Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe
A simple description of Wilhelm Loehe would be that he was born in Fuerth, Germany in 1808. He became a pastor in 1837 in the small village of Neuendettelsau. He never moved to a larger congregation. He died there in 1872.Then why is he remembered today, January 2?
Loehe is an example that one does not need to be from a large place in order to have a large impact. A hint of his impact, is found in that the first four pastors at Holy Cross in Collinsville, Il, from 1848 to 1900, were trained by Loehe. The chapel at Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa is named in his honor. His name is on the wall of the library of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, along with one of his students, Frederick Lochner, first pastor at Holy Cross.
He founded the Neuendettelsau Foreign Mission Society at which he trained and sent pastors, not only to North America, but also to Australia, Brazil, New Guinea and the Ukraine.
He had an interest in restoring the liturgy. He developed a service in which catechumens were questioned weekly on Luther’s Small Catechism. Such a service was used at Holy Cross until the early 20th century. The service of Prayer and Preaching in LSB, pp. 260-267, is patterned after that tradition.
Loehe wrote, “Worship is the most beautiful flower of earthly life.” Of Holy Communion he wrote, “You have one week behind you, a new week lies in front of you. Between these two weeks is the day of Communion Sunday” like an island in the middle of an ocean. Loehe’s interest in Christian charity led to him to found a deaconess training house and homes for the aged.
Through his financial support, a seminary was established in Fort Wayne, Indiana and a teachers’ institute in Saginaw, Michigan.
Lutheranism in the United States owes much to this 19th century man who had a vision for the Kingdom of God.