*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 8th of June 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.

Today marks the anniversary of the death of August Hermann Francke. He died on this, the 8th of June in 1727. His name is often attached to the town of Halle in Germany and to the “pietist” movement. If some of this rings a bell, keep listening. If it doesn’t, stick around just the same as this is a story you should know something about.

Francke life in outline:

  • Born 1663 in Lübeck- spent his whole life between Northern, North East, and East Germany.
  • Studied at Leipzig and graduated in 1685.
  • Founded the Collegium Philobiblicum- a pietist conventicle (think “small group”).
  • Spent time with Phillip Jakob Spener in Dresden.
  • This solidified his “Pietist” bonafide but also led to him being banned back at Leipzig and then at Erfurt.
  • 1692 ended up at Halle where a new University was being founded by the Elector of Brandenburg.
  • His work as a professor at Halle, but also as the founder of a number of institutions would put Halle at the nexus of theology, education, and charity work.
  • By 1698 100 Orphans cared for and educated along with 500 regular students.

Known for:

  • A Printing Press
    “Master” lead plates for printing cheap versions of the whole Bible
  • A School for Natural Sciences and Medicine
    Medical texts accounted for a good deal of the revenue needed for the institutions
  • Vocational training for practical jobs
  • Teacher training for those who would want to be teachers
  • A Center for World Missions- (India, Africa, Americas, and Europe)

Criticism? Pietism was too Lutheran for most and for the Lutherans, not Lutheran enough.

Francke could argue that everything he did had a precedent in Luther. But he created rival centers of influence and authority that took away from the established Lutheran church and their influential political allies.


The town center of Halle is remarkably intact today despite the ravages of war and the economic stress of East Germany in the 1980s. And despite the vicissitudes of Lutheran theology and praxis, both Halle and Wittenberg (a center of Lutheran orthodoxy) came together and formed the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.

Traveling between the two campuses there are two names that tower of the rest: Martin Luther, and the man we remember today- August Hermann Francke- on the anniversary of his death OTD in 1727.

The last word for today comes from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, the 36th chapter:

25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 8th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.

The show is produced by a man whose favorite “Augusts” include Francke, the playwright Wilson, and The Counting Crows’ “and Everything After.” He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who reminds you that the reading from Ezekiel in Pulp Fiction is not, in fact, from the book of Ezekiel. I am 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.