Ohio History Journal

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Associate Professor of History, Baldwin-Wallace College

Without German Pietism John Wesley would not have had a warming of

the heart. He would have remained a devoted, strict churchman, somewhat

bigoted, fulfilling his ecclesiastical duties unflinchingly, but he would never

have gained access to the hearts of the multitudes, he would not have

kindled a fire that enlightened and warmed the hearts and lives of millions

in all parts of the globe and changed the spiritual atmosphere of the world.

Without American activism Wilhelm Nast would have led a useful

life as a scholar and professor, hidden in his classroom and study, the

author of learned books, which accumulated distinction and dust in the

libraries of theological seminaries, but he would never have become the

founder and leader of the hosts of German Methodists, who made valuable

and permanent contributions to the religious life of America and of con-

tinental Europe.1

This is the most general statement of the religious influences

that, with increasingly specific reference, operated between Germany

and America, American Methodism and German Methodism, Ger-

man Methodism and Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio,

American Methodism and the Methodist seminary in Frankfurt-am-

Main, and finally between the seminary on the Main and the

college on Rocky River. This study begins with a mention of the

notable immigration of Germans to America in the nineteenth cen-

tury, and ends with a description of the mutual ties between an

American college and a German seminary. In the midst lies the

fascinating story of cultural influences and counter-influences that

spanned the Atlantic Ocean in at least eight different phases.

Certainly ever since the sixteenth century people of German

nationality had been bidding farewell to their native land and

voyaging forth in search of a peaceful, more secure life. At first

for religious2 and later for political and economic reasons3 a vast

1 Bishop John L. Nuelsen in his introduction to Paul F. Douglass, The Story

of German Methodism (New York, 1939), xvi.

2 See Frederick A. Norwood, The Reformation Refugees as an Economic Force

(Chicago, 1942), Chap. I.

3 Such as the Thirty Years' War and the devastations ensuing, the wars of Louis

XIV, and the campaigns of Napoleon.