Tuesday, April 8, 2008

William Augustus Muhlenberg, Priest

William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) is considered to be the father of the Episcopal Church School Movement in the United States. He was a Protestant Episcopal clergyman in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 16, 1796, and was a great-grandson of Henry Muhlenberg and grandson of Frederick Muhlenberg.

Muhlenberg was born into a distinguished German Lutheran family, but was attracted to the Episcopal Church by its use of English, he was ordained in 1817. He was active in promoting the Sunday School movement, and concerned that the Church should minister to all social groups. He wrote hymns and compiled hymnals, greatly expanding the range of music in Episcopal churches.

In 1828 he founded, and for twenty years headed, Flushing Institute (later St Paul's College), a boys' school in Flushing, New York. There he made extensive use of music, flowers, vestments, and an emphasis on the Church year and on sacramental worship, with the weekly reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion, while at the same time preaching with great force and conviction the Reformation doctrines of grace and of justification by faith. Out of his ministry came inspiration for the establishment of Church schools and hospitals, and an outreach to the poor.

In 1846 he founded the Church of the Holy Communion in New York City, with a parish school, a parish unemployment fund, and trips to the country for poor city children. He called himself an "Evangelical Catholic," and by his firm stand for Evangelical Faith, Apostolic Order, and Corporal Works of Mercy, he spoke to all parties in the Church while belonging to none. As one writer has said, "There was not a significant area of the Church's life, during his ministry, that he did not elevate and strengthen by the pureness of his life and the vigor of his consecrated imagination."


Do not let Thy Church close its eyes, O Lord, to the plight of the poor and neglected, the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick,the lonely and those who have no one to care for them. Give us the vision and compassion with which Thou didst so richly endow Thy servant William Augustus Muhlenberg, that we may labor tirelessly to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Psalm 84:1-6
Ephesians 4:11-16
St. Matthew 21:12-16

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