Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

William Schumacher


Blythe, Richard J. “The Pelikan Movement: An Immigrant Story.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2008. 306 pp.

The Pelikan Movement, led initially by Jan Pelikan, the grandfather of the Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan, was a pivotal event in a Slovak Lutheran immigrant community that desired to provide a confessional Lutheran witness to their mother country. Shortly after the First World War, this immigrant community was resolute to return to Slovakia to share their confessional Lutheran understanding of the Christian faith, in the Hurban tradition, as well as their new church polity and practices that they adopted in America during the previous few decades. They were initially well received, but soon found that they were of a different spirit. After being rejected as partners in ministry with their former countrymen, they determined that the best way to ensure a confessional Lutheran witness was to start their own mission and create their own church against the desires of the indigenous Slovak Lutheran Church. The Slovak Lutheran Church received the missionaries as interlopers in a process of self-definition of a new European church that was shaking off years of domination under Hungarian rule. They were not understood as a confessional witness, but as divisive and sectarian. At the end of the movement, the immigrant community retreated from their mission, losing interest in a direct relationship with their mother church. Having failed to keep a strong connection to their home church and culture, they chose to embrace their new American reality and to assimilate into America as an American church. The Pelikan Movement marked the beginning of the end of one immigrant community’s attempt to keep close ties with their home culture and spiritual home.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.