Monday, January 28, 2008

Sander Mack

Alexander Mack, Jr. was the oldest of three sons born to Alexander and Anna Margaret Mack. He was born in Schwarzenau, Germany on January 25, 1712 and moved with his family at the age of 17 to Germantown where he learned the weaver's trade. He was successful and widely known for the stockings, caps and skirts he manufactured. He lived exceedingly simple, had few wants to supply and saved as much as possible.

He was a strong man and it is said that at the age of 82, walked 10 miles on a particular day.

Upon the arrival of his family in Germantown, he was known as a spirited preacher on Sunday afternoons to the unmarried people in the congregation. Following the death of his father in 1736 Sander, as he preferred to be called, was greatly depressed. At this time he was greatly influenced by one Stephen Koch and joined with him in establishing a small monastery on Wissahickon. A couple of years later he joined the Ephrata Society.

But all did not go well at Ephrata and after a tension and rivalry grew in the Society, Mack left with several others on a long journey hoping absence would help relieve the situation. However, upon their later return to Ephrata they found the trouble no less.

By 1748 Mack had lived in Germantown long enough to win the confidence of the people and he was appointed, along with Cristopher Saur, to provide oversight for the congregation on a trial basis. Five years later in 1753 they were ordained bishops. Mack was an unusually good bishop and served the church in this capacity for fifty years.

In 1749 at the age of 37 he was married to Elizabeth Nice. They had two sons and six daughters.

His writing ministry was stronger than his preaching ministry and more of his writings have been preserved than any other member of the early church. His preserved letters provide us with the ideals and spirit of the church of that day. He was also among the best poets and hymn writers of the early church. His last "Birthday Hymn" was written on this date, January 28, in 1802. As translated from German, it reads:

Before the mountains were made
And the world was created,
God loved the gates of Zion,
Just as now and forevermore.
And out of pure loving
He has written us in the book of life
Whoever signs his name thereto,
Will remain in blessed state.

"The poor pilgrim whom the mercy of God has sustained unto his 90th year has written this yet with his own hand. Sander Mack

Source: Some Who Led by D.L. Miller & Galen B. Royer