Saturday, February 27, 2010

Changes in the Life of the Laity in the LCMS

Commenting on the character of new members in the LCMS post-WWII, Alan Graebner writes: “These people were newcomers in an immigrant church.  For them the synod had no past; everything was present.  Church was not an ornate white and gilded chancel downtown, but a natural oak cross on an A-shaped wall behind a slab altar.  Reiseprediger was only a foreign word, and their pastor’s name was not Pfotenhauer or Fuerbringer, but Burroughs.  They associated a guttural accent with DP’s and refugees, not immigrants and steerage.  A verse of a German hymn conjured up not an old grandmother, but a language professor in a college classroom, or perhaps no image whatever.  There had always been a men’s club in the congregation and the Sunday school needed more room.  This was something different from the break between generations, for these new members brought with them expectations partly shaped by childhoods in a dozen different denominations or in none at all.  They brought with them habits of living and patterns of thought completely untempered by the immigrant Lutheran community.”  - Alan Graebner, Uncertain Saints: The Laity in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1900-1970, p. 161.