnishings that she had lost in the fire at Hampton almost equalled "the best in that aristocratic place." Yet she had been content to live in one room above the school, which Lockwood likened to the upper room of the Last Supper. She had erected to herself a "monument more enduring than brass or granite, by impressing her own image upon a group of susceptible pupils," in whom she would live again. "We never shall see her like again."
Until the AMA schools raised up their own teachers about 5 percent of the AMA workers were blacks. They were special folk indeed. They had acquired an education when most colleges were closed to blacks and women. At one point all the AMA teachers in Maryland were black women, an experiment to show how capable black women were. The idea was dropped immediately, however, lest white Southerners use it as evidence that black teachers and white teachers were incompatible. The names of these women do not appear in published histories. One of them was Edmonia Highgate, who, at nineteen, was already the principal of a school in Binghamton, New York. She and her family were members of Plymouth Church in Syracuse. Highgate had taught at Norfolk, Virginia; Darlington, Maryland; and New Orleans, Louisiana. In New Orleans she publicly attacked the school board for its segregation policies. Her students were fired on while they were on their way to school and so was her classroom while in session.
Before going to Louisiana, Highgate persuaded the AMA to make her their collecting agent, allowing her to send half of her receipts to the school taught by her mother, in Mississippi, and the other half to the AMA general fund. In the 1860s it was still an unusual occupation for any woman to travel about New York, New England, and Lower Canada, addressing meetings and raising money. For a woman of color to do it successfully says much about the AMA and Edmonia Highgate. She died while she was still young. The cause of her death remains unknown.
Two men who were products of the Mendi Mission in Africa became in fact missionaries to the United States. Thomas De Saliere Tucker, grandson of an African chief, during his second year at Oberlin College, offered to be a teacher of the freedmen. He was sent to aid Charles P. Day, a white teacher at Fortress Monroe. Day and Tucker lived in what was, ironically, the former summer home of President Tyler, who had been unwilling or unable to persuade the U.S. Navy to provide homeward passage for the Amistad Africans. Tucker did a credible job of teaching until he fell in love with a freed slave, Lucinda Spivery, who assisted in the Fortress Monroe school. This African aristocrat wrote the AMA that he did not think he should marry a woman that was so ignorant. Lewis Tappan probably made it possible for Lucinda to receive an educationãas he did for so many black youthãbecause some years later she was a regular teacher and her letters show her competence. Tucker finished his work at Oberlin and taught school in Kentucky and in Louisiana, where he edited several papers in New Orleans. He practiced law learned at Straight University and became the first president of Florida State Normal College, later Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, in Tallahassee.
Barnabas Root also was from the AMA Mendi Mission in Sierra Leone. Having graduated from Knox College in 1870 and from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1873, Root became a teacher and missionary among the freedmen. Unlike Tucker, Root's heart remained in Africa, and he returned in 1875. The Mendi missionaries died with such horrifying regularity that at one point Tappan called himself a murderer for sending women to that mission. The AMA always hoped that black Americans could withstand African diseases better than whites could. But Root, even though he was a child of Africa, did not survive long in Sierra Leone; he died in 1877. He spent his last days trying to finish a Mende language dictionary, which, along with his other books, formed the basis of a student library. In 1877 the AMA sent an all-black staff of missionaries to Mendi. All were graduates of AMA schools.
Another AMA gift to the world is the high regard in which the Negro spiritual is held today. The young black persons of the AMA colleges wanted to rid themselves of everything associated with slavery, including the old slave songs of their parents and grandparents. It took the appreciation of musicians like Adam K. Spence, principal of Fisk, and George L. White, who directed the world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers, to give the spiritual its place in America's music.
Because of having to begin with teaching the alphabet, AMA ''universities'' originally contained everything from the first grade through provisions for graduate studies in law, medicine, and theology. But standards were not lowered. The first collegiate degrees awarded to black persons in the South were earned by two men and one woman at Fisk in 1875, almost ten years after Fisk was opened in a deserted army barracks hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Not until twenty-six years after Talladega College was founded were its first A.B. degrees awarded, although many teaching certificates were given during those years.
In 1916 the U.S. Bureau of Education praised the AMA: "No denominational schools surpass those of this group in educational standards or administrative efficiency. It is probable that no church board has equaled this association in the thoroughness of its self-examination." 
The AMA started more than schools, however. An integral part of the United Church of Christ are the churches the AMA established alongside the schools. If a church in the South is named First Congregational and was founded during Reconstruction, it is generally a predominantely black church started by the AMA. At first no thought was given to transporting Congregationalism to the freedmen. Although the AMA received most of its support from Congregationalists, it was nonsectarian. In fact, the Wesleyan Methodists and Freewill Baptists preceded the National Council of Congregational Churches in officially recognizing the AMA as their "special instrumentality for reaching the freedmen." The AMA commissioned teachers of most denominations, requiring only that the teachers be "evangelical" Christians (a term that then still belonged to mainline Protestantism) without racial prejudice.
From the beginnings of the AMAãlong before the Civil Warãits leaders had hoped for and yet feared the freedom they worked so hard to attain. Freeing four million slaves meant dispersing throughout the country four million persons whose experience at the hands of the slaveholders had inculcated insincerity, cunning, dependency, and self-hate. Education, said the AMA, was not enough. In fact, an educated amoral person was more of a threat to society than an uneducated one. The Christian religion was as important a gift to the freedmen as education was. And having found the black churches of the slave states wanting in moral training and leadership, the AMA started churches as adjuncts to their schools. In thisãas in all its workãthe AMA was intent on preparing the former slaves to enter the mainstream of American life.
Clara Merritt DeBoer is a writer and teacher. This chapter is based on a doctoral dissertation she completed at Rutgers University, 1973, "The Role of Afro-Americans in the Origin and Work of the American Missionary Association: 1839-1877."
1. Richard Bryant Drake, "The American Missionary Association and the Southern Negro, 1861ã1888" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1957), 198.
2. W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (Milwood, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1973); italics added.
3. For the story of the American Missionary Association with an emphasis on what black persons did in and through it, see Clara Merritt DeBoer, 'The Role of Afro-Americans in the Origin and Work of the American Missionary Association: 1839ã1877' (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1973).
4. William A. Owens, Black Mutiny: The Revolt of the Schooner Amistad (New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1968).
5. For the best general picture of AMA work before the Civil War, see Clifton Herman Johnson, "The American Missionary Association, 1846ã1861: A Study of Christian Abolitionism" (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1959).
6. Clara Merritt DeBoer, "Lewis Tappan: Advocate of the Whole Gospel," AD. magazine, November 1977.
7. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1916, No. 38.
Written by William G. Chrystal
Congregationalism was ideally suited to the frontier, and Missionary Superintendent Julius Reed, one of Iowa Congregationalism's "sacred seven," thought it could provide German immigrants with a well-anchored religious life. According to George Eisenach, premier historian of the German movement, Reed "secured a number of German ministers and missionaries from Germany and Switzerland and from denominations in this country which had German preaching." He also petitioned the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS) for financial support. 
The AHMS, organized by four denominations in 1826 but funded and directed mainly by Congregationalists and Presbyterians, supported a variety of German pastors and churches, including Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Evangelical, in addition to Congregationalists. For example, no fewer than twenty-one pastors of the Kirchenverein des Westen (later the German Evangelical Synod of North America) received half their salaries from the AHMS between 1841 and 1862. 
Members of the AHMS had grown uneasy about aiding pastors and churches with lax membership standards. They abhorred the custom of admitting to full communion anyone who had a confirmation certificate, although this was a common practice in Germany.
That the membership of the German churches, in many instances, is made up without what appears to American Christians sufficient evidence of regeneration by the Spirit of God, there is no longer reason to doubt. . . . To aid in building up churches on such a foundation.., would lower the standard of godliness, encourage formality, and prepare the way for a religion of external display, and thus produce the very state of things which our pious fathers crossed the ocean to escape. 
Congregationalism among the Germans, as championed by Reed, offered a form of church organization that was ideally suited to frontier communities. It also emphasized vital personal religion growing out of an experience of conversion. Yet the preaching of repentance and conversion was almost unknown to those who were raised in the German Landeskirche (State Church). Congregationalism's first missionary to the Germans, Peter Fleury, recruited by Reed in 1846, was told by one, "In our country, thieves, murderers, and such people, have to do repentance, but we are Christians, by birth, baptism, and confirmation." 
Not simply a polity, Congregationalism spoke a religious language as foreign to most Germans as English was. Although pastors labored with zeal, the numbers remained small. In 1883 there were twenty-seven churches, with a total of 1,006 members.  They were "unaided, alone, divided among themselves, the prey of religious tramps from other churches." 
Viewed suspiciously by those who were affiliated with traditional German churches, German Congregational pastors were culled from many sources. The "Mission Houses" of Germany and Switzerland supplied a number of them, particularly St. Chrischona in Basel. Even though these missionaries had an ecumenical outlook, they failed to dispel the popular fear that being Congregational meant deserting the faith of one's ancestors. Peter Fleury told of a man who wanted to join a Congregational church being pulled from the room by his wife, who said, "You must not forsake the Lutheran faith." Another man, who, when asked if he liked Fleury's sermon, said, "Very much, it is all very good if it were but Lutheran." 
Germans in Prussia
If it were not for the influx of large numbers of German-speaking natives of Russia into the United States and Canada in the decades before and after 1900, the history of German Congregationalism could be presented in these few paragraphs, highlighting a small band of Reiseprediger (traveling preachers) and the congregations they gathered in the Middle West.  The immigration of these Germans from South Russia and the Volga region, beginning in 1872-73, brought a new urgency to the German work. Although foreign to most native Germans, Congregationalism appealed to Protestant Russlanddeutschen (Russia Germans), particularly those from Lutheran parishes. They had been raised in a milder Lutheranism than was often encountered in the United States, and some had actually experienced revival and regeneration in Russia. Mid-nineteenth century American Congregationalism offered a style of church life that was seemingly designed for them—a fact made clear when one looks at their unique social and religious development.
"A German is like a willow tree; stick it anywhere and it will take." This old Russian saying was a tribute to the industriousness of the thousands of Germans who immigrated to Russia beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, first to the north, or Volga region, around the city of Saratov, and later to the Ukraine and to Bessarabia, in the south.  The Russia Germans had transformed barren steppes into rich farmland, creating tidy communities that preserved their German heritage in unique ways.
Religion was at the center of their lives. A pledge of "unhindered freedom of worship" by Catherine the Great, in 1763, helped lure the Volga Germans from their homeland. Yet the colonists brought their own religious backgrounds. Of the 104 colonies established on the Volga from 1764 to 1768, for example, 29 were Catholic. Of the remaining colonies, three fourths were Lutheran and the rest, Reformed. 
A chronic shortage of clergy existed from the beginning. Priests sometimes ministered to Protestants, and theological differences between Lutherans and adherents of the Reformed faith were often minimized.  Although Russia German Lutherans embraced the Konkordienbuch (Book of Concord), as did Lutherans everywhere, one observer nonetheless noted: "The confessional status of the colonies is unclear."  Provincial in many ways, Russia German Protestants heard good sermons. Sometimes, however, the sermons were read by the local schoolteacher from a predigtbuch, or book of sermons, because the large parishes and scarcity of pastors made it impossible for all places to have a minister to officiate each Sunday.
Russian pastors were well trained, even by German standards. Many pastors, however, did affect one Russian Orthodox decoration. A number of pastors' pictures show them wearing the traditional pulpit gown and linen tabs, with a large crucifix suspended from a chain around the neck. 
A theological seminary had been founded at the University of Dorpat, in 1833, to train pastors for the Protestant colonies.  Some of Germany's best theologians taught there, including Luther scholar Theodosius von Harnack, who himself had attended Dorpat and whose son Adolf, one of Protestantism's most famous scholars, also studied there. The elder Harnack and church historian Moritz von Englehardt, who made a lasting impression on young Adolf, grappled with modern theology's weightiest themes. A strict Lutheran, Theodosius Harnack had even written a book condemning Herrnhut (Moravian) influence on the Lutheran church in Livonia, and Englehardt, teaching textual and source criticism almost radically, had reportedly known Herrnhut Pietism in his youth. Without doubt, Dorpat's seminary offered a theological spectrum as broad as any found in Germany. 
Pastors of Russia German churches, like all who deal in practical theology, spoke to concerns and temptations of everyday life: Aware that most parishioners owned only three books—the Bible, either Luther's catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism, depending on whether one was Lutheran or Reformed, and a gesangbuch (hymnal)—pastors illustrated sermons biblically and exhorted people to live their faith. They preached in irenic terms, appealing to the Bible rather than the symbolic books of the Reformation.
People wishing to scoff at us call us "Lutherans." Now, we are not ashamed of Luther's name. But when people mean our Lutheran church was built by Luther, so we say with Luther himself: That is untrue. Not Luther but Christ is the ground and cornerstone of our faith. 
Pastor C. Blum, of Krasnojar on the Volga, author of the sermon from which the above excerpt was taken, included it in Gnade um Gnade (Grace upon Grace), a book of sermons intended for church use in the pastor's absence. This book offered a sermon for each Sunday of the church year and for special days, opening and closing with a hymn selected from the Wolga Gesangbuch. Each sermon was built around a biblical text, which was quoted. The emphasis in the predigtbuch is uniform. Blum urged his hearers to live holy lives. On Reformation Sunday he sounded his theme plainly enough: "We Evangelical Christians are clever enough at debate, but are lazy at a holy way of Life." 
Despite strong faith in many homes, enough people turned their backs on the church to be noticed.
If the pastor's exceptionally sensitive
Singing and drinking arouse his anger.
He thunders and he threatens;
Has done so many years;
But in our village
It's like it's always been. 
Heinrich Peter Ehlers, a Volga villager, liked to amuse his friends by imitating clergy. However, he was eventually brought to his knees and conversion. Ehlers became a leader of the Brotherhood, a lay movement outside the church proper that introduced prayer meetings in many villages, effecting the kind of regeneration the AHMS looked for in frontier German-American churches. About the same time a similar movement began in South Russia, but more pastors took part there than in villages along the Volga. 
The Brotherhood gained special prominence during the Great Revival of 1872 (which continued until the early 1890s). It owed its origin to a number of influences, including various Anabaptist and millenarian neighbors: Moravians, Mennonites, and Stundists. Prayer meetings held in private homes by itinerant members of such groups, coupled with the irenic Pietism already prevailing in the village churches, quickly spread a new personal religion. In lay meetings, always attended by church members—sometimes without the pastor's blessing—people sang, read scripture and offered testimonials that spoke of fellowship with God in Jesus Christ. 
Life in America
Although confirmation remained important for Russia Germans who joined Congregational churches in the United States—a catechism was written for that purpose—prayer meetings stayed at the center of their religious lives. They honored the German tradition of religious education while maintaining the prayer meetings of Russia, which had brought them closer to God than they had imagined possible.
Were it not for the Brotherhood, Russia Germans would not have joined Congregational churches after their immigration to the United States. Participation in the Brotherhood required membership in a church, and Congregationalism's emphasis on the autonomy of the local church and the priesthood of all believers appealed to them. Because so many members of the Brotherhood belonged to Congregational churches, in some towns the church was called die Brüderschaft der Kirche. 
Unlike in Russia, where there was only one church in a village, many denominations wooed the Russia Germans in the United States, confusing them with competing claims. Among the denominations that organized congregations made up of Russia Germans were the Missouri Synod, American Lutheran Church, Reformed Church in the United States (German Reformed Church), German Evangelical Synod of North America, German Methodists, German Baptists, and Adventists. Roughly 45 percent of those from Protestant churches in Russia remained Lutheran, 20 percent were divided among Methodists and Baptists, and 5 percent joined the Reformed Church. Yet 30 percent of the Russia German Protestants in the United States by the 1930s had joined Congregational churches. 
The immigration of Russia Germans to the United States re-sulted from several causes. The most significant was Czar Alexander II's revocation, in 1871, of one of the guarantees made to the first Volga colonists by Catherine the Great: freedom from military service. In 1892 Alexander III curtailed land acquisition by non-Orthodox citizens in the west. To land-starved colonists who had established many new colonies and who doubtless had plans to start more, such a policy seemed to aim at their freedom of religion, which Catherine had also guaranteed.
Many families did send sons off to the army and navy. Even today pictures of young Germans in Russian uniforms are found in the homes of their American offspring. An anti-German wind was blowing across the steppes, however, and the colonists felt it. They had lost faith in the manifesto that brought their ancestors to Russia. Consequently, many sought new homes, some going to the United States and Canada and others journeying to South America.
Beginning with a few scouts who located cheap land in the early 1870s, Russia German immigration eventually reached massive proportions. By 1920, 303,532 first- and second-generation Russia Germans resided in the United States.  They constituted the third and final great wave of German immigration; the first arrived in colonial times and the second, in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Russia Germans were different from earlier German immigrants. Their speech was laced with Russianisms, and German-Americans considered it archaic. Along with their English-speaking neighbors, German-Americans referred to them as "Russians" and to their settlements as "Russiatown."  They were at the bottom of the social ladder and did jobs that others avoided. Women were domestics; men worked on railroad construction or farmed. All who encountered them, however, admired their ability to work. 
The prejudice felt by most Russia Germans made Congregationalism even more attractive. The Congregational Church— which came out "congraese" when they tried to pronounce it—was made up of people just like them. Eventually, the church was being served by Russian-born pastors or by pastors whose parents were Russian-born.
The first Russia German ordained to the Congregational ministry was Emmanuel Jose, who founded many churches in Nebraska and the Dakotas. Jose traveled widely, establishing and maintaining contact with little groups, because there were few resident pastors. A pastor who accompanied Jose on one such trip described a visit with a group of Russia Germans living in a remote part of Nebraska.
Isolated, these people live in their sod-houses, scattered all over the prairie. Here they pray and sing praises to the Lord. Brother Jose, who resided in Sutton, served these people once in about three months. They are as sheep, having no fold and no shepherd. Not a church of any kind did I see in that whole region of country.
After supper we had prayer meeting ... to which all the German railroad hands working there were invited. The house was filled, and we had a blessed time. The next evening a number of the brethren and sisters gathered for another prayer meeting.... The people were not satisfied with an hour and a half; they remained until about 11 o'clock that night, singing their accustomed German-Russian melodies, intermingled occasionally with prayer.
The Sabbath was a glorious and blessed day. The house was packed full. Brother Jose preached with great effect.... At 2 p.m. the house was overfilled again, and with much joy and freedom of heart I delivered the Lord's message, which was gladly received.... After the people were dismissed they requested us to have another meeting at night, to which we gladly agreed. 
Large groups of Russia Germans settled in Nebraska, the Dakotas, Kansas, Colorado, Washington, and California. They responded eagerly to the ministrations of Congregational Reiseprediger, who gathered them into small congregations, but the shortage of pastors presented a major stumbling block. The pastors supplied by the "Mission Houses" were not Russia German and sometimes had difficulty ministering to the people. Occasionally, however, particularly able Russia Germans were brought into the ministry. For example, Johannes Koch, an evangelist in Russia, was examined for ordination by several English-speaking Congregational ministers through an interpreter and went on to found a number of Pacific Northwest churches.  And in South Dakota, John Lich, a country schoolmaster, was ordained in 1885 and served many years in Lincoln, Nebraska. 
Organizing a denomination
On October 3, 1883 a small group of German pastors met in Crete, Nebraska, and organized Die Allgemeine Evangelische Kirchenversammlung der Deutschen Kongregationalisten (The General Evangelical Church Assembly of German Congregationalists). The new organization dealt with four items of business. One centered around theological education, another discussed the appointment of a general superintendent for the work, and the other two dealt with the publication of a newspaper and church manual.
George E. Albrecht, a native German who graduated from Oberlin College and served an English-speaking congregation in Ohio, was appointed superintendent in 1883, just after completing a stint with the AHMS in Davenport, Iowa, where he directed the Sunday school efforts. Albrecht himself was a product of regeneration.
I was working in a machine shop in Ohio, as far from God and Christ as the East is from the West, as much lost in sinful pleasures as any of my shopmates. A young Englishman, member of a Congregational church, who worked near me and heard my godless speech, began to pray for me, and with kind words induced me to go to church, afterwards to Sunday School. After a few weeks I was in his pastor's study on my knees beseeching God to have mercy on me, and since then the Lord has led me on with marvelous love.
He provided a solid organizational base on which the German movement could grow. "God seemed to have called the Congregational church to a new work, and the voice was obeyed," he wrote in a report.
Old and erroneous ideas pertaining to various methods by which the Germans should be approached were cast aside, and the pastors simply went to the Germans with the plain Gospel. It was this method that bore the most fruit. 
By 1885 German Congregational churches had been established in nine states. The churches were no longer only in rural areas. Although the going was tougher in cities, persistence paid off, as one pastor demonstrated.
When I began to call upon the people to invite them to gospel services I often had the pleasure (?) to see the door shut on me, instead of inviting me to come in and call again. I generally left my card of invitation behind me, telling the hours of service and Sunday School, and also a tract or two. In a week I went again to the same places, taking my wife with me. I hoped they would not shut the door on her; but found only a few who did not. Some braced themselves in the door and listened to the inviting words; then remarked: "If we find time, we may come once." The next time I went I took my wife and daughter. I went every two or three weeks. Now, thank God, there is a great change. The doors are open to us, and we can have a Christian conversation, and sometimes even reading the Word of God and prayer. I opened the Sunday School in a fire engine hall, which I fixed up with a stand, seats, chairs, stove, etc., also books far the service at my own expense. I began with three children and six teachers. The teachers were my wife, three sons and two daughters, the youngest being fifteen years old. In a short time we had twenty-seven scholars and three visitors, and from that time continual growth. We now have sixty-eight scholars and the same six teachers. 
In 1886 Albrecht explained that the work now had "a good start," but the dangerous shortage of pastors hampered its growth. "We need money," he wrote, "in order to get men; not to buy men, nor to coax them, but to pay them living salaries, and above all to train them for lasting work." Albrecht held a special conference with Prof. Samuel Ives Curtiss, who was on the faculty at the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS); several American ministers; and representatives of some German churches. Sometime later Albrecht wrote:
Nothing is more trying and discouraging to a home mis-sionary than to see the doors swinging wide open in scores of places, and to call and write in vain for men to enter them. Golden opportunities are lost. Important fields pass into the hands of others, or, what is worse, remain wholly uncared for. The whole work is dragging heavily for want of workers. 
Albrecht resigned as general superintendent in 1887 to be-come a foreign missionary.  He was succeeded the following year by Civil War veteran Moritz E. Eversz, also a native German and Oberlin College graduate. Eversz had been converted while serving in the 20th Wisconsin Volunteers and throughout the war had participated in a small prayer group. During his superintendency "centers of influence" began to be identified, and "people who longed for more spiritual life and for freedom from arbitrary domination of stricter denominations" discovered Congregationalism. 
Lutheran in name only, some Russia Germans found the kind of spirituality they had known in Russia in the small Congregational churches. By 1890 the pastors who were trained in CTS's German department had begun serving in local churches. Russia Germans, they understood the people and their ways. Revivals broke out in many places. New churches were founded. In 1895 there were 110 churches with a combined membership of 4,728. Fifteen years later the numbers had grown to 202 churches with 11,435 members. 
The growth of German Congregationalism spawned associations and state conferences in areas where churches were concentrated. The first German association was organized in Iowa, in 1862, and the first state conference, in Nebraska, in 1879.  Although German Congregational associations and conferences were separate from their English-speaking counterparts, they did maintain relations with them, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on local leadership.
A similar relationship existed between the General Conference of German Congregational Churches of the United States and the National Council of Congregational Churches of the United States. Superintendent Albrecht attended the sixth session of the National Council, which met in Chicago in 1886,  but it was not until 1927 that the Council officially recognized the General Conference of German Congregational Churches as having "parity" with state conferences.  This move was undoubtedly influenced by the 1925 "recognition" of the Evangelical Protestant Conference, a group of twenty-two "union" churches (Lutheran and Reformed), some dating back to the colonial period. Interestingly, some of those churches were served by German Congregational pastors. 
After Superintendent Eversz retired, in 1920, Herman Obenhaus became superintendent, serving until 1936, when Russian-born Jacob Hirning was appointed. Hirning was the first Russia German to head the German work. In the first year of his superintendency the state conferences numbered six and the state associations, three, representing 197 churches with a total membership of 22,166.  By this time many churches no longer functioned only in German. Native-born young people rapidly became Americanized. At the end of World War II most worship services were in English—a trend reflected by the publication in 1952 of an English-language hymnal. Only the Brotherhood clung to German, their prayer meetings offering a window into an increasingly distant past.
In 1878 a seminary was founded in Crete in conjunction with Doane College. Too few students and a lack of money kept it from taking hold. In 1882, however, it began serving as a feeder school, or proseminar, for the newly organized German department of CTS. This department flourished because of the efforts of Professor Curtiss.
Curtiss, who had earned a Ph.D. in Germany, was a gifted scholar and pastor. He started several Chicago mission churches and the Chicago Congregational City Missionary Society. "Throughout his career at the seminary," Arthur Cushman McGiffert Jr. wrote, "Curtiss did the work of three men." One of the three took a particular interest in the German work, seeing to it that two German faculty members were appointed. His influence and that of colleague Hugh Macdonald Scott helped CTS become a "polyglot seminary," whose foreign department trained not only Germans but also Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes.  As German-trained church historian Scott put it:
With immigrants landing in this country at the rate of 750,000 a year, ignorant of American life, strange in speech, not a few opposed to our civilization and our Christianity, the eyes of the most obtuse have at last been opened to the need of thorough Gospel work among this part of our population. Until very recently our Congregational churches paid no attention to this field. 
Growth led to more stable educational institutions. In 1894 the Crete proseminar was moved to Wilton, Iowa, and reconstituted the Wilton German English College. The poorly financed, two-building college merged with Redfield College, in Redfield, South Dakota, in 1904, forming "a Christian institution of learning under the general supervision of the German Congregational churches of the United States of America," with the mandate "specifically to provide an academic and college course for all German young men looking toward a German Congregational ministry."
Redfield was a good location, because most of Wilton's students had been Russia Germans from the Dakotas. Although finances remained a problem, Redfield College survived, and in 1916 the German Institute at CTS moved there, becoming the Redfield College Seminary. The depression signaled an end to Redfield, but the School of Theology moved to Yankton College in 1932  and later became one of the institutions that formed the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
At the founding of the general conference, in 1883, two of the four items of business centered on publication. Zionsfreund, an eight-page newspaper founded by Prof. Theo. Falk of Crete Seminary in 1880, had a two-year run before folding. Der Kirchenbote (Church Messenger), which followed Zionsfreund, was published by Henry Hess until 1888, when the Congregational Publishing Society, at the instigation of Prof. Curtiss, purchased it and placed it under the editorship of Gustav Zimmermann, who taught in CTS's German department. A semimonthly until 1897, when it became a weekly, Der Kirchenbote was avidly read by most German Congregational families. It contained devotional articles as well as denominational news and along with the Illustrierter-Kirchenbote-Kalendar&151;a daily devotional with scripture lessons, a brief message and prayer, and sometimes a hymn— was standard reading.
The German Congregational publishing operation was located in Chicago from 1888 until 1895, when it was moved to Michigan City, Indiana. In 1905 it was moved back to Chicago. The German Congregational Publishing Society—as it was officially known—printed works bearing an illustration of a Pilgrim and the name "The German Pilgrim Press." 
The first Gesangbuch was authorized by the General Conference that met in Chicago in 1896 and was in use by 1898. Both the first and second editions were ohne Noten—without music—requiring someone to lead the singing who had memorized all the melodies.  The third and final edition contained the music and all the words. This edition was the preferred hymnal of most church members, who proudly carried the books to worship services and prayer meetings.
Two supplementary hymnbooks were used in prayer meetings. Social Gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch and Ira Sankey, who had accompanied Dwight L. Moody on so many of his tours, produced a collection of American gospel songs in German translation—Evangeliums-S?nger—that was popular. Der K?stliche Schatz was prepared for Brotherhood use by a Russia German Evangelical Synod pastor in Portland, Oregon, Elias Hergert, who had been an Eden Seminary classmate of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It contained some Brotherhood songs from Russia as well as recent compositions by Hergert and others, a few of which were in English. 
A Catechism for the German Congregational churches first appeared in 1904. Attempting to include the basic teachings contained in Luther's Small Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism, it had 150 questions and answers and 50 questions to be answered by confirmands during a final oral examination before the entire congregation. The Catechism was divided into five sections: the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Uses of the Law, the Lord's Prayer, and the Sacraments.
Unlike Luther's catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism, the German Congregational Katechismus began by asserting the centrality of scripture.
How can one discern that Holy Scripture is God's Word?
a) The divine strength of so many souls in life and death has proven it already;
b) because it has been confirmed through divine prophecy and miracles, and
c) because it was written by holy men of God at the impulse of the Holy Spirit 
Rather than beginning with the Law as did Luther's Catechism, or with humanity's delight in belonging to Christ, as did the Heidelberg Catechism, the Katechismus started by establishing the place of the Bible in people's lives.
After World War II, English-language materials became widely available. In 1947 the General Conference of German Congregational Churches, meeting in Lodi, California, elected a hymnal committee to select songs and hymns that "could be used with both our own German Hymnal and the Wolga Gesangbuch."  The resulting Pioneer Hymnal, which came out in 1952, included many familiar American hymns as well as translations of some better-known German hymns.
The Pioneer Press of Yankton, South Dakota, publishers of the new hymnal, succeeded the Redfield College Press, which had taken over The German Pilgrim Press in 1923. The Pioneer Press remained in operation until 1968, publishing hymnals, catechisms, and church and Sunday school materials in both English and German. 
The Katechismus was first translated into English in 1928 and was revised and reissued in 1955. Instead of 150 questions, as in the original version, there were 119 questions plus an appendix of 14 questions and answers on "The Congregational Fellowship." One question asked: "What institutions and projects do our churches especially sponsor through the General Conference?" The answer: "The Yankton College School of Theology, the Pioneer Press and our South American Mission." 
The mission to Argentina was the second foreign field tended by German Congregationalists. (In Canada, the first foreign field, thirty-one churches that had been affiliated with the General Conference became part of the United Church of Canada when that denomination came into being, in 1925.) 
The work in South America began in 1921, when four Argentinean churches urgently requested that denominational recognition be given George Geier, who was serving them. The Illinois Conference licensed Geier, who worked among Russia Germans who were alike in every way to those in the United States and in Canada. In 1924 general missionary John Hoelzer, in Argentina for a brief visit, organized six churches.
The South American Germans from Russia had learned about Congregationalism in letters from relatives in the United States. Despite attacks from the Missouri Lutheran La Plata Synod, the Congregational mission grew. By 1937 thirty-six churches had been established with a total of 3,015 members—all served by five ministers.  The need for a trained ministry was acute, and eventually a theological school was founded. Even today, the South American churches are in contact with the United Church Board for World Ministries, although they, like their American cousins, have adapted to the surrounding culture.
In the United Church of Christ
Most German Congregational churches became affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC), which came into being in 1957 with the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Itself a merged denomination, the Evangelical and Reformed Church represented the 1934 union of the Reformed Church in the United States and the Evangelical Synod of North America—two groups that had labored among Russia German immigrants. Since then a number of former German Congregational churches have withdrawn and many more are served by pastors of other denominations.
The descendants of the Russia Germans who embraced Congregationalism are often troubled by the UCC's emphasis on social action. To them, the UCC seems too political and not grounded enough in scripture. This reaction is characteristic. The unique heritage of the Russia Germans laid great stress on the Bible, religious experience, and sanctified living. It was an individual gospel, expressed in prayer meetings, worship, and performing kind deeds among one's neighbors.  Although prayer meetings have almost disappeared and revivals are no longer a feature of church life, such piety remains powerfully latent. German Congregationalism has made a unique contribution to the United Church of Christ. Even though its outward form is changed, the inner spirit continues to radiate.
William G. Chrystal is pastor of the Trinity Evangelical and Reformed Church, UCC, Adamstown, Maryland. He is a doctoral student in American Religious History at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of A Father's Mantle: The Legacy of Gustav Niebuhr (1982) and Young Reinhold Niebuhr: His Early Writings, 1911-31 (1977). Chrystal is also a member of the UCC Historical Council.
1. George J. Eisenach, A History of the German Congregational Churches in the United States (Yankton, SD, 1937), p. 3. 2. Carl E. Schneider, "The Home Mission Zeal of an Immigrant Church,' in Missionary Trails: The Story of Missions in the Evangelical Synod of North America as told by missionaries and friends of missions (St. Louis, 1934), p. 5.
3. Home Missionary, January 1851. Reprinted in Carl E. Schneider, The German Church on the American Frontier (St. Louis, 1939), p. 494.
4. Eisenach, op. cit., p. 7.
5. Ibid., p. 51.
6. In Arthur Cushman McGiffert Jr., No Ivory Tower: The Story of The Chicago Theological Seminary (Chicago, 1965), p. 60.
7. Eisenach, op. cit., p. 7
8. The oldest congregation still in existence is Sherrill United Church of Christ in Sherrill, Iowa, which was organized by Peter Fleury in 1849.
9. The saying is quoted in Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918?1956, V?VII (New York, 1979), p. 400.
10. George J. Eisenach, Pietism and the Russian Germans in the United States (Berne, IN, 1948), p. 31, and Adam Giesinger, From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia's Germans (Battleford, Saskatchewan, 1974), p. 156. Giesinger places the Lutheran and Reformed mix at 80%-20%.
11. Eisenach, Pietism, op. cit., p. 31, quotes Catholic priest Gottlieb Beratz, Die deutschen Kolonien an der Unteren Wolga in ihrer Entstehung and ersten Entwicklung (Saratov, 1915), p. 230, regarding the clergy shortage.
12. "Russland" in Real-Encyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche, zweiter Auflage, Dreizhenter Band (Ritschl bis Scotus) (Leipzig, 1884), p. 126.
13. Photos of pastors wearing crucifixes may be found in 80th Anniversary of The Free Evangelical Lutheran Cross Church, 1892? 1972 (Fresno, CA, 1972], pp. 14, 16, and Karl Stumpp, "Verzeichnis der ev. Pastoren in den einzelnen deutschen und gemischten Kirchenspielen in Russland bzw. der Sowjetunion, ohne Baltikum und Polen" in Joseph Schnurr, ed., Die Kirchen und das Religi?se Leben der Russlanddeutschen, Evangelischer Tell (Stuttgart, 1978), pp. 120?82.
14. See Harry Anderson, "Die Universit?tsgemeinde in Dorpat und ihre Kirche" in Schnurr, op. cit., pp. 310-15.
15. See G. Wayne Glick, The Reality of Christianity: A Study of Adolf von Harnack as Historian and Theologian (New York, 1967), pp. 23?34, for a glimpse of Dorpat and its influence on Adolf.
16. C. Blum, Gnade urn Gnade. Evangelien-Predigten f?r dos ganze Kirchenjahr (Jurjew [Dorpat], 1901), p. 613. Stumpp, op. cit., p. 198, lists Blum as "Johannes Nikolaus Blum."
17. Blum, op. cit., p. 615.
18. Quoted in Eisenach, Pietism, op. cit., p. 64.
19. Ibid., p. 81.
20. Some pastors forbade such meetings in their parishes; in other places meetings were broken up and Elders were punished. See Eisenach, Pietism, op. cit., pp. 174?76.
21. The church in Endicott, Washington, was one. See Anna B. Weitz, A Century of Christian Fellowship: Evangelical Congregational Church, Endicott, Washington, 1883?1983 (Colfax, WA, 1983], p.6.
22. Richard Sallet, Russian-German Settlements in the United States, trans. Lavern J. Rippley and Armand Bauer (Fargo, ND, 1974), p. 90.
23. Ibid., p. 17.
24. See S. Joachim, Toward an Understanding of the Russia Germans (Moorhead, MN, 1939), for a contemporary attempt to explain faulty impressions of the Germans from Russia.
25. Roland Bainton, in his biography of his father, Herbert Bainton, who served the Congregational Church in Colfax, Washington, noted that the only domestic help available to his mother "were some German-speaking immigrants lately come from Russia whose women would come sometimes for half a day." See Roland Bainton, Pilgrim Parson: The Life of James Herbert Bainton, 1867? 1942 (New York, 1958), p. 74.
26. Eisenach, History, op. cit., pp. 45?48.
27. Koch was a moderator of the Brotherhood conference in Russia, working with Ehlers. Gottfried Graedel, in an undated newspaper article entitled "German Congregational Churches in the State of Washington," in the possession of Richard Scheuermann, states: "It was in 1888 when our own Atkinson, Walters and Jonathan Edwards met in Endicott. Johannes Koch represented the Ger-mans. He used to be an evangelist in the old country. The three former ministers informed themselves about the condition of things and found it advisable to ordain Mr. Koch. As Mr. Koch before that had organized two churches, Ritzville and Endicott, the two were accepted into Congregational fellowship with their pastor, and so the Pacific German Congregational church was established."
28. Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 60.
29. Ibid. pp. 49, 57?58.
30. Ibid., p. 59.
31. Ibid., pp. 64, 70.
32. William E. Strong, The Story of the American Board (Boston, 1910), p. 362, reveals that Albrecht served in Tokyo, Japan, where he helped translate many works into Japanese.
33. Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 75.
34. Ibid., p. 123.
35. See Henry Vieth, "A History of German Congregationalism in Nebraska" in A History of the Churches and of the Present Conference, Nebraska Conference, United Church of Christ, vol. 1, 1976, pp. 114-42.
36. E. Lyman Hood, The National Council of Congregational Churches of the United States (Boston, n.d.), p. 125, lists Albrecht as being from "the Nebraska phalanx." This session of the Council commended the attempt to create a German Academy at Crete, Nebraska. See Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 172.
37. Louis H. Gunnemann, The Shaping of the United Church of Christ (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1977), p. 161.
38. Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 145.
39. Ibid., p. 161.
40. McGiffert, op. cit., pp. 54-64.
41. Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 175.
42. Ibid., pp. 183?202.
43. Ibid., pp. 204-7.
44. Family tradition recalls the author's grandmother was a song leader.
45. Walter Rauschenbusch and Ira D. Sankey, eds., Evangeliums-S?nger (Kassel, n.d.), and Elias Hergert, ed., Der K?stliche Schatz (Portland, OR, N.D.). Both books went through many editions.
46. Katechismus der biblischen Heilswahrheiten fur die evangelischen Kongregational-Gemeinden von Nord-Amerika (Chicago, 1919), p. 10. English editions omit this question.
47. "Preface," The Pioneer Hymnal (Yankton, 1952), p. 3.
48. Walter Kranzler, "German Congregationalism." in Edward C. Ehrensperger, ed., History of the United Church of Christ in South Dakota, 1869-1976 (Freeman, SD, 1977), pp. 199-200.
49. Congregational Catechism of Religious Instruction (Yankton, 1955), p. 46.
50. Eisenach, History, op. cit., p. 213.
51. Ibid., p. 217.
52. An exception to this pattern was the massive relief effort to Volga Germans in the post-Revolutionary War period, bankrolled by Russia Germans in the United States. See Emma D. Schwabenland, A History of the Volga Relief Society (Portland, OR, 1941).