Walter Rauschenbusch

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Walter Rauschenbusch was born on October 4, 1861 in Rochester, New York. Rauschenbusch was the son of a Lutheran missionary to German immigrants in the United States. He graduated from the Rochester Free Academy and then studied for four years in Germany, returning in 1883 to simultaneously finish at the University of Rochester and begin seminary training. On June 1, 1886, he was ordained a minister of the Second German Baptist Church in New York City, where he became aware of social problems from the personal distress he encountered in a depressed neighborhood and from the mayoral campaign by the economist Henry George. Even more influential were two young Baptist preachers, Leighton Williams and Nathaniel Schmidt. With Rauschenbusch they formed a Society of Jesus, later expanded into the Brotherhood of the Kingdom. Rauschenbusch turned to the idea of the Church as an institution for a temporal Kingdom of God to answer the problems of the working poor. He decided that to live in that context, Christians must work out social reform while awaiting Christ's return. He did not believe that complete perfection was attainable in the present world, but believed it to be a valid goal. In essence, the mission of the church was practical ministry, meeting the needs of the weak politically, spiritually, and physically. These clergy actively helped one another to secure public platforms for their message that they might expose to conditions of the working poor to society as a whole. For the Right, a monthly periodical "in the interests of the working people," was launched in November 1889 in an effort to reach the laboring classes and to aid in the formulation of a Christian socialist program. Publication ceased in March 1891 when Rauschenbusch left for a year of study in Germany and a visit to England, where he became interested in Fabian socialism. In 1897 he joined the faculty of Rochester Theological Seminary and in 1902 became professor of church history. Walter...
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