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zum Inhalt springen Francke Foundations in Halle (Saale) © Tim Hufnagel, IMG Sachsen-Anhalt

Fun Fact

Henry's son Frederick Muhlenberg was the first speaker of the US House of Representatives and the first one to sign the Bill of Rights.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711 – 1787)

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the Patriarch of North American Lutherans, was a Lutheran pastor who traveled from Germany to North America as a missionary to build up what we now know as the American Lutheran Church. He was born in 1711 in Einbeck, Germany. Having studied theology at the University of Goettingen and languages and music at the University of Halle, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg is now considered by historians to be the father of American Lutheranism.

Henry M. Muhlenberg © Franckesche Stiftungen Henry M. Muhlenberg's 1st letter from America in the Francke Foundations © Harald Krieg, IMG Sachsen-Anhalt

Halle University received several requests from the North American Colonies asking for a pastor to take charge and provide leadership. Hermann Francke, who was fully committed to the teachings of Martin Luther and served as a leader of the Pietism movement in Halle (Saale), asked Muhlenberg to become pastor of the United Congregation of Pennsylvania - a request that Muhlenberg was happy to fulfill.

Muhlenberg arrived in Philadelphia in 1742. At the time, local Lutheran congregations didn't have any form of central organization and were mainly found in a few dispersed communities consisting of various national backgrounds. There were already visible signs of disharmony and dispute within these communities, which led Muhlenberg to start building up Lutheran churches within the region right away. His efforts were soon recognized and he was named Senior Lutheran Pastor in North America by German, Swedish, and other Lutheran churches.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg was respected by his people as a gifted leader and dedicated worker. He was a very firm, tactful, and patient man. He built many churches and a schoolhouse, and also managed to resolve church disagreements and restore order in various complicated situations.

A total of 81 congregations in Pennsylvania and neighboring states later grew to include another 30 parishes in other parts of America thirty years later. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg died in New Providence (now Trappe), Pennsylvania on October 7, 1787.

Would you like to follow in Muhlenberg's footsteps? Then take a look at our recommended tour!