Twenty-Second Annual Report of the German Free Congregation of Philadelphia: Pages 7 - 11

Annual Report

of the Chairman of the German Free Congregation of Philadelphia


         Congregation Members and Friends!

For the second time I present an annual report to the congregation in order to give you an overview of its affairs. If I have not personally been involved in all operations of the congregation, please know that I have offered my advice to the best of my ability within the time I was alloted and I believe I can report significant progress in many arenas thanks to the administrative work of our trusted officers. It is often very difficult to fill all the positions on the congregation's administrative council and for this reason I urgently ask the congregation members to accept any elective position offered and to actively participate in the administration of the congregation's affairs.

Next I wish to direct your attention to the detailed annual financial report by our bookkeeper, Mr. J. Will. In my last message I recommended that bookkeeping for all expenditures of the various administrative departments be transferred to one individual. The idea was considered so sound that you not only accepted it and enacted it into the by-laws but also adopted this system for the appointment of one individual to fill the office of treasurer.

On March 1, 1874 the membership tallied 280 individuals plus 8 life-long members and 27 women. During the year 103 members were stricken from the roster and 65 new members were added.

With regard to the spiritual life of the congregation, I hope that in the coming year there will be more structure and regularity than before. I recommend the committee arrange for discussion sessions on Sundays when there are no lectures scheduled. I also request that the congregation members regularly attend them and support them. I believe the spiritual vitality of the congregation will grow through love and participation.

In the previous year the following lectures have been held at the Sunday assemblies:

Conducted by our in-house speaker, Mr. J. Schütz:
    1. Equal rights, a mandate of world history.
    2. The obligation of truth.
    3. Does a free man need faith?
    4. Blood — a scientific observation.
    5. Awakening nature and its significance for the human spirit.
    6. The Thirty Years War, an admonishing historical image.

    7. The old and new faith of D.F. Strauss, or, we're not yet finished with Bible critique, science and atheism.
    8. What D. Strauss and the so-called free thinkers say about the Free Congregations.
    9. The basis of morality, or, there are no more voices from Sinai and Golgotha, so who will give us laws now?
   10. The social question and Ferdinand LaSalle's Bastiat-Schulze.
   11. Can and should a man of today's high erudition say that he has religion?
   12. The famous nature researcher Agassiz' reasons for opposing Darwinism and supporting the notion of a conscious God.
   13. The defense of evolutionary theory in opposition to the nature researcher Agassiz.
   14. The representation of the highest form of being throughout history and today.
   15. Alexander von Humboldt and his life's work - on the occasion of his 105th birthday.
   16. Life and the significance of family.
   17. Death and immortality.
   18. Christian and human love.
   19. Report on my speaking tour.
   20. Hindsight and 360° perspective.
   21. Looking back and departure.

Conducted by Mr. Schünemann-Pott: 1.) Looking back; 2.) California's land and people.

Conducted by Prof. P. Frazer: The crystallization power.

Conducted by Dr. W.H. Wahl: Towards a history of the earth's development.

Conducted by Dr. Castle: The unity of forces.

Conducted by Dr. Limpert: Air and life.

Conducted by Dr. E. Querner: The nebulae.

Conducted by Dr. L. Büchner: 1.) Brain and soul; 2.) History and the meaning of Materialism.

Conducted by Mr. A. Loos: 1.)The Evangelical Alliance; 2.) The historical basis for belief in resurrection.

Conducted by Dr. Bartells: 1. On the development of language; 2.) The birth of Christ from a historical perspective; 3.) The unconscious in history.

Conducted by Mr. C.F. Huch: The primal history of our ancestors.

Conducted by Mr. F. Bielefeld: 1.) Towards a history of time measurement; 2.) Towards a history of dramatic art.

The men, who have contributed to the advancement of the spiritual life of the congregation by their lectures, deserve our thanks. Concerning our last speaker, Mr. F. Schütz, you should know that he has been appointed second speaker in Milwaukee. I can only wish him my heartiest hope for success in his new field of endeavor. This leaves a vacancy in our speaker roster. I recommend we leave the post unfilled for the present in order to see if the wish of many members to do away with the post turns out to be a good decision for the congregation. Mr. Alexander Loos has been appointed by the administrative board to act as occasional speaker at weddings and to conduct the civilian register for the congregation.

It should also be mentioned here that it was a happy occasion for our congregation members when our former speaker, Mr. Schünemann-Pott, returned to our midst for a while not just to deliver his lectures but also through social discourse to awaken old memories concerning communal life and endeavor. We were also pleased when our old friend and former president of many years, Mr. Ed. Herrlein returned for a visit . Even from his new place of residence he has continued to work towards the goals of the congregation.

We have only the best news to report concerning our school. Raising the tuition and dividing it by ten months instead of twelve months has been fiscally beneficial. In the past year a new instructional subject, gymnastics for boys and girls, has been added to the curriculum which has added to the physical strength of our students. Additionally an evening gymnastics class has been introduced for the summer months and we anticipate a heavy turnout for this year. I am especially pleased to mention the untiring efforts of Messers Schröder and Gräser as gymnastics instructors. In the past year their classes have been invaluable and they have earned the gratitude of the congregation. Concerning course work and the administration of the school, the school board plans further improvements and to this end has appointed a committee in order to find best ways and means to accomplish this. Reports will be forthcoming.

The primer written by Mr. Schünemann-Pott and published by the congregation is already in its fifth edition, with total sales of 3521 copies and yielding a net profit of $210.69. A new edition must soon be put in the works because there are no more copies on hand. I recommend the new administration keep this in mind.

This year the library was expanded thanks chiefly to the untiring efforts of the committee appointed to that project. The introductory report follows this report.

The Relief Society currently has 70 members and assets of $805.64. In the past year $375.81 was received in income and $142.43 was expended, thus giving a surplus of $233.38.

In my last report under the section "Onward with the Building and Savings Association" I introduced this new association. It has been in existence now for a year and a large portion of our congregation members have joined it. It begins its second year with the task of creating a new series of regulations, which should facilitate enrolment.

It gives me particular pleasure to anounce to you that we have succeeded in establishing a singing society for men's choir and mixed choir, and as you will see in the newly printed constitution, a "Choral Society of the German Free Congregation." Just about everyone who has listened to the group can attest to its talent and the ability of its director, Mr. Gallasch, promises great things in the future. You will all have the opportunity to see what the choral society can accomplish in a social setting at the masked ball, which will be held March 2nd of this year.

The hall will seldom be as filled as it will be that evening.

Here we should also mention our Sunday evening entertainments, which have received greatly increased attendance in the past year. For this we have to thank the participating artists. We should try to have as many of these events as possible because they bring our members together for light and social discourse after the many serious issues of life and bind them firmly to the congregation. To bring new life to the congregation and attract students from our school and the free Sunday school of the Workers' League, over the past year Mr. Carl Borm has undertaken the task of establishing a music school at his own expense. The instructor, music director Heinemann, has achieved great things thus far through his capable teaching and members have had the opportunity to hear both classes at various concerts held during scheduled lectures. We shall continue to expose our children to all fields of science and the arts. This can have only the best influence on their development and turn them into free human beings. For this reason I recommend you charge the school board with the task of determining whether or not is would be advisable and possible to add musical instruction to the school's curriculum.

As we have often done in the past, last year a school festival was held jointly with the Sunday School of the Workers' League on June 16th. At this last festival the League celebrated the 15th anniversary of its school's founding. Quite rightly it demonstrated that both institutions are basically identical. May the harmony and unity of these two bodies remain forever sound.

On July 22nd we made a trip to Atlantic city with our friends of the Harmony Singing Society. In September another trip was made to Egg Harbor City for the wine harvest festival. All participants will look back on those events fondly.

As you all know there will be a presentation of "Snow White" to benefit the Building Fund and the Sunday School. It promises to be a happy occasion.

In addition to the death of Feuerbach in the previous year I also have the unfortunate duty of reporting the death of the famous author of the Life of Jesus, D.F. Strauss, this year. His word did much to disperse the darkness of the old faith and bring dawning light for a new and better world view. — Our congregation was also robbed by Death of one of its brave members and true German gentlemen, Mr. F. Fleischmann.

And so I close my annual report, calling to you, my friends, let us proceed with courage! The past year has shown us anew that there is true life force within the congregation. Let us advance on the chosen path. Our goal is recognition of the truth and the ennoblement of mankind. The future is ours!

Philadelphia, March 8, 1874.
                                                                                                W. Holdmann.

Annual Report of the Library Committee

March 1874


As the current Library Committee began its term June of last year, it found that the library was in disorder and many volumes were missing. Upon investigation it was revealed that during the past few years the library had dwindled rather than expanded. The number of volumes had decreased because many worthwhile books had disappeared. The library opened on June 10, 1856 with 64 volumes; by March 1858 the collection had 147 volumes but almost 17 years later there are scarcely more than 150 books. The Library Committee believed that the library should serve to nurture and support the congregation as a supplement to and in some cases a replacement for the lectures presented and it should be a rich source of instruction and support for the congregation members. Since it is convinced that the library should be a resource to bind people to the congregation and attract new members, the Committee has made certain requests, which have been enacted into the by-laws, so that each fiscal quarter it will receive at least $25.

The next task the Library Committee assigned itself was the drafting of rules for the use of the library, which required the approval of the administration. A book catalog was needed along with a shelving list, which ordered the books according to their content. Books from the Workers' League Sunday School would be included. 313 volumes were found at first but by September the number rose to 326 with some volumes rediscovered. 168 of these belonged to the Sunday School, which meant that only 158 belonged to the congregation. On January 1st when the library catalog was printed along with the congregation's regulations the number of volumes increased to 217 and by March 1st the number grew to 232, which with the Sunday School books brought the total to 400. During the past 3 quarters of a year another 74 volumes have been added partly through gifts including a generous bequeath by Mrs. Hotz and donations by Messers Tschirch, Zipperlen and Huch. Others have been purchased. Among the purchased books are the works of Büchner, Uhlich and Spielhagen as well as Steiger's German-American House Library. In total $48.62 was paid for books and $32.75 for binding, etc., bringing the total to $81.37 in expenditures.

After the book catalog was placed in the hands of the congregation there was renewed interest in the library and with the addition of many new and interesting works it is hoped that interest will increase even more. In this way the library can achieve its true goal and the money expended will bear fruit. From June 1st to September 1st 28 volumes were lent to 7 people; from September 1st to December 1st 40 volumes were lent to 15 people and from December 1st to March 1st 85 volumes were lent to 30 people, yielding usage figures of 153 volumes to 33 people over the past 9 months.

Go to Pages 12 - 16

Microfilm copy of text provided by the State University of New York at Buffalo from the series Immigrants in America, E184.A1 I435 reel 156 item 71.
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks