Friday, January 08, 2010

SALT groups at UALC

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, which has three campuses (Upper Arlington, Hilliard, and Columbus Hilltop area) has for many years used committed, contract groups known as SALT to bring people together in small groups of 8-12. I haven't heard much about SALT groups lately--things are always changing and maybe they aren't the priority they once were. We've been in four groups over the last 35 years and they've all been "the church" for us. SALT means Sharing and Living Together, but I prefer Serving and Learning Together, since we technically don't live together and don't share much, not even location or worship style once we expanded beyond the liturgical service. The two things we do together as a real community is service and education. However, this blog entry is not about style or form, but about history and salt. Today I was reading Christianity in America, A Handbook and came across a little item that the SPCK had helped resettle the Salzburg Lutherans in Georgia when they were expelled from Austria in 1731. I'd never heard of that, so I googled it and learned:
    "Lutherans took the "salt oath," dipping one finger into a dish of salt or touching a salt block, then placing that finger on their tongue, while raising the other hand to God as Witness of loyalty to God's Word, identifying with Jesus' saying, You are the salt of the earth.(15)

    Saltzburg. Salzburg (Salt-city) was an independent city-state founded on the Salzach River in Europe named for a large salt mine discovered by the Celts and, later, the Romans. The additional discoveries of silver, gold, iron, and other ores furthered settlement and prosperity. In 1816 Salzburg was given to Austria.

    In 1727 Roman Catholic Count Leopold Anton Eleutherius von Firmian bought the office of Archbishop of Salzburg from the Pope for $75,000.00 (today's exchange) and upon the legal basis of the Peace of Augsburg tried to purify Salzburg of non-Catholic teachings. On October 31, 1731, he signed the Emigrationspatent or Edict of Expulsion for all persons who refused to accept the Roman Catholic faith and published the document on November 11, the anniversary of Luther's baptism. However, Archbishop Firmian was shocked when more than 20,000 citizens were listed as professing Protestant beliefs, but he forced them into exile.

    Tradesmen and miners were given only 8 days to dispose of goods. Land owners were given 3 months to sell and leave. All cattle, sheep, land, houses and furniture dumped on the market caused prices to plummet. Catholics bought Protestant goods and lands cheaply. All Protestant Bibles, books and hymnals were burned.

    The first Lutheran Salzburgers left, 1731, in a November snowstorm, seeking shelter in Protestant cities in Germany and Prussia. The Protestant King of Prussia, Frederick Wilhelm I of East Prussia and Lithuania, accepted 12,000 Salzburger emigrants.

    General James Edward Oglethorpe, wealthy young British Protestant Member of Parliament and philanthropist, was appointed in 1732 to head the new Colony of Georgia and settled there in 1733. Lutheran King George II of England (of German Lutheran extraction) offered aid through the Trustees for the Colony of Georgia to all Salzburgers willing to settle in the new Colony. Support came from Protestants in Augsburg, Germany, and from The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, S. P. C. K., in London. A group of Lutheran Salzburgers and Germans agreed to go to Georgia, organized their congregation at St. Ann's Lutheran Church in Augsburg, Germany, in 1733, then traveled down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Holland, where they were met by Lutheran pastors, Johann Martin Boltzius, age 31, and Israel Christian Gronau, age 27, who sailed with them to Dover, England, then to Georgia.

    On March 3, 1734, the Georgia Salzburger pastors read texts praising God for deliverance after a severe storm at sea nearing the end of their Atlantic voyage on the ship Purysburg. Among these texts was I Samuel 7:12. Samuel placed a stone where God had saved his people from their enemy and named it Eben-Ezer, stone of help.

    On March 11-12, 1734, the ship grounded on a sand bar off the coast of Georgia, increasing anxiety of shipwreck. Finally, on March 12, 1734, the first Salzburger immigrants landed safely at Savannah. Later, they were assigned land 25 miles north of Savannah by Gen. Oglethorpe in a swamp on a creek bordering Uchee Indians. The pastors chose the name Eben Ezer, stone of help, or monument to God's protection, and recommended the name to General Oglethorpe, who named the town, its bordering creek, and the Parish, Ebenezer.

    Half of the settlers died the first year of disease and Pastor Boltzius asked permission to settle on a high bluff of red clay bordering the Savannah River. Oglethorpe wanted, first, only English settlers on the river, but, later, granted permission and Pastor Boltzius led his flock to the new location of Ebenezer. The two locations are labeled on some maps as Old Ebenezer and New Ebenezer. Pastor Boltzius referred, unofficially, to Old Ebenezer, thus distinguishing their locations. He and Gen. Oglethorpe feared that news of a settlement failure at the old site might cut off funds from both London and Augsburg so they called the new site by the same name, Ebenezer.

    Financial support came from Lutheran friends in Germany, from The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in England and from the Trustees of the Georgia Colony. Theological and Political Roots of Georgia Salzburgers by The Rev. Frank L. Perry, Jr.
There is much more to this article, but I thought the "salt" connection was interesting. And the SPCK is still doing good works!
    The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) is the oldest Anglican mission agency in the world, founded by Thomas Bray in 1698. Working to fulfill his vision to "promote religion and learning" and to "propagate Christian knowledge," The USA chapter of SPCK, SPCK/USA, has been expanding the mission of SPCK since 1983.

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