Friday, June 7, 2024

Today, on the Christian History Almanac, we remember the “Foreign Protestants” in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

It is the 7th of June 2024. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac, brought to you by 1517 at; I’m Dan van Voorhis.


This show is usually biographical- we look at a particular person and their place in church history. Sometimes we look at a group of people, and occasionally and idea how it has affected the church. Today is a little different in that we are looking at a town- a town founded by and for Foreign Protestants in Nova Scotia, Canada on this the 7th of June in 1753.

To understand the significance of yet another group of settlers to the new world in the 18th century we have to understand two important ideas and events.

The first is the undeniable fact that the story of the past 300 years is vastly different if the story of the New World was not British. At the start of the Early Modern Era, it would have been unthinkable that the Spanish and Portuguese empires, ruled by the likes of the Habsburg family and having been ceded the land by the pope in 1493.

The new world should have been Spanish and catholic- until it wasn’t. And this is in large part due to a series of wars in the 1700s over the succession of various European crowns either into or out of Habsburg hands- from the War of Spanish Succession to the War of Austrian Succession. Ultimately, the powers that were in Europe decided to consolidate their place in Europe by ceding land to their adversaries in North America.

Once such place was the island first settled by Europeans in 1497- the place John Cabot found and called “New Scotland” or “Nova Scotia”. But by the 1600s the land had been taken by the French and settled the “Acadians”. These were French Catholics (some of whom would make their way to the Bayou and become known as Cajuns).

For the British Protestants settling what is today Eastern Canada a group of French Catholics would be suspect. Thus, the crown would initially begin the “Expulsion of the Acadians.” But who would fill the void? Most of the British who were interested in the colonies had already moved across the Atlantic. There was a word of overcrowding and bad land, and the exodus to the Americas slowed down.

But there was a new alliance in Europe- the English crown, held by Tudors and Stuarts for so long had been transferred to the German house of Hannover. The Scots in line for the crown had been Catholic and so parliament arranged the crown to go to the closest Protestant in line. This was George I of Hanover, his mother being Sophia, the granddaughter of King James I.

The English crown arranged for men to scour the banks of the Rhine for Protestants willing to move to Nova Scotia to displace the fleeing Acadians. The only stipulation was that you couldn’t be Catholic. If you could not afford the trip, you could become a Redemptioner- a kind of indentured servant to the British crown. It was on this, the 7th of June, that some 1400 settlers arrived at the port of Merliguesch south of Halifax on Nova Scotia. They would rename the town “Lunenberg” after the German Duke of Lüneberg, who had recently come to the British crown as George II.

Lunenberg is home to two historic churches: St. John’s Anglican Church and Zion Lutheran Church- the oldest active Lutheran church in Canada. The majority of German “Protestant Settlers” of Lunenberg were skilled craftsmen who developed the town to become one of the major fisheries in Canada. There was also, with the opportunity given to them by the British Crown, a loyalty to the crown in the ensuing years and Nova Scotia in general, and Lunenberg in particular would become a home of British Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. While the conflict with the Americans to the South was real- it was a kind of “protestant” and “inter-English speaking” affair that did not risk intrusion from Catholic powers (yes, France was super helpful to the colonies, but by proxy).

And so, happy birthday to a town settled for the British by German Protestants- Lunenberg Nova Scotia (note that Lunenberg is an unnecessary English translation of Luneberg) - today a Unesco World site and today 271 years since its inception from a band of Foreign Protestants on this day in 1753.


 The last word for today is from the daily lectionary and 2 Corinthians 5: 

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.


This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 7th of June 2024, brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by a man, whose current state of Wisconsin should really have a plan with Canada to take back that Upper Peninsula Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man forever obsessed with that Upper Peninsula- you Youppers really got away with something- I’m Dan van Voorhis. 

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.

Subscribe to the Christian History Almanac

Subscribe to the Christian History Almanac

Subscribe (it’s free!) in your favorite podcast app.

More From 1517