A Question of Loyalty German Churches in Reading During the First World War

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Karen Guenther


abstract: In Reading, churches formed during the colonial period gradually transitioned to using the English language in worship services, while new congregations were established to serve the religious needs of the newer German immigrants. St. John’s German Lutheran Church, St. Paul’s United Evangelical Church, and Zion’s German Reformed Church all held German language services when the First World War began, but by the end of the war, the use of the German language in worship services and parochial education led to questions about patriotism. At the same time, institutions with German names came under attack, and prominent industrialists who were German immigrants and members of these congregations were suspected of disloyalty. This article explores the impact of the First World War on Reading’s German churches and their members, particularly examining questions of patriotism and military service.

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