Justus Falckner

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Justus Falckner (November 22, 1672, Crimmitschau–1723) was a Lutheran minister and the first Lutheran pastor to be ordained within the United States. He is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on November 24 together with Jehu Jones and William Passavant.



Falckner was the fourth son of Daniel Falckner, a Lutheran pastor at Langenreinsdorf, a subdivision of Crimmitschau in Saxony. In 1693, he entered the University of Halle, where he studied theology under August Hermann Francke.[2] He completed his studies, but determined that he was not truly prepared to follow a career in the ministry. He went to Rotterdam, where he and his brother Daniel accepted power of attorney to sell the land of William Penn in Pennsylvania.[3]


In 1701, 10,000 acres (40 km²) of land along the Manatawny Creek were sold to Swedish Lutheran Pastor Andreas Rudman and other Swedish settlers. After working with Pastor Rudman, Falckner reconsidered entering the ministry. He was ordained on November 24, 1703 at Gloria Dei Church, the Swedish Lutheran Church in Wicaco, today South Philadelphia. His first pastoral assignment was with the settlers on the Manatawny Creek in New Hanover Township, Pennsylvania. On February 23, 1704, King Carl XII of Sweden, issued an order formally confirming Andreas Rudman as Superintendent of the Swedish Lutheran Church in America. Shortly thereafter, Falckner was reassigned by Rudman to serve as the pastor of Lutheran congregations in New York and Albany. Falckner succeeded Joshua Kocherthal in ministry to German Lutheran immigrants.[4] In 1714, Falckner led worshippers at the founding of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldwick, New Jersey's oldest Lutheran congregation.[5][6]

Falckner evidently believed that music was a very important element of missionary work. He wrote to Germany to ask for an organ, which he said would attract more Native American converts. Falckner wrote hymns such as "Rise, Ye Children of Salvation" (German: Auf! ihr Christen, Christi Glieder) which he composed while a student at the University of Halle in 1697. Falckner's published works include Grondlycke Onderricht which first appeared in New York during 1708.[7]


  1. ^ Justus Falckner Ordination Tercentenary (The Swedish Colonial Society) http://www.colonialswedes.org/headlines/Falckner.html
  2. ^ Bente, F. American Lutheranism, Volume I St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 1919, 25.
  3. ^ Biography at the Cyber Hymnal http://hymntime.com/tch/bio/f/a/falckner_j.htm
  4. ^ Bente, F. American Lutheranism, Volume I St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 1919, p. 32.
  5. ^ Tercentenary of Justus Falckner’s Ordination Celebrated at Philadelphia Cathedral (by Alfred J. Nicolosi, Swedish Colonial News. Page 6. Fall 2003) http://www.colonialswedes.org/images/Publications/SCNewsFall2003.pdf
  6. ^ Zion Lutheran Church History (Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldwick). http://www.zionoldwick.com/history.html
  7. ^ Justus Falckner (Cyber Hymnal) http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/f/a/falckner_j.htm

Other sources[edit]

  • Williams, Kim-Eric The Journey of Justus Falckner. 1672-1723. (Delhi, New York: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. 2003)
  • Sachse, Julius Friedrich. Justis Falckner, Mystic and Scholar, Devout Pietist in Germany. (Philadelphia: Printed for the author. 1903)

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