Martin Luther’s great, great, great…grandson

15 07 2013

A Luther family reunion is a rare event; this year one will take place on August 3rd. It may be the last one in my lifetime. Because of its importance, old pictures are being shared, stories are being retold, and genealogies are being studied. Unlike the only Luther reunion that I could remember, we now have the support of Ancestry.com. My brother and cousin have been diligent in their investigation of our roots.

The discovery was made that our kin hailed from the German nation in the providence renown for its mercenary help of the British Army during the American Revolutionary War. Conrad Luther was a teen when he came to America in the middle 1700’s to fight rebels led by a man named George Washington. He was a Hessian soldier. Instead of facing the horrors of war against a people with whom he had no quarrel, he melted into the state of Pennsylvania. He settled in Cambria County near Altoona and the Luther clan lived there until my Grandfather moved to Ohio in the late 1940’s. I was born in 1954.

Tracing Conrad’s family tree in Germany brought us to Martin Luther the Reformer of the middle 1400’s. We discovered that my generation is the 13th generation from Martin Luther. I know that this information is worth only a few minutes of discussion in a coffee shop, but it causes much reflection on my part. Most of my family is still Roman Catholic dating back to…well, as far as anyone can remember. I am one of the few who had the privilege of attending a Catholic High School and was accepted into a Catholic seminary to study for the priesthood (my last name has always raised eyebrows among many of the clergy). I just had to serve 4 years as a sailor and I was in, smooth sailing. My dad had already promised to buy my first chalice and even found a book that laid out the choices for my selection.

In 1974 I trusted Christ as my Savior by grace alone and not by works. I remained in the Roman Catholic church for two years after that, fully intending to be an inside reformer and introduce more Scripture into CCD (Catholic “Sunday School”) and more of the gospel into the mass. I discussed my vision with some Catholic priests and the decision was split, some encouraged me and some thought it heretical. I finally left the Catholic Church in 1976 and within a year, surrendered my life as a full-time minister of the gospel. I have been a Baptist pastor for 30 years.

It’s odd how history repeats itself.

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