Tricentennial Celebration of the German Reformed Church in America 1725 - 2025

Honorary Host Committee:

The Mount Rushmore Society | Sons of the American Revolution: North Central District | White Rose International | Daughters of the American Revolution – Black Hills Chapter

2025 marks the 300th anniversary of the German Reformed Church in America.

To celebrate this historic Tricentennial, the church (now known as the Reformed Church in the United States), is hosting a celebration at Mount Rushmore, which features two iconic Americans associated with the church’s history – George Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt.​

Tricentennial Celebration of the German Reformed Church in America 1725 - 2025

Honorary Host Committee:

The Mount Rushmore Society | Sons of the American Revolution: North Central District  
White Rose International | Daughters of the American Revolution – Black Hills Chapter

Tricentennial Celebration of the German Reformed Church in America 1725 - 2025

Honorary Host Committee:

The Mount Rushmore Society | Sons of the American Revolution: North Central District | White Rose International | Daughters of the American Revolution – Black Hills Chapter

2025 marks the 300th anniversary of the German Reformed Church in America.

To celebrate this historic Tricentennial, the church (now known as the Reformed Church in the United States), is hosting a celebration at Mount Rushmore, which features two iconic Americans associated with the church’s history – George Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt.​

2025 marks the 300th anniversary of the German Reformed Church in America.

To celebrate this historic Tricentennial, the church (now known as the Reformed Church in the United States), is hosting a celebration at Mount Rushmore, which features two iconic Americans associated with the church’s history – George Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt.​

South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem

In addition to the “main event” at Mt. Rushmore, we will also bring you news of local celebrations, commemorations, and festivals occurring around the country. Philatelic collectors will be pleased to note that there will once again be a Mt. Rushmore pictorial postmark stamped “Mt. Rushmore Station.”  The pictorial postmark will be available June 12, 2025, and for 30 days thereafter.

On this site, you will also meet some of the famous sons and daughters of the church, and read their stories, including:

  • Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the man who drilled a group of farmers and tradesmen into a Continental Army that defeated the British redcoats.
  • Captain Peter Humrickhouse, who crossed the Delaware and wintered with General Washington at Valley Forge, and would deliver the ammunition that saved Yorktown.
  • The church members who saved the Liberty Bell.
  • Peter Zenger, the fiery imprisoned newspaper editor (and publisher of Reformed sermons and pamphlets), who was defended in court by Andrew Hamilton, and became the father of the freedom of the press.
  • Anna Catharina Zenger, Peter’s widow, who carried on the fight for liberty as America’s first female newspaper editor
  • President George Washington’s heartfelt letter to the German Reformed pastors and elders who stood for liberty.
  • Gov. Joseph Hiester, the future governor, who survived imprisonment aboard the British death ships in the infamous Wallabout Bay.
  • Continental Army Chaplain John Daniel Gros, who penned the first volume of moral philosophy in America.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt, who walked from the White House to Grace Reformed Church every Sunday, and who personally laid the cornerstone for the new building.

The Liberty Bell

As the wounded Colonial soldiers were brought to the Zion Reformed Church, now a temporary field hospital, few could know that beneath the floorboards rested one of the young nation’s most famous symbols. Following is the fascinating story of how the American patriots saved the Liberty Bell from capture by the British, told by a descendant of the man whose courage made it possible.

George Washington

George Washington’s association with the German Reformed Church in America began with the early enlistment of Pennsylvania Germans, including Peter Humrickhouse, who volunteered to serve in the Continental Army on May 6, 1776.

Baron Von Steuben

Baron von Steuben, the man who drilled a group of farmers and tradesmen into a Continental Army that defeated the British redcoats.

Testimony of Captain Peter Humrickhouse

 

Captain Peter Humrickhouse, who crossed the Delaware and wintered with General Washington at Valley Forge, and would deliver the ammunition that saved Yorktown.

John Peter Zenger

Peter Zenger, the fiery newspaper editor who, defended in court by Andrew Hamilton, became the father of the freedom of the press.

Anna Catharina Zenger

Catharina Maul Zenger, Peter’s widow, who carried on the fight for liberty as America’s first flame newspaper editor.

Gov. Joseph Hiester

Known as “Old German Gray,” future governor Joseph Hiester survived imprisonment on the infamous British death ships of Wallabout Bay.

Johan Daniel Gros: Chaplain of the Revolution

Continental Army Chaplain John Daniel Gros, who penned the first volume of moral philosophy in America.

Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt originally belonged to the Reformed Church in America  (RCA), a Dutch-American group. As a private person, Roosevelt attended religious services wherever he was. He preferred the Reformed Church if one were available to attend and is reported to have said, “I take a sentimental satisfaction in worshiping in the Church of my fathers.”

We will also tell the stories of the Palatines of New York and the Volga Germans who settled the Plains.

The lineage of the German Reformed Church in America is much larger and more widespread than today’s Reformed Church. This “diaspora” of churches are found among the United Brethren, Church of God, Congregational, Presbyterian, Evangelical Association, and many other denominational, independent, and union church bodies.

In particular, we will note the vital role played by the Church in winning American independence, and not only as soldiers and statesmen. 20% of her ministers served as chaplains in the Continental Army.

It’s a bold and beautiful story of a church and a people whose commitment to liberty and freedom of religion helped shape a nation.

The church grew rapidly in the Nineteenth Century, moving from the German to the English language, and changing its name to the Reformed Church in the United States.

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