The German Reformed Church in Colonial America

The German Reformed Church in Colonial America

Source: The Historical Handbook of the Reformed Church, 1902, James I. Good, Electronic version, © 2004, The Synod of the Reformed Church in the U.S.

EUROPE was too small a continent to contain the Reformed Church; she spread to other continents. Africa, Asia, and, too, our America received her. The Middle Ages saw the Crusades, those marching armies going eastward to rescue the Holy Land from the power of the infidel Moslem. The last two centuries saw another crusade, not eastward but westward, not of war, but of peace, as thousands sailed from the old world to capture the new world of America for Christ. A voyage across the ocean in those days was a dangerous one. It was long, and in it, storms, sickness, perhaps shipwreck awaited them. (Thus of the 4,000 sent by Queen Ann in 1709, 1,700 died either on, or from the effects of, the voyage.) And even after our forefathers landed, there was danger of sickness so common to new land, and the greater danger of death from the Indians.

Why then did our ancestors come to this western world in the face of so many dangers? Because they felt that there were greater dangers behind them in the old world than those before them in America.[1] And {50} they expected to get here what they did not have in Europe, peace and freedom to worship God according to their beloved Reformed faith. The causes of this emigration are given in a Memorial published in 1754. “Some of them fled from the severe persecution to which they had been exposed at home on account of their being Protestants, others from the oppression of civil tyranny and attracted by the pleasant hope of liberty under the milder influence of the British government, others were drawn by the solicitations of their countrymen who had settled there before them, but far the greatest part by the prospect they had of relieving themselves under the deep poverty and providing better for themselves and their families.” The last point, however, is emphasized all through the Memorial too strongly, as the Germans were not so poor or illiterate as it makes them out to be. But these were the reasons why the Germans came in such numbers that, it is said, there were 30,000 of them in Pennsylvania (15,000 Reformed) in 1731, and the British became alarmed lest Pennsylvania would become a German rather than an English colony.

They began coming in the latter part of the 17th century. Peter Minuit, the first governor of New Amsterdam (New York), who was a deacon in the Reformed Church of Wesel, Germany, and afterwards an elder of the Reformed Church at New Amsterdam (New York), came earlier (1626). Later, in 1638, he founded the first Swedish colony in Delaware, where a Dutch Reformed Church was founded at New Castle, but given up.[2] It was not, however, until the end of that century that the Germans began coming in {51} such large numbers as to form congregations. Many of them settled near Philadelphia, in a town which received its name from them, Germantown. But as most of them were farmers and the most desirable farms in the neighborhood of Philadelphia had already been taken by the Quakers, they pushed out further into the wilderness and began settling Montgomery and Bucks counties. At first they had no regular pastors, but sometimes would employ a pious schoolmaster who would read sermons to them or they would appoint one of their own number to hold such a service, and thus they would worship God as best they could.

Samuel Guldin and John Philip Boehm

The first Reformed minister in Pennsylvania, Samuel Guldin, came in 1710. But although he preached as occasion offered (Boehm says he occasionally preached in the Reformed church at Germantown) he never attempted to organize the Reformed congregations. His only attempt was a book, published in 1743, in which, although he had been a Pietist at Bern, Switzerland, he wrote against the religious movement which arose under Count Zinzendorf in Pennsylvania.

It was left for an unordained but pious schoolmaster, John Philip Boehm, to found our Church. This he did in 1725, when the Reformed people living in Skippach, Falkner Swamp, and White Marsh, north of Philadelphia, asked him to become their minister. He consented and at their first communion, in 1725, there were 101 communicants at the three places mentioned. He proposed to them a Church constitution, which they adopted and which organized them after the Reformed custom, by having a consistory of regularly elected elders and deacons.

George Michael Weiss

On September 18, 1727, Rev. George Michael Weiss arrived at Philadelphia with a colony of Germans and {52} became pastor of the first German Reformed church of Philadelphia. The coming of a regularly ordained minister like Weiss led some of Boehm’s people to begin to oppose him, as he had never been ordained, so he applied to the Reformed Classis of New York, which was ordered by the Church of Holland, to ordain him, which they did November 23, 1729. Then Rev. Mr. Weiss, seeing the great need of funds to carry on the work among the German Reformed of Pennsylvania, went back to Europe (1730) to raise money for them, leaving the Philadelphia church in the care of Boehm. This lone man seemed destined to be the strong tower-the pioneer of the Reformed in this country and her defender against all storms and dangers. Rev. Mr. Weiss returned the next year, but without money.[3] Then Mr. Weiss left Pennsylvania and settled at Rhinebeck, N.Y. So Boehm was left almost alone to minister to the Pennsylvania churches for 15 years. It is true, a few ministers arrived to aid him, such as Goetschy, Dorsius, and Rieger. But the weight of the care of the widening territory of the Reformed rested mainly on Boehm’s shoulders. Gradually these settlements of the Germans spread out into the wilderness beyond Montgomery and Bucks counties into Berks, Lehigh, Lebanon and Lancaster counties. A call came to Boehm to come to Conestoga, near Lancaster, and administer the communion, which he did, Oct. 14, 1727, to 59 members; also from Tulpehocken, near Lebanon, where he administered the communion October 18, 1727, to 32 communicants. Twice every year after that, this faithful servant of God would go to these outlying districts and administer {53} the Lord’s Supper to them until finally Miller came to his assistance for a time and went to Tulpehocken, and Rieger at last went to Conestoga. Boehm was a sort of overseer of the Reformed of Pennsylvania. His territory extended from Egypt, near Allentown, west to Tulpehocken and Lancaster and south to Philadelphia. His consecration to this arduous work is shown by his death, for it was while on a long, hard journey to the Egypt congregation, near Allentown, that he died, April 29, 1749. He may well be called the founder of the German Reformed congregations in Pennsylvania.

He was her defender too. For at this time she passed through a severe storm that strained her to the utmost. As there were so few ministers there was danger of our people being carried away to other denominations or led away by any one who came along and claimed to be a minister. As early as 1736 an inspirationist named Gruber had begun a fanatical movement, but it was the coming of Count Zinzendorf, the great Moravian bishop (1741), that gave a power to this movement. By his influence he carried a number of our people over to the Moravians. Now the Moravian Church was in the last century a splendid witness for the truth against the rationalists of Germany, but she was charged by the other Churches with proselytizing. She had, however, a policy of gathering all earnest believers, no matter of what denomination, into circles called Tropes. The members of these could then semi-officially belong to the Moravians, although still remaining in their own denominations. Zinzendorf attempted such a union movement of Lutherans, Reformed, and Moravians in Pennsylvania, when he arrived. He could do this the better {54} because the Moravians, like the Lutherans, held to the Augsburg Confession; while the Reformed would be attached to him by the fact that he had been ordained by a Reformed minister, Jablonsky, the court preacher of Berlin, who at the same time was a Moravian bishop. So he began to organize a movement called “The Congregation of God in the Spirit,” composed of different religious elements. From January 1742, to June of that year, these held six Synods, and at the seventh, in August of that year, this “Congregation of God in the Spirit” was founded. Quite a number of the Reformed went into the movement. Already John Peter Miller, the pastor of the Reformed church at Tulpehocken, had joined the Seventh Day Baptists (1735) at Ephrata. And now Henry Antes, the prominent Elder of Falkner Swamp, John Bechtel, John Brandmuller, Christian Henry Rauch, and Jacob Lischy went into the movement and were ordained by Zinzendorf as ministers of the Reformed Church in this Union.

The man who rose up against this movement, which threatened to disorganize the Reformed, was Boehm, who did it in order to preserve the Reformed faith and organization (for Weiss by this time was in New York state). He published his “True Letter of Warning,” August 23, 1742, addressed to the Reformed congregations of Pennsylvania, warning the Reformed against Zinzendorf’s efforts. It was signed by the officers of the six congregations-Falkner Swamp, Skippach, White Marsh, Philadelphia, Oley, and Tulpehocken. On May 19, 1743, he published another attack especially directed against Lischy, Bechtel, and Antes. On the other hand, the Reformed who were in “The Congregation of God in the Spirit,” claimed that they were also {55} Reformed. Bechtel published a brief Catechism based on the Articles of Bern. They, however, claimed to be lower Calvinists than Boehm, who held to the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort. They claimed that their low Calvinistic views were also truly German Reformed, because they had always been the views of the Reformed churches of Brandenburg, where Jablonsky, who ordained Zinzendorf, lived. Their claims were true, and yet, like so many union movements, they went to pieces because theirs was made up of such different elements. The churchly Lutherans reacted against them, especially as Muhlenberg had arrived from Germany to organize them. The Moravians themselves, after Zinzendorf left America, became somewhat more churchly, so that Antes rather lost interest in them. The Reformed element in the Union either faded out or was absorbed in the Moravian Church. But the one man who stood against them like a tower through the storm was Boehm. He saved the Reformed Church, and continued her historic existence. Our Church should ever honor him as the defender as well as the founder of our denomination.

Organization of the Coetus

If Rev. Mr. Boehm was the founder of our Church, Rev. Michael Schlatter was the organizer of it. It was a glad day for the former when the latter arrived on our shores. For he was bowed down with the weight of years and when he saw Schlatter coming to take the work off his shoulders he could say, like Simeon of old, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” {56}

Michael Schlatter

Rev. Michael Schlatter was born at St. Gall, in northeastern Switzerland, July 14, 1716. He studied at his native place and after two brief assistant pastorates in Switzerland, he went to Holland, where he was appointed by the deputies of the Synods of North and South Holland, May 23, 1746, to go to America and organize the German churches of Pennsylvania. On August 1, 1746, he arrived at Boston, and on September 6 of that year he arrived at Philadelphia, where he was gladly received by the Reformed congregation. As soon as he arrived he began his missionary journeys, which were truly surprising in their length and continuance. The day after he arrived at Philadelphia he traveled 16 miles to visit Rev. Mr. Boehm, and the next day, eight miles further to meet Mr. Reiff and try to close Reiff’s account with the Reformed about the money he had collected for them in Europe 16 years before. The following day he traveled 23 miles back to Philadelphia. The next week he visited Rev. Mr. Dorsius, pastor of a Dutch Reformed church in Bucks County, Pa., 16 miles from Philadelphia. The week following he went with Rev. Mr. Weiss over the mountains to Oley, Berks county, and the following day to Lancaster to meet Rev. Mr. Rieger. Meanwhile Rev. Mr. Boehm had gone to Tulpehocken, where on September 24, Mr. Schlatter and Mr. Weiss, after traveling 29 miles the previous day, also arrived. The Reformed people of the Tulpehocken charge on Sunday, September 25, wept at the sight of three Reformed ministers together in the pulpit-a sight that they had not seen since they left their Reformed churches in the fatherland. Mr. Schlatter invited the three German Reformed ministers and Rev. Mr. Dorsius to a {57} conference, October 12, 1746, at Philadelphia. All came but the latter, who sent a friendly letter. This was the first meeting of the Reformed ministers in America. It was an informal meeting for conference.

No organization was made till the Coetus was organized next year.[4] Then Mr. Schlatter, like the Apostle Paul, went again on his missionary journeys, so that he might organize the Reformed into congregations and find out how many of these would be willing to support a minister. At Providence, October 18, he preached in a barn and in the afternoon traveled 18 miles to Goshenhoppen to see Mr. Weiss. On the 20th he went to Indianfield, and by the 22nd was back again at Philadelphia. On November 4th he went to New Jersey, 33 miles. But during the winter, owing to the inclemency of the weather and the roughness of the roads, he remained in Philadelphia, organizing that congregation and also the congregation at Germantown. But as soon as the spring opened, he started out in March again and by the end of April, in response to many letters, he made a journey southward. On May 2, 1747, he arrived at Yorktown (York), visiting Conewago, Monocacy, and returning to Philadelphia by way of Lancaster, May 14, having traveled homeward 88 miles. On June 10, he started on an extensive trip to Seltenreich’s congregation, near Lancaster, Donegal, Modencreek, Cocalico and Weiseichland, where he found a pious tailor named Templeman had been preaching to the people. Then he went to Tulpehocken, and eastward to Manatawny, Magunschy, Egypt, and Bethlehem, where he met with Jacob Lischy, who had been fraternizing with the Moravians; but who, repenting of this, now agreed to join the Reformed Church. He returned by way of {58} Sacony and Springfield to Philadelphia, where he arrived July 3rd.

On September 29th, 1747, the first Coetus of our Church was held at Philadelphia. Rev. Messrs. Boehm, Weiss, Rieger and Schlatter were the ministers present. There were also 27 elders present from the congregations in Philadelphia, Falkner Swamp, Providence and Witpen, Old Goshenhoppen and Great Swamp, Schaffer’s church and Erlentown, Tulpehocken, Indianfield, Springfield, Blue Mountain and Egypt, Klein Lechau (Little Lehigh), Sacony, and York-12 congregations in all, Lancaster, however, being unrepresented because it had no pastor. The first item of business was the formal reading of Mr. Schlatter’s instructions from the Synods of Holland, which were approved by the Coetus. Then he read his journal, in which he detailed his travels and the results of his attempts to organize the various charges. The Coetus appointed Mr. Schlatter to make a report to the Synod of Holland for their approval and to ask for more ministers, especially for Manakesy Caniketschek in Maryland, Schanador, South Branch, Botomic, Lykens Run and Germantown. It also took action in regard to Mr. Lischy and decided that the monies collected by Rev. Mr. Boehm in New York should be given to the Church in Witpen Township, Montgomery County.

In the fall of 1747 Mr. Schlatter visited York and also western New Jersey. In the spring of 1748 he made a longer tour, going as far as Frederick, Md. Very interesting are his notes. “On the 10th of May, after we had gone twenty miles farther, we took our dinner in Fredericktown, in Virginia. On this road we met a fearful rattlesnake seven or eight feet long {59} and five inches thick across the back. This is one of the most dangerous kinds of snakes. Still it warns the traveler by rattling when he is even yet twenty steps off, so that he has time to avoid it.” “On the 15th of May, I preached at Fredericktown, in a new church which is not yet finished, standing behind a table upon which had been placed the holy covenant seals of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. When I was preparing myself for the first prayer and saw the tears of the spiritually hungry souls roll down their cheeks, my heart was singularly moved and enkindled with love, so that I fell on my knees, in which the whole congregation followed me, and with much love and holy desire I commended the house and the congregation to the Triune God and wrestled for a blessing from the Lord upon them.”

He returned to Philadelphia by May 19. On September 28, 1748, the second Coetus was held at Philadelphia. Rev. Mr. Weiss was absent, but three new ministers had come from Europe; Rev. Messrs. Leydich, Bartholomaus and Hochreutiner. This Coetus formally adopted the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort as its Creeds. Rev. Mr. Schlatter continued his journeys through the churches, often preaching day after day, traveling thousands of miles, and organizing the churches.

The Coetus of 1749 met at Lancaster, September 27th. But a storm was gathering in the new Coetus. Rev. Mr. Steiner, of Switzerland, a fine pulpit orator, had arrived at Philadelphia September 25, 1749, and Coetus held a special meeting October 20th of that year to receive him. He was called to Lancaster, but delayed his going and soon a party was formed in the Philadelphia congregation favorable to him and against Mr. Schlatter. This resulted in a division in the {60} congregation, but the civil courts decided in favor of the Schlatter party. A new congregation was then formed of which Mr. Steiner became the pastor (1750-1751) when he resigned and afterward Rev. Mr. Rubel took charge of the congregation. But the Synods of Holland decided against Rubel and he left (1755). Finally the new congregation went back into the old church; and once again united, called Rev. Mr. Steiner (1759-1762).

In 1751 Rev. Mr. Schlatter was requested by the Coetus to go to Europe to get money and ministers for the Pennsylvania congregations, who were as scattered sheep having no shepherd. He visited Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, and created a great interest in the Pennsylvania churches: He stated that there were 30,000 Reformed in Pennsylvania in 46 congregations, with only six ministers to serve them. He also refers in this appeal to the missionary work of Eliot and Brainerd among the Indians. Even the poor Palatinate Reformed Church, though then struggling for its very existence under a Catholic rule, raised three hundred dollars for the fund for Pennsylvania. The States General of Holland and West Friesland granted $800 a year. But best of all, Mr. Schlatter was able to secure six young ministers for America, with whom he arrived in Pennsylvania, July 28, 1752. It now looked as if the German churches were to be placed on a firmer footing, but a new difficulty soon confronted them.

One of the things that was expected to greatly aid them was the one that turned out to their injury. Mr. Schlatter’s trip to Europe created so much interest that Rev. Mr. Thomson, pastor of the English Reformed congregation at Amsterdam, went to England and Scotland and, with others, raised {61} considerable money, about $20,000, to establish charity schools among the Germans here. This kindly movement, however, soon roused great opposition among the Germans, which was led especially by Saur, the publisher, of Germantown. The English circular describing the scheme cast serious reflections, some thought, on the Germans here, for illiteracy and poverty and semi-heathenism. Some of them suspected it was an effort to rob them of their loved German language, as English was to be taught in the schools; while others looked on it as an effort to secretly introduce the Episcopal Church among the Germans. Rev. Mr. Schlatter, by request of the Trustees, became the Superintendent of these charity schools. At first the Coetus stood by Mr. Schlatter and the charity schools and suggested two of its ministers, Rev. Messrs. Otterbein and Stoy, as persons who could be used by that society, but by and by the opposition to them became so strong that it reacted against Mr. Schlatter too, and he became very unpopular with the Germans. In 1754 Mr. Schlatter was dismissed from the Coetus at the request of the Holland Fathers.

For 33 years he lived at Germantown and never in all those years attended a Coetus meeting, although he occasionally, it is said, preached in Reformed churches. Nevertheless, he did a remarkable work in the few years that he was in the Coetus. During the ten years that he labored for it, his labors were incessant. He gave himself no rest, riding occasionally as high as 80 miles a day, preaching day after day, and outdoing other ministers, who sometimes tired by the way and had to stop. In all he traveled more than 8,000 miles, not counting his travels across the ocean to Europe and back. All honor to him and his industry. {62}

Mr. Schlatter, having retired from the Coetus, became chaplain in the British army and was at the siege of Louisburg, Nova Scotia, in 1757. After his return he lived at his home, “Sweetland,” Chestnut Hill, near Germantown. In 1764 he was appointed chaplain of the Bouquet expedition to Pittsburgh (Fort Pitt) against the French. During the Revolution his home was attacked and plundered by the British, who still looked on him as a chaplain of their army, and were angry with him for his sympathy with the American cause. He died in 1790, universally respected, and having among his intimate acquaintances many of the leading men of Pennsylvania such as General Hiester.

History of the Coetus

Our early Reformed Church had to pass through many vicissitudes before it was permanently founded and could spread itself through our Western land. We have already called attention to some of the dangers that surrounded it. In Boehm’s time the Moravian movement threatened to undermine it. In Schlatter’s time the quarrel concerning Steiner and Rubel threatened to divide it. As an ecclesiastical body, it now began growing more compact. But now, instead of danger within the Church, political dangers outside of it appeared. The French war broke out and some of the border churches suffered a good deal (1755). Rev. Mr. Stoy vividly describes the sufferings of the Tulpehocken charge from the Indians. The charge of Wissler on the Lehigh, near Allentown, also suffered. But although political dangers threatened it, the Church began to increase in efficiency. This was due {63} to the fact that some of her best ministers began to arrive, as Alsentz, Gros, Weyberg, Bucher, Henop, Hendel, Gobrecht, J. F. Faber, Pomp, and later Helffenstein and Helffrich. The Church had often been compelled to contend with unworthy men, who tried to become pastors of the congregations or to be elected into the Coetus such as Pithan at Easton, Berger at Reading, and later Spangenberg at Shamokin, and others. Nobly she tried to prevent these adventurers from entering like wolves into her fold and scattering the sheep. Over against these she began rearing her own ministry, in addition to receiving those sent from Holland. Wack, Wagner, Weymer and others she trained herself, as they studied privately under Hendel, Gros, Weyberg, and others.

When the American Revolution broke out, the Coetus had spread her territory beyond the Blue Mountains on the north and westward down the Cumberland Valley to Frederick, Hagerstown, and Baltimore. The Germans pretty generally sympathized with the Americans against England, although there were some Tories among them. One minister, Stahlschmidt, reveals the awkward position of some of our ministers, in his book, “A Pilgrimage by Land and Sea.” He says: “I acted with extreme caution, so as not to give offence to the Royalists in my congregation (near York), but where such a party spirit reigns, it is impossible for a minister’s political sentiments to remain long concealed. An order was issued by the American government to march against the enemy, which produced such confusion that I could not do otherwise than advise them to yield as much as possible to present circumstances, because it was incumbent upon us to be obedient to the existing authorities in all things not {64} contrary to conscience. Those who vented their rage against the Congress were dissatisfied with me, especially one Royalist, who went about among the congregation and stirred them up against me. The confusion increasing to the highest pitch, I perceived it was best to resign my charge.” He left and went back to Europe.

But many of the Reformed ministers were more outspoken patriots than Stahlschmidt. We have not yet found any action taken by the Coetus in favor of the Colonies and against England. Perhaps, although most of the ministers were patriots, yet they did not think it wise to mingle politics with their Coetus’ acts, especially as they were under the control of a foreign Church and did not wish to implicate Holland or complicate her relations to England. The meetings of the Coetus were sometimes interfered with by the war, so that in 1778 and 1780 there was no meeting held. And although almost every alternate Coetus had been held in Philadelphia, yet after 1774 for seven years no meeting was held there. Sometimes owing to the war, the Philadelphia and Germantown churches, especially the former, would be cut off from the other congregations, and the White Marsh, Skippach, and Germantown congregations were overrun at times by marching armies. The ministry often suffered much from non-payment of salaries, owing to the scarcity of money or its little value. Thus Stahlschmidt, of whom we spoke above, says that when he resigned to go away to Europe, “there were thousands of dollars due him on his salary, but as sixty or seventy paper dollars were only equivalent to one silver one, he could for all this money scarcely procure a new coat for himself.” On the Indian borders, especially the Lykens Valley, there {65} were many dangers. In 1779 the ministers of the Coetus were so much impressed by the danger and uncertainty around them, that they appointed a day of prayer and appointed a committee to issue a call to the people for prayer to God for guidance. At the end of the war the Coetal letter to the fathers in Holland rejoices that the war is over, and they pay their respects to Holland by congratulating themselves on being citizens of a republic, like Holland.

But while the Coetus itself does not seem to have taken any political action, many of the individual ministers did. The First Reformed church of Philadelphia was known for the sympathy of its pastor, Weyberg, and its people, with the patriots. When a memorial service was to be held February 19, 1776, on the death of General Montgomery, who was killed in the attack on Quebec, the Reformed congregation boldly threw open its doors for that meeting, although there were many Tories about and it was somewhat dangerous to do so. Indeed Dr. Weyberg dared even when the British were occupying Philadelphia, to preach such patriotic sermons that the British (fearing he would influence the Hessians, many of whom were Reformed and attended his German services, to desert) imprisoned him. When the British departed from Philadelphia and the congregation again regained possession of their church (which had been used as a hospital by the British), Dr. Weyberg took the significant text, “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance. Thy holy temple have they defiled” Ps. 79:1.

Dr. Hendel was accustomed to go over the Blue Mountains north of Tulpehocken to preach to the Reformed in the Lykens Valley. His sympathy with the {66} patriots was so well known that this trip was quite dangerous, as the Indians on that border sympathized with the British. So a delegation of the Reformed would come armed to meet him at the entrance of the valley and guard him to the church, watch while he was preaching, and act as his bodyguard on the journey homeward until they brought him back safely to the Tulpehocken.

Several of the prominent officers of the Revolution were members of the Reformed Church. General Herkimer, the hero of Oriskany, a battle in New York State, was a German Reformed, and General Philip Schuyler was a Dutch Reformed. Baron Steuben was also a member of the Reformed Church of New York City. He created a great furor among the Germans here, for he had been an officer in the famous army of Frederick the Great of Prussia, the military hero of Europe. He came to our land to bring the tactics to our army that had made Frederick victorious, and he probably saved our cause by his military drills. “After his coming,” says Lessing, “the army was drilled and after this the Continental Congress regulars were never beaten in a fair fight. Before he came the American soldier, because he did not know how to use the bayonet, had lost faith in it as a piece of armor. The only use of it to which he had been accustomed had been to roast his meat with it over the fire. Yet in a little more than a year after Baron Steuben came, an American column, without firing a gun, stormed Stony Point, on the Hudson, and captured it after one of the most splendid bayonet charges of history.”

Nine miles west of Reading is one of the oldest Reformed churches in Pennsylvania, formerly called the Cacusi, now called the Hain’s church (near Wernersville). {67} It had over the door the inscription placed there by its first builders when that church was built (1766), “All who go in and out must be true to the God and the King.” After the war was over, one of its builders said the word “king” must be cut out, and the word “king” was cut out, and so the inscription remains mutilated to this day, a silent witness to the patriotism of the members of that church.

Thus the Reformed proved faithful to the American government. After the war was over the Coetus presented General Washington (1789) with a letter of congratulation when he was elected President. General Washington, although an Episcopalian, attended the Reformed church at Germantown under Dr. Hendel’s ministry, and rumor has it that he communed there. And after Washington’s death the Cincinnati Society, founded in 1783, by the officers of the Revolutionary army, met in the First Reformed Church of Philadelphia, Feb. 22, 1800, to commemorate his death.



[1]For a full description of the persecutions of our forefathers, the only full description in English, see History of the Reformed Church In the United States, by Rev. James I. Good, D.D.

[2]See History of the Reformed Church in the U.S., by Rev. James I, Good, D.D. pages {62-64}.

[3]For his companion, Mr. Reiff, kept it for a number of years until Rev. Mr. Schlatter came, when a settlement was made.

[4]A sort of synod having less independent powers than the synod.

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