F. C. D. Wyneken: Wikis


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Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken (May 13, 1810 – May 4, 1876) was a missionary, pastor and the second president of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

One hundred years after fellow Hannoverian Henry Muhlenberg brought together the pastors and congregations of colonial America, Wyneken gathered scattered German Protestants into confessional Lutheran congregations and forged them into a closely knit family of churches. It was Wyneken's influence which brought Wilhelm Sihler from Germany to America. Wyneker's missionary experience, method and plan would influence American Lutheran missions for many years to come. He has been called the "thunder after the lightning." [1] He is commemorated on the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod on May 4.


Early life

“On the 22nd (of May 1810), my son [was baptized],”wrote newborn Friedrich Wyneken's proud father, Pastor Heinrich Christoph Wyneken. His entry in the church book of his parish, St. Andreas of Verden, Kingdom of Hannover, goes on to say, “(He was born) Of...my wife, Anne Catharine Louise, nee Meyer, on the 13th:” The Young Fritz Wyneken was the tenth of eleven children, the sixth of six sons. He joined a family of dedicated and prominent servants of heavenly and earthly kingdoms. Wynekens served as pastors and officers in a variety of occupations in Denmark and Germany.

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When Friedrich was five years old, his father died, leaving his mother Louise to raise their eleven children. To accomplish this, she depended on a meager church pension, took in boarders and called on family and friends to make ends meet.

Friedrich attended Gymnasium in his home town of Verden. At age seventeen, he enrolled at the University of Göttingen, the traditional Wyneken alma mater. Yet the school's strict atmosphere and its students' vulgar behavior proved intolerable to the young man. After one semester, Friedrich enrolled in University of Halle's Theological Faculty, where he remained until he graduated two and a half years later.18 At Halle, Friedrich found a mentor in August Tholuck, a leader of 19th Century German Awakening and supporter of the Prussian Union.19 During Friedrich's years at Halle, Tholuck taught courses in New Testament, Dogmatics and the History of Doctrine.

Through his influence, Wyneken became an “awakened” and "believing" Christian. Upon graduation, Wyneken served as a private instructor in the home of Consistorial Counselor von Henfstengel at Leesum, a town near Bremen.21 The area was a stronghold for the Awakening and a place where Friedrich Wyneken would grow both in his faith in Christ and zeal for missions. No doubt his relatives played a part in this development, since many of them lived in the area. After four years in Leesum, he briefly served as the director of a Latin School in Bremervörde and then a private instructor of a boy, whose health required him to live in Italy and the South of France. Wyneken's education and experience had made him into a strong, convinced pietist, full of zeal for the Lord and “a fanatic full of fire to oppose strict churchhness.”

Wyneken returned to Germany in 1837, fully groomed for a promising career in the church. He would soon read accounts of the spiritual needs of German Lutherans on the American frontier in the journals of mission societies. What Wyneken learned about German Lutherans in America touched off a struggle in the heart of the young man. In these words, Friedrich would later describe that moment to Candidate A. Biewend, himself on the verge of a decision to volunteer.

Sadly, I have to confess that, as far as I know, neither love of the Lord, nor love of orphaned brothers drove me to America. I wasn't even driven by a natural desire to go. I went there against my will and fighting the decision. I went because it was my duty. My conscience compelled me. It grieved me so much then and still grieves me now that I didn't-still don't-love the Lord more than that and that He had to drive me out to work like a slave. Even today, dreadful challenges and temptations, doubts and griefs come over my soul when I'm serving in my once over there. It comforts me, that I can say: "I have to be over there. You know, Lord, how I'd like to stay here at home. But if I stayed, I wouldn't be able to look up to you and pray to you. So, then, I surely must go of my free will.

At peace with God and sure of his decision, Friedrich Wyneken obtained release from his duties as a tutor. He was ordained with fellow candidate, C. W. Wolf. Eighty-year-old General Superintendent Ruperti conducted the rite at St. Wilhadi Church of Stade on May 8, 1837. With the help of Gottfried Treviranus, the Reformed pastor of St. Martin Church in Bremen, Wyneken and Wolf made the acquaintance of Captain Stuerje, who provided the pair of missionaries free passage to America on his ship, the Caroline.

Wyneken and Wolf arrived in Baltimore in July 1838. They wandered around the city, looking for Lutherans. After mistaking an Otterbein Methodist prayer meeting for a Lutheran worship service, they found their way to Second Evangelical Lutheran Church and Pastor Johann Haesbaert. Haesbaert was also an "awakened" pastor, who had led a group of Lutheran and Reformed Germans to secede from a congregation served by a Rationalist minister. He was very suspicious of Wyneken and Wolf, since laymen, con-men and “every expelled student or banished demagogue” regularly preyed on unsuspecting congregations to make some quick cash. It did not help at all that the two young men brought no written credentials or letters of introduction with them. Yet Wyneken's warmth and sincerity inclined Haesbaert to put aside his misgivings. Haesbaert's fears were finally set to rest, when, Captain Stuerje testified to their character.


To seal their newly formed friendship, Wolf preached the following Sunday. Soon after that, Haesbaert fell sick and was confined to his bed. Wyneken served his congregation as substitute pastor for several weeks. Sometime during this period, Wolf went West ahead of his companion, settling in Marietta, Ohio. When Haesbaert had recovered, he tried to convince his new Hanoverian friend to stay in the east. Failing to convince Wyneken to stay, the Baltimore pastor advised, "You must not travel on to the West under your own authority. I will write the Missions Committee of the Pennsylvania Synod, advising that they should send you out as their missionary."

The timing was providential. At the 1839 Convention of the German-Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Pennsylvania, its Missionary Society met. The executive committee reported that in the latter part of 1838, Missionary Kohler had decided to accept a call in Eastern Pennsylvania, and thus was unavailable for continued service in the West.

Johann Haesbaert's letter arrived in August highly recommending Wyneken to them. The Executive Committee invited Wyneken to visit Lancaster,Pennsylvania, to meet with them. In the company of Haesbaert, Friedrich met with the committee. So convinced of his fitness for the task and likely moved by his zeal for the work, the Missionary Society set aside their usual practice of waiting until September to send out their workers. They commissioned him to “move to Indiana, to search for scattered German Protestants to preach to them, and, if possible, gather them into congregations.” While the Committee intended Wyneken to make Indiana his base of operations, they intended to have him range widely throughout the frontier, directing him to labor in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

Credentials in hand, Wyneken embarked upon his ministry as a Missionary, traveling in the company of Haesbaert as far as Havre de Grace, Maryland. In Pittsburgh, he met for the first time, C.F. Schmidt, the editor of Lutberische Kirchenzeitung, who would prove a close friend and the channel through which Wyneken’s first appeals would reach the world. From Pittsburgh, Wyneken traveled by train and canal boat to Zelienople, where he purchased a horse and cheerfully rode off to be the Lutheran Apostle of the West.


    1. ^ Christian Hochstetter. Die Geschichte der Evangelisch-lutherischen Missouri-Synode in Nord-Amerika, und

ihrer Lehrkämpfe. Dresden: Heinrich J. Naumannm, 1885. 116.

External links

Books and articles About F.C.D. Wyneken

  • Dau, W.T.H. Ebenezer: Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod During Three Quarters of a Century. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. pp. 52ff, chapter on "F.C.D. Wyneken".
  • Hageman, Gustav. Friedrich Konrad Dietrich Wyneken: Pioneer Missionary of the Nineteenth Century. Men and Missions Series. St. Louis: Concordia, 1926.
  • Lindemann, J.C.W. "F.C.D. Wyneken." in Amerikanischer Kalender für deutsche Lutheraner auf das jahr 1877 nach der Geburt unsers Herrn Jesu Christi. St. Louis: Der deutschen Ev. Luth. Synode von Missouri, Ohio u. a. Staaten, 1876.
  • Rehmer, Rudolph. "The Impact of Wyneken's Notruf." in Missionary to America: The History of Lutheran Outreach to Americans. Essays and Reports of the Lutheran Historical Conference 15. St. Louis: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1992.
  • Rehmer, Rudolph. "Report of the Executive Committee of the Missionary Society of the Synod of Pennsylvania, Containing Brother Wynecken's [sic] Report:" Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 20 (1947)no. 3:124-25.
  • Saleska, Edward John. Friedrich Conrad Dieterich Wyneken 1810-1876. STM thesis. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1946.
  • Smith, Robert E. "Wyneken as Missionary" Let Christ be Christ. Daniel Harmelink, ed. Huntington Beach, CA: Tentatio Press, 1999. 321-340. [1]
  • Threinen, Norman J. "Wyneken and 19th Century German Lutheranism: An Attempt to Mobilize Confessional Lutherans in Germany in Behalf of Lutherans in North America." in Missionary to America: The History of Lutheran Outreach to Americans. Essays and Reports of the Lutheran Historical Conference 15. St. Louis:Lutheran Historical Conference, 1992.
  • Threinen, Norman J. "F.C.D. Wyneken: Motivator for the Mission" Concordia Theological Quarterly 60 (1996) Nos. 1-2.
Religious titles
Preceded by
C. F. W. Walther
Second President
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Succeeded by
C. F. W. Walther


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