40. Organizing Pennsylvania Synod. -- To stablish the congregations, Muhlenberg, with five pastors and ten congregations, on August 26, 1748, organized the Pennsylvania Synod, then generally called "The United Congregations" or "The United Pastors." This event has been designated by Dr. Graebner "the most important in the history of the American Lutheran Church of the eighteenth century." From the very beginning Muhlenberg's three original congregations were called "The United Congregations." This name was extended also to the congregations subsequently organized or served by Muhlenberg and his colaborers at Germantown, Lancaster, Tulpehocken, York, etc. And pastors and congregations being imbued, as they were, with one and the same spirit, and considering themselves parts of one and the same church, consisting of "The College of Pastors (Collegium Pastorum)" on the one hand and "The United Congregations" on the other, it was but natural that they should unite in a regular synod with regular meetings. The year 1748 was most opportune and suggestive for such an organization. Pastor Hartwick of Rhinebeck had come to Philadelphia. Nicholas Kurtz had arrived in order to be ordained as pastor for the congregation at Tulpehocken. The dedication of St. Michael's Church in Philadelphia brought other representative Lutherans to the city. The Swedes were represented by Provost Sandin and Peter Kock (Koch), a trustee of Gloria Dei Church, who zealously advocated synodical connection between the Germans and Swedes. Before the public services, Pastors Brunnholtz, Handschuh, and Hartwick met to examine Kurtz. His answers were approved of in Halle as creditable even to candidates in Germany. On the following day, Sunday, St. Michael's was dedicated. Provost Sandin headed the procession from Brunnholtz's parsonage to the new church. "Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord," was sung. A letter from the Swedish pastor Tranberg, regretting his absence and congratulating the congregation in English, was then read. The address emphasized that "the foundation of this church was laid with the intention that the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine should be taught therein according to the foundation of the prophets and apostles, and according to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the other symbolical books." After singing another hymn, six prayers were offered, two in Swedish by the Swedish pastors, and four in German by Brunnholtz, Hartwick, Handschuh, and Mr. Kock. After another hymn a child was baptized, and a sermon preached by Handschuh. Hereupon the ministers, with a few of the congregation, received the Lord's Supper. In the afternoon Hartwick preached the ordination sermon. Then, the lay delegates standing in a semicircle about the altar, Provost Sandin and the four German pastors ordained Kurtz. Muhlenberg read the liturgical formula. On Monday, August 26 (15 Old Style), 1748, the first session of Synod was held, N. Kurtz, the newly ordained pastor, delivering the opening sermon.
41. First Session of Synod. -- According to the minutes, written by Brunnholtz and signed by the four German pastors residing in Pennsylvania and a number of lay delegates, the synod consisted of six ministers (including Sandin and Hartwick) and twenty-four delegates, exclusive of the church council of the Philadelphia congregation: four lay delegates from Germantown, three from Providence, three from New Hanover, two from Upper Milford, one from Saccum, three from Tulpehocken, one from Nordkiel, six from Lancaster, and one from Earlingtown. Peter Kock represented the Swedish laity. The congregation at York, in a letter, regretted the absence of representatives. The organization proceeded without the adoption of any formulated constitution. Though not formally elected, Muhlenberg, by virtue of his first call and commission by the authorities in Halle, was president of the synod. When, at the second meeting of the synod, in 1749, Brunnholtz, on motion of Muhlenberg, was elected overseer of all the United Congregations, this was ignored by the authorities in Halle, and, Brunnholtz's health failing, the office was soon transferred to Muhlenberg, who exercised it for many years. At the first meeting, after the hymn, "Du suesse Lieb', schenk' uns deine Gunst," was sung, Muhlenberg addressed the assembly, saying, in part: This union was desired for a long time. The effort made five years ago in the Swedish church was frustrated by Nyberg. Unity among us is necessary. Every member in the congregation has children. In their interest elders are required to assist in making a good church order. For this purpose we are here assembled, and, God willing, shall meet annually. "We preachers, here present," Muhlenberg emphasized, "have not run of ourselves, but have been called here and urged to go. We are bound to render account to God and to our consciences. We maintain connection with our fathers in Europe. We must not only care for ourselves, but also for our descendants." In part, Muhlenberg's remarks reflected on Stoever, Streit (Streiter, as he is called in the minutes), Andreae, and Wagner. These ministers had not been invited to participate in the organization of the synod, because, as a declaration put on record by synod explains, "1. they, without reason, decry us [Muhlenberg and his adherents] as Pietists; 2. are not sent and have neither an internal nor an external call; 3. are unwilling to observe a uniform order of service with us, each following the ceremonies of his country; 4. an experience of six years had taught Muhlenberg that their object was nothing but bread; 5. they were subject to no consistory and gave no account of the exercise of their office." The lay delegates were called upon to give a report concerning the efficiency of their pastors, and their opinion concerning the new liturgy, which they regarded as too long. Also the condition of the parochial schools was inquired into. The conference with the laymen was adjourned Monday afternoon, after which they dined together. The pastors then attended to business generally regarded as belonging to them. Hartwick addressed the elders, wishing their congregations every blessing. The Swedish provost expressed his desire to be a member of the body. But Peter Kock having died, no Swede attended the meeting in the following year. Seven annual meetings were held by the United Congregations, the last at New Hanover in 1754. Revived by Dr. Wrangel and Muhlenberg in 1760, this oldest Lutheran synod in America exists to the present day as "The Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania." (Graebner, 301 ff.)