Wichern, Johann Heinrich

Wichern, Johann Heinrich father of the Inner Mission in Germany, and one of the foremost Christian, philanthropists of the century, was born at Hamburg, April 21, 1808. He studied theology at Gottingen and Berlin, and reached the degree of "candidate." On his return home, encouraged by his pious mother, he started a Sunday-school for the poorest and most wicked children in the city, and ultimately had five hundred children under his care. It was this school which gave him the idea of the institution which he opened on November 1, 1833, at Horn, a suburb of Hamburg. He called. it the "Rauhe Haus" (q.v.). In 1845 Wichern sent out his Fliegende Blatter aus dem Rauhen Haus, now the organ of the Inner Mission, in which he urged the duty of laying to heart the misery of our fellow-mortals, and at the same time told the story of his own institutions. In 1848, at the Church diet held at Wittenberg, Wichern presented with such extraordinary eloquence the claims of the sick, the suffering, and sinful, who were their countrymen, that from that hour a new movement on their behalf was begun. This was the so-called "Inner Mission" (q.v.), the very name of which is due to Wichern. Under Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Wichern found favor in court circles, and exerted great influence upon the aristocracy. In acknowledgment of the great services rendered to the cause of the Church, the University of Halle honored Wichern, in 1851, with the doctorate of theology, while Friedrich Wilhelm IV made him a member of the supreme consistory of Berlin. In his official capacity, Wichern was enabled to provide regular religious services in the prisons. In 1858 he founded the "Evangelische Johannisstift" in Berlin, a similar institution to the Rauhe Hans, and organized the Prussian military diaconate. In 1872 he had a stroke of paralysis, from which he never recovered, and died at Hamburg, April 7,1881. See Oldenberg, Johann Heinrich Wichern, sein Leben und Wirken (Hamburg, 1884), volume 1: Krummacher, J.H. Wichern, ein Lebensbild aus der Gegenwart (Gotha, 1882); Monatsschrift fur innere Mission (edited by Schafer, Gfiterslohe, 1881), 1:380 sq.; Zockler, Handbuch der theol. Wissenschaften (2d ed. Nordlingen, 1885), 4:450 sq.; Plitt-Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences Religieuses, s.v. (B.P.)

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