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Founding Manifesto of the Protestant League (1887); Statistics on Membership (1887-1913)

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In tackling this work, we are by no means reckoning with great successes at the outset. It will require continuous and tireless effort. The main thing, above all, is not to grow weary. At first, we will encounter prejudices as well: therefore, we wish to proceed toward the ultimate goal step by step. In particular, only when the new undertaking has achieved consolidation and immunity to the suspicion that it represents a new partisan project shall general meetings of the League assume the form of German-Protestant church congresses that will address the existential questions posed to the Protestant Church by our times, serve personal communication between proponents of different views, and, at the same time, also help pave the way for closer contact between German regional churches.

Nevertheless, we are full of confidence that this exhortation to unanimity – which, after all, is not really being raised by us, but rather is being sent out in the same way to everyone on account of the jeopardy in which Protestant Christianity currently finds itself – will indeed be heard on all sides. We are not underestimating the kind of innermost questions that may still lead this person or the other to pursue different paths. But the gravity of the hour demands that we put this aside in favor of our foremost and most sacred duty – namely, firmly uniting for the protection and defense of our fatherland and the German Protestant Church.

Dearest co-religionists and national comrades! For this reason, do not ask who is calling you. In the end, we may rest happily assured that our nation has been assigned its calling in world history by none other than the invisible Lord of the Church himself and by God. Do not allow people to say of us one day: This generation has won, on bloody battlefields, victories of outward power beyond compare and unprecedented successes as well but missed the call to rise up against the archenemy of its spiritual life; accompanied by rapturous rejoicing, it celebrated the 400th anniversary of its great religious hero but withdrew from the duty to manfully defend the achievements of the Reformation, lingering instead in petty beliefs and intellectual lethargy! Gather around the banner of the Gospel and of the Protestantism born of the earnestness of German-Christian conscience. All the signs of the times indicate the advent of a decisive battle. There stands a will, dominating and exorcizing everyone who has put himself in the place of God, – and here the flock of free men of faith and the Lord in their midst! So let us take on the fight, and He, who possesses all the power in heaven and on earth, will lead us to victory!

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