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Huntingdon Woman’s Club hear Theodorus Frelinghuysen’s life story

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August 17, 2022

The Huntingdon Woman’s Club met on August 17 at the Long Rock Church with Mrs. Doug Pruitt serving as hostess.  Mrs. Pruitt welcomed the ladies to historic surroundings that reflect the history of our program of “The Great Awakening”.  The ladies entered the church to floral table clothes that were centered with homemade church birdhouses made by her husband, Doug Pruitt. Mrs. Pruitt opened the meeting with a devotion and prayer and then all enjoyed homemade pepper jelly and cream cheese on crackers and tea cakes with nuts and candy.

President, Mrs. Billy Cary opened the business meeting. The roll was called and the minutes from August 3, 2022 were read and approved. 

To continue the program on “The Great Awakening”, Mrs. Pruitt spoke on the life of the Dutch Reformed ordained minister, Theodorus Frelinghuysen. Frelinghuysen was most remembered for his religious contributions as a powerful preacher during the Great Awakening. Originally from Germany, born in 1691, he came to America in September 1719 and became a part of the Dutch Reformed Church. He served as minister to several congregations in the Raritan River Valley of New Jersey which he served until his death in 1747. 

The Dutch farmers in the Valley looked forward to their new pastor, but soon realized Frelinghuysen was not like their ordinary pastors during his inaugural sermon on January 31, 1720. Frelinghuysen took this opportunity to preach his rigorous pietist preaching, which was a mix of biblical doctrine and an individual’s morality to live a good Christian life. He preached from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” Frelinghuysen made it clear to the crowd that he was going to take upon himself Christ’s role to guide them on the right path towards Christianity. Also, he preached that only God would save the ones who experienced conversion, encouraged sinners to join his church, and told many of his members that they were hell-bound. He upset many of the parishioners in the Raritan Valley. The Dutch farmers had little interest in pursuing their spiritual growth.

His preaching aimed to convince people of the need to examine their lives in order to make certain the validity of their salvation. His evangelistic preaching penetrated the raw frontier of early eighteenth-century life of New Jersey. He attempted to ingrain within the listener a deep conviction of sin. He classified his audiences into two basic categories: saved and unsaved. He was shocked by the deadness of the churches in America. He preached the need for conversion, a profound, life-changing commitment to Christ, not simply a participation in religious duties. 

Frelinghuysen wrote a series of sermons in 1733 that were published in Amsterdam in 1736. His sermons helped pave the way for future revivalists in the Middle Colonies. Although it may seem that many people were unhappy with him, he managed to convert hundreds of people and commit them to full membership in his church before his death in 1747 in New Jersey. In the end, the Great Awakening and Frelinghuysen caused a lot of problems that were heard all around the world. 

The next meeting will be held on August 31, 2022 with Ms. Charlotte Horn sharing about Jonathan Edwards, a Yale minister who refused to convert to the Church of England.

President – Mrs. Billy Cary

Secretary – Mrs. Glenn Tippitt

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