Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 06, 2012

"Oldests" and "Firsts"

As St. Augustine, Florida, is my favorite historical vacation spot, I am accustomed to lots of “Old” this and “Oldest” that. Thus I started to wonder about each Reformation denomination’s oldest church in the United States. (There’s a mouthful: Reformation denomination. Catchy). Here is what my research yielded.
Some of the oldest churches in America:

      . . . Lutheran church: Augustus Lutheran Church, located in Trappe, Pennsylvania, was begun at the start of 1743 and semi-finished near the end of the year. Unable to wait any longer to hold services, the minister shepherded everyone inside a church that was basically empty and far from welcoming. Augustus Lutheran Church was finally finished in late 1745. Amazingly, this structure, dating from an era of Indian raids, inter-denominational squabbles, and harsh Pennsylvania winters, remains intact and can still be seen today.

      . . . Reformed church: Sadly, the oldest Reformed church no longer exists, and it appears as if the runner-up refers not to a church building itself but to a congregation. This is the First Church (North Dutch Church) in Albany, New York.

     . . . Anglican church: There seems to be some controversy over which is the oldest Anglican church . . . St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Trinity Church in New York City, or Old North Church in Boston. There may be different criteria, i.e. one may be the oldest building, one may be the oldest congregation, etc., but I’m not sure.

     . . . Anabaptist church: Though there are no “Anabaptist” churches in that particular capacity, the oldest Mennonite house of worship is located in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and was constructed in 1770.
Since I found these studies fascinating, I thought it might be interesting to see which where the oldest denominational churches in the world, and what I found was intriguing.
The oldest churches in the world:

      . . . Lutheran church: Haemelschenburg Castle Church, called the “oldest Lutheran church in the world still in use.” Located in Emmerthal, Germany, this impressive church has been utilized by a Lutheran congregation since the 1500s.
      . . . Reformed church: There is no “oldest Reformed church” per se, but the oldest “Reformed congregation,” which considers itself to have been Protestant before the Protestant Reformation and before Calvinism, is that of the Waldensian or Bohemian Church. (The Moravian Church has made similar claims, thus I do not know enough about their doctrines to say if they would consider themselves ‘Reformed’ or not).

     . . . Anglican church: Peartree Church, found in Southampton, England. This beautiful stone church was constructed in 1618. Many will agree there is something intensely spiritual and mysterious about old stone churches, and Peartree certainly lives up to its history.

     . . . Anabaptist church: An ancient Anabaptist church can be found in Langnau, Emmental, Switzerland, said to be the first of its kind. At this time I am unable to find much information.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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