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History of pietistic revival in Teschen by W. R. Ward

2008-09-02

 

Professor William Reginald Ward is the most eminent English-speaking historian dealing with the history of Jesus Church, especially with the pietistic revival in 18th century. Here you can see an extract from one of his newest contributions to the topic published in The Cambridge History of Christianity in 2006.

 

Silesian Protestantism, outside Breslau, seemed in the late seventeenth century to face the same kind of annihilation as that in Bohemia and Moravia after the Protestant defeat in the battle of White Mountain. The miners and shepherds in the Silesian hills, however, were not entirely helpless, for they could count on the support of the Berlin government which had long-term ambitions in Silesia; and in 1707, Sweden's attempt to break the mould of international politics brought additional relief. In that year, by the Peace of Altranstädt, Charles XII obtained the return of 120 Protestant churches in the indirectly governed principalities; moreover, six new "Grace" churches and to some other churches schools were to be attached. (...) The Pietist publicist, August Hermann Francke (...) got the most important of the "Grace" churches erected in Teschen in Upper Silesia. Here institutional Protestantism had gone to pieces, but there was thought to be a congregation of about 40,000 in the hills round about. For the Teschen project Francke recruited some of his ablest assistants. (...) The key figure was Johann Adam Steinmetz (1689-1762), a successful revivalist from Münsterberg, who assembled a very strong team, with assistants trained in Halle, for the Czech and Polish preaching. Circumstances pushed the Teschen Pietists into revivalism. German confessions began at six on a Sunday morning, and communions, confessions and preaching would go on all day, while the crowds arriving from a distance would spend their time in enthusiastic hymn-singing. And the Teschen staff were less like ordinary parish pastors than circuit riders, dividing up their duties by rota: one week devoted to public prayer meetings and ministerial duties, the second week travelling out to the sick, the third week rest, and the fourth riding out to support the travelling preachers. (...)

[WARD, William Reginad: Evangelical awakenings in the North Atlantic world. IN: The Cambridge History of Christianity. Enlightenment, reawakening and revolution. 1660-1815. Cambrigde University Press 2006, p. 335-336.]

 

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