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Photo of the Month
August 2023
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places


This 1874 church certificate, known as a "confirmation schein," is printed entirely in German and not only demonstrates our family’s Pennsylvania German heritage but also helps us understand their cultural shift into a more mainstream American life and language. 

The document marks the baptism and confirmation into the family house of worship of David J. Leibensperger Jr. (1860-1933) son of David and Lovina (Heimbach) Leibensperger Sr. of near Red Lion Station in Berks County, PA, of the family of Nathan and Sarah "Sally" (Wetzel) Heimbach. Pre-printed by J.D. Wollenweber of 406 Green Street in Philadelphia, it contains five verses of scripture in addition to a lines from the 1865 hymn "Ewig, Ewig Bin Ich Dein." ("Christ My Song"). The blank sections were filled out and signed in ink by Rev. Eli Keller of the Reformed wing of Huff's Lutheran and Reformed Church of Zionsville, PA. The event took place when David Jr. was 14 years of age, on Nov. 6, 1874, one of 26 confirmations there that day.The scripture verse at the bottom is from Revelation 2:10 -- "sei getreu bis in den Tod, so will ich dir die Krone des Lebens geben." Its English translation is "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." 

The schein's Pennsylvania-German dialect language is spelled out below, and the translation into English is approximate in accuracy. What’s equally interesting is that when David’s brother Nathan was confirmed in the same church a dozen years later in 1886, and received a similar schein signed by the same pastor, it was printed entirely in English, reflecting a shift from the old ways.

David Jr. went on to a working career as a coal and granite miner and farmer. At the age of about 29, in 1889, he was united in matrimony with 21-year-old Tama "Tammie" Hoffman (1867-1927), daughter of George and Hettie (Reinert) Hoffman. The same pastor, Rev. Keller, officiated at the wedding. The couple's two offspring were Mary (Leibensperger) Wetzel and William George "Willie" Leibensperger. Burdened with heart disease, hardening of the arteries and pneumonia, David died at the age of 73 on Sept. 2, 1933. 

Huff’s Church was then and remains today home to two congregations – the traditional German Lutherans and the Reformed church which today is aligned with the United Church of Christ.

In German: In English:
Jesaia 54.10 – Es sollen wohl Berge weichen und Hügel hinfallen; aber meine Gnade soll nicht von dir weichen, und der Bund meines Friedens soll niche hinfallen, spricht der Herr, dein Erbarmer.
Isaiah 54:10 - There are supposed to be mountains and hills to fall; but my grace shall not depart from you, and the covenant of my peace shall not fall, saith the Lord thy merciful.
Matthai 11, 28 – Kommet her zu mir alle, die ihr mühselig und beladen seid, ich will euch erquicken.
Matthew 11:28 - Come to me all who are laborious and burdened; I want to refresh you.
5 Mose 29, 9 – So haltet nun die Worle dieses Bundes und thut darnach, auf dass ihr weislich handeln mögel in allem euren Thun.
Deuteromony 29:9 - So now keep the word of this covenant and do it, so that you may act wise in all your actions.
Marci 8, 34 – Wer mir will nachfolgen, der verleugne sich selbst, und nehme sein Kreutz auf sich und folge mir nach.
Luke 9:23 - Who wants to follow me, deny himself and take his cross daily and follow me.
Ich entsage, Satan, dir
Dir, o Welt, und dir, o Sünde,
Ich entsag euch, weicht von mir,
Dem erlosten Gotteskinde!
Eure Lust ist Schmach und Pein!
Gott, nur Gott will ich mich weihn!
I renounce you, Satan, you
You, O world, and you, O sin,
I renounce you, depart from me,
To the redeemed God child!
Your lust is shame and pain!
God, only God I want to consecrate myself!
Wachen will ich, flelin um Kraft,
Dass ich stets auf seinem Wege
Heilig und gewissenhaft
Und im Glauben wandeln moge
Er wird mir die Kraft verheihn
Treu bis in den Tod zu sein.
I want to watch, flelin [?] for strength, That I am always on his way Holy
and conscientious
And may walk in faith
He will give me the strength
To be faithful unto death.

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