Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Christopher Saur Historical Marker is dedicated in Philadelphia.

On April 19, an official Pennsylvania Historical Marker honoring the life of Christopher Saur (1695-1758) was dedicated in Philadelphia. The event was held by the Historical Committee of the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Saur printed the first European language Bible in America as well as numerous other religious books and hymnals. His German newspaper was the most widely read in Colonial America, and he used his power and the influence of his press to improve conditions for the German immigrant minority in Pennsylvania.

The event took place at Trinity Lutheran Church on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, across the street from where the marker will be placed. On the church grounds is the only building owned by Saur that survives to this day. Street construction prevented the marker from being installed on the day of its dedication, but it should be placed by the end of June.

Around 40 people attended, including two families who are Saur descendants. Bryan Van Sweden represented the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; his wife is a Saur descendant. Ken Leininger, a book dealer and avid Saur collector from Cocalico Church of the Brethren in Denver, Pa., brought a 1743 Saur bible and several books printed by Saur. The committee made a display of the highlights of Saur’s life. Included in the display was a photograph of the Saur stained glass from Bethany Theological Seminary, taken by Jim Chagares. Al Huston's video about Saur was viewed by many attendees.

Stephen L. Longenecker, professor and chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Bridgewater (Va.) College, gave a keynote address describing Saur as a man of conviction who was a staunch separatist, fought slavery, and used his influence politically to improve the life of the German immigrant minority group. Longenecker highlighted the importance of stimulating historical interest using markers, and remarked about the lessons the present-day church can learn from Saur's many benevolent activities.

Kay Weaver, director of Stewardship for Atlantic Northeast District and a member of the Historical Committee, led the singing of hymns from the 1901 Brethren Hymnal highlighting the importance of the Bible. Opening and closing prayers were offered by district moderator John Hostetter and pastor Robert DiSalvio of Amwell Church of the Brethren in Stockton, N.J.

-- David Fuchs is chair of the Atlantic Northeast District Historical Committee.

Source: 4/22/2009 Newsline

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