Christian Dietrich (clergyman)

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Christian Dietrich (born April 8, 1844 in Gschwend near Gaildorf , † February 22, 1919 in Stuttgart ) was the head of Swabian Alto Pietism from 1897 to 1919 .

As a teacher and rector, Dietrich was engaged in a variety of ways in addition to his profession through association work (Association of Protestant Teachers) and publications (Philadelphiablatt) as well as extensive personal relationships.


When he was eight, Christian Dietrich moved to live with his uncle, who was a teacher in Hornberg an der Jagst. At the age of 18 Dietrich became a disciple of Jesus with clear determination and full devotion .

From 1865 he worked as a teacher in the Hayersche private elementary school in Stuttgart. In the same year he founded the “Association of Christian Teaching Assistants” (called “Association of Protestant Teachers in Württemberg” from 1870).

From 1897 Dietrich was chairman of the Württemberg Association of Old Pietist Communities and from 1905 he headed the Stuttgart Community. From 1890 he was managing director of the "German Committee for Evangelical Community Care" (expanded in 1894 to the "German Committee for Community Care and Evangelism" and reorganization in 1900 to the "German Philadelphia Association").

With his wife Lydia (née Irion) he had twelve children (4 sons and 8 daughters). Although the eldest daughter Amalie reports: "Often it was almost impossible for him to gain time and energy for all his duties and tasks", he still seems to have carefully looked after his family.

"Rector Dietrich was a friend of the external mission , although his main task was not on the Heiden mission field, but at home", said Mission Director Dipper of the Basel Mission when Christian Dietrich died in Stuttgart in 1919.
The history of the impact of Christian Dietrich's life is essentially clear in his work as a teacher (initially a teacher, then from 1896 to 1917 rector at the Evangelical Daughter Institute), as chairman of the Württemberg Association of Old Pietist Communities, as editor of the Philadelphiablattes (1891-1919), as well as in the family and as a leader of the Stuttgart community.

Church faith and commitment

Basic concerns about the mission

For Christian Dietrich, the primary concern was community care . The fellowship under the Word of God was supplemented by mutual motivation for sanctification and oriented towards the longing expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ .

As a prerequisite, Dietrich noted the passing on of the good news to the world of peoples according to Mt. So urgent task because of the premonition that this end time is not far away. "So the mission was not an 'open question' for him, but a matter of course and a task of the servants who are waiting for the master," explains Director Dipper.

For Dietrich, love and commitment to the mission meant above all the closeness to "the mission whose fathers were Wuerttemberg community men, and whose missionaries a large part came from Wuerttemberg communities: the Basel Mission ".

This promotion of missionary work has also shown itself to be fruitful in the context of Dietrich's community work, so that it is reported: "The young men from the (old Pietist) communities often report to the missionary service, the virgins to the deaconess service"

Commitment and encounters for the mission

In this way, he comprehensively opened up the contacts of the Basel Mission to the Württemberg communities.

In his interpretations of the Scriptures, Dietrich brought the mission closer to his own people as well as to other peoples.

The Dietrichs house in Rotebühlstrasse was particularly hospitable together with the other relatives Zimmermann and Irion.

For Dietrich, there were many encounters with missionaries, for example Frederick Franson , co-founder of the China Alliance Mission (today Allianz Mission ), was also a guest of Rector Christian Dietrich in the old Pietist community when he was in Stuttgart at Alliance meetings in the episcopal - Methodist Church in which Wesleyan (see also Methodist and Wesleyan Churches ) and the Evangelical Community preached.

In the years from 1885 onwards there were regular meetings with "evangelists" in Stuttgart, for example in 1885 and 1887 Otto Stockmayer, 1887 Elias Schrenk , from then on usually every two years, 1888 Dr. Bädekeer, also Rappard, Hudson Taylor, 1890 Georg Müller. Dietrich was a sponsor of these events; Here gifts for the mission were collected (seaman's mission, Belgian mission church, Graz, Vienna etc.)

Church questions of the present

In 1887 Christian Dietrich wrote a work that caused quite a stir within church circles with the title “Church Questions of the Present” (105 pages). In it he describes the main need of the church: the spiritual death of many of its members.

At the same time, Dietrich emphasized the importance of avoiding anything that could support separatist tendencies in order to better address the current needs of the regional churches.

In the Scriptures, Dierich advocates "Extraordinary Assemblies" designed to "rouse the masses of dead and indifferent church members from their slumber". As an example of targeted missionary work, he cites the system of Catholic mission within the Church. Dietrich describes it as shameful for Protestantism that the system of "inner mission" was narrowed to an organization for the distribution of "alms" instead of people "to a living faith in the Lord Jesus and a certain hope of eternal life " respectively.

The writing is still (again) up-to-date for the reader of our time, especially where Dietrich addresses the plight of the national church situation.

During this time, too, sharp disputes were waged within the "awakening" camp. The paper of the alliance wrote in 1909, especially with regard to the concerns of critical loyalty to the church (= Dietrich), who did not change camp to the “Methodist” side: “The soul of the old Pietist direction is a well-known, buttoned-up, extremely conservative Himmelreichsbremßer, whose narrow-mindedness borders on recklessness and hurtful harshness. This man imprinted and maintained his little horizon all along the way. And despite the kindest and most brotherly attempts to change his position, the man does not deviate from his one-sidedness by a hair's breadth. In spite of all its damage, the regional church is to him the God-willed church, which he seeks to support and protect with old Pietism. "

Dietrich replied in writing, especially with an explanation, that due to his many tasks within his profession, community work within the regional church and other voluntary tasks, he could not speak at Allianz meetings or "do tent missions". He suggests that the two camps should do their respective service side by side as brothers, and "help and comfort one another and look forward to the time when one flock will be under the one shepherd Jesus"

Gnadau and support for the formation of communities in Saxony, Bavaria, Austria

Dietrich's concern was the formation of community get-togethers in Württemberg . This fundamentally internal church position was shared in the same way by the co-initiators of the first Gnadau Whitsun Conference in 1888. These were in particular Elias Schrenk, Jasper von Oertzen , Count Pückler and Christian Dietrich. In the beginning of mutual relations after these meetings in Gnadau, Dierich became the first managing director of the "German Committee for Community Care" (and evangelism - from 1894) founded in 1890.

From 1892 Dietrich was called to hold joint conferences in the Kingdom of Saxony . He significantly supported the work of the formation of the Brothers Council for regional church community care in 1899 and afterwards often used the holidays to travel there. Dietrich also expanded the work of the Philadelphia plant to Austria and supported the formation of communities, especially in Graz .

Community care and mission

Various community courses were held under Dietrich's leadership, including in January 1914 in Stuttgart. The presentations are published under the title “Heilsweg und Reichsplan. A Handout for Bible Students ”. In addition to other lectures, among others by Dietrich “The future hope of the Christ Church”, a third of the presentations are devoted to topics of mission, including “Is our Indian mission moving forward” or “How do mission and community fertilize each other”. The Christian recreation home Schönblick (inaugurated on July 2, 1916) as a joint task between the Basel Mission and the Old Pietist Community was co-founded by Dietrich, the development work primarily by Friedrich Braun, who had previously headed the Basel Mission in India for twelve years .


  • Church questions of the present - a lay word. Röttger, Kassel 1887
  • From the growth of the inner life. Five post-written lectures. Commission publisher of the bookstore of the German Philadelphiavereins, Stuttgart 1913
  • Salvation path and imperial plan. A handout for Bible readers. Lectures of the joint course January 12-24, 1914 in Stuttgart. Publishing house of the bookstore of the German Philadelphia Association, Stuttgart 1914


  • Funeral oration and speeches in memory of Christian Dietrich. Philadelphia Association, Stuttgart 1919
  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzDietrich, Christian. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 1300-1301.
  • Hans Dieter Haller: Christian Dietrich (1844 to 1919) . In: Pegasus in the country - writers in Hohenlohe , Baier-Verlag 2006, pp. 124–129.
  • Friedrich Martin Jehle : Christian Dietrich , in: Karl Weller (Hrsg.): Württembergischer Nekrolog for the years 1918 and 1919 . Stuttgart: Kolhhammer 1922.
  • Ernst Modersohn : People I was blessed by. R.Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1963, pp. 165-169.
  • Hans von Sauberzweig : Rector Dietrich in: He the master we the brothers . Gnadauer Verlag, Offenbach 1959, pp. 113-122.
  • Gotthold Schmid: From strength to strength: Rector Dietrich's life and work. Publishing house of the bookstore of the German Philadelphia Association, Stuttgart 1919

Web links


  1. Address by Mission Director Dipper of the Basel Mission at the funeral of D .; published: funeral speech and speeches in memory of Christian Dietrich. Stuttgart: Philadelphia Association, 1919, p. 16
  2. Address by Mission Director Dipper of the Basel Mission at the funeral of D .; published: funeral speech and speeches in memory of Christian Dietrich. Stuttgart: Philadelphia Association, 1919, p. 17
  3. Brockes, Dietrich. The private building communities within the Protestant churches Dtld.s, 1903, p. 235.
  4. This is not necessarily typical for community work in Württemberg - the Hahn community is reported: “But it seldom happens that young people from the Hahn communities themselves go into the service of the internal or external mission. They prefer to keep them in the community, believe they are better kept there and would like to use their services later within the community. "
  5. Franson's style was sometimes very controversial.
  6. ^ Christian Dietrich: Church questions of the present. Röttger, Kassel 1887.
  7. 6–15 days in a parish invited by the surrounding parishes i. d. R. 3 lectures daily on the fundamentals of faith, given by clergymen from abroad. (Similar initiatives are still being carried out today, as I have just observed in my former home in Upper Swabia)
  8. ^ Christian Dietrich: Church questions of the present. Röttger, Kassel 1887, p. 60.
  9. ^ Christian Dietrich: Church questions of the present. Röttger, Kassel 1887, p. 96.
  10. ^ Christian Dietrich: Church questions of the present. Röttger, Kassel 1887, p. 96 and 150.
  11. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart A 10/4370
  12. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Old Pietist Community Association Stuttgart, D9
  13. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Old Pietist Community Association in Stuttgart, C7
  14. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart F9 / 63
  15. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart A7 5996
  16. ^ Proof of location: Library of the Oberkirchenrat Stuttgart 2311