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Justus Falckner Ordination Tercentenary


The Rev. Justus Falckner, the first Lutheran pastor to be ordained in the western hemisphere three centuries ago, will be remembered in a special Episcopal-Lutheran liturgy at the recently renovated Philadelphia Cathedral, 38th and Chestnut Streets, at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, November 23, 2003.

Bishops Charles Bennison of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Roy G. Almquist of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Lutheran Church will participate in the service. The preacher will be the Rt. Rev. Frederick Borsch, a New Testament scholar and former bishop of Los Angeles who is now the first holder of the Chair of Anglican Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Rectors of the Delaware Valley's eight historic Old Swedes churches are expected to attend the service, making this the first time since 1784 that the Swedish Ministerium has assembled.

Music will be provided by the Swedish Museum Singers who will sing hymns of the colonial period including "Rise, Ye Children of Salvation," composed by Falckner in 1697.

Re-enactors from Wilmington's New Sweden Centre will dramatize Falckner's 1703 ordination by Pastors Andreas Rudman, Erik Björk, and Jonas Auren at the Swedish Church at Wicacoa (now Gloria Dei) in Philadelphia.

Falckner has been described by a noted Lutheran historian as "a man of excellent gifts, of fine acquirements, of lovely temper and of fervent disposition." In the Raritan Valley on the New Jersey frontier in 1705, he organized a Lutheran service at the home of Aree and Jora von Guinea, freed slaves from Dutch Guiana. This is the origin of Zion Church in Oldwick, NJ, founded in 1714, the state's oldest continuing Lutheran congregation.

During his travels over a broad area, Falckner ministered to a diverse flock, including African and Native Americans, Swedes, Dutch and Germans, and went on to serve the Dutch Lutheran Church in New York and Albany.

For more information, contact the Rev. Dr. Kim-Eric Williams, chaplain to the Philadelphia-based Swedish Colonial Society and author of The Journey of Justus Falckner 1672-1723, who may be reached at (610) 692-6386 or on line at

Links to related sites:

Philadelphia Cathedral

Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania