July 13: Conrad Weiser, Witness to Peace and Reconciliation, 1760
July 13, 2010 26 Comments
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Conrad Weiser was an eighteenth century American diplomat who
worked for peace and reconciliation between the European settlers and
the native peoples of Pennsylvania. Of Lutheran descent, he was the
father-in-law of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (October 7).
Born in Germany in 1696, he immigrated to the United States as a
child. At 17, Weiser went to live among the Mohawks in New York
in order to learn their language and culture. He later made his way to
southeastern Pennsylvania where he learned customs and language of
Weiser eventually settled in the area that is now Reading,
Pennsylvania. He designed the layout of the city of Reading, is
numbered among the founders of Berks County, and served a long
tenure as the local judge. Like many people of his time, he had to
work at a variety of occupations in order to care for his family:
farmer, tanner, merchant, and real estate speculator. For a time Weiser
was enamored with the Seventh Day Baptist movement and took up
residence at Ephrata Cloister.
His knowledge of the Iroquois language and his natural diplomatic
gifts made him invaluable during the years of the settlement. He
negotiated land deeds and other treaties not only between Native
Americans and European settlers, he also did diplomatic work
between the various tribes of Native Americans and was often, but
not always, successful in keeping the peace among them. He advised
William Penn and Benjamin Franklin on matters related to Native
Americans and played an important role in keeping the Iroquois
sympathetic to the British cause during the French and Indian Wars.
At the time of Weiser’s death, an Iroquois leader was heard to remark,
“We are at a great loss and sit in darkness…as since his death we
cannot so well understand one another.”
I Almighty God, of thy grace thou didst endue Conrad
Weiser with the gift of diplomacy, the insight to
understand two different cultures and interpret each to the
other with clarity and honesty: As we strive to be faithful
to our vocation to commend thy kingdom, help us to
proclaim the Gospel to the many cultures around us, that
by thy Holy Spirit we may be effective ambassadors for
our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the same Holy
Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.
I Almighty God, of your grace you gave Conrad Weiser the
gift of diplomacy, the insight to understand two different
cultures and interpret each to the other with clarity and
honesty: As we strive to be faithful to our vocation to
commend your kingdom, help us to proclaim the Gospel
to the many cultures around us, that by your Holy Spirit
we may be effective ambassadors for our Savior Jesus
Christ; who with you and the same Holy Spirit lives and
reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 5:16–20
Preface of the Epiphany
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
Conrad Weiser-Related Links
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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