Gettysburg Seminary’s Nelson Strobert Publishes Biography of Daniel Alexander Payne, 19th Century Leader of African American Episcopal Tradition
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg announced the publication this month of a new biography about its most distinguished alumnus, Daniel Alexander Payne, by its faculty member Dr. Nelson T. Strobert.
Strobert’s long awaited book, Daniel Alexander Payne: The Venerable Preceptor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will be distributed through the University Press of America and available at the Gettysburg Seminary bookstore. Payne's modern biographer is Professor of Christian Education in the Paulssen-Hale Chair of Church and Society and Director of the Seminary's Multicultural Programs.
A free Black man, Payne was the first African American to receive a formal theological education at a Lutheran seminary in America and one of the first African Americans to receive a higher education. Following study with seminary founder Samuel S. Schmucker from 1835 to 1837, he was ordained by the progressive Franckian (Lutheran) Synod and then became a leader and a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), and president of Wilberforce University.
South Carolina’s 1835 law prohibiting the education of African Americans forced Payne to abandon the successful school he began for the children of slaves and head north to further his own education with Schmucker at the new seminary in Gettysburg, PA. He was attracted to Schmucker’s anti-slavery writings and received a student initiated scholarship to study at Gettysburg Seminary.
This detailed biography gives a portrait of the life of Payne, highlighting his life as educator, pastor, abolitionist, poet, historiographer, hymn writer, ecumenist, and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Payne was a strong voice for the freedom of his enslaved brothers and sisters of color as well as a vociferous supporter of general and theological education. Upon his election as president of Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1863, Payne became the first African American to lead an institution of higher education in the United States. In addition to exploring his work within the United States, this biography highlights and includes sources from Payne’s travels, work, and reception in nineteenth century Europe.
Strobert has taught Christian education in the seminary curriculum since 1987. He received undergraduate and advanced degrees from Hunter College (NY, NY), Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, John Carroll University (University Heights, OH), and the University of Akron in Ohio. Following his ordination in 1973, he served as a pastor in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and Cleveland, Ohio before his election to the Gettysburg faculty.
More information about the book may be found on the University Press of America website: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780761858676
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the oldest of the eight seminaries of the 4.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, prepares women and men to be outreach oriented pastors, public theologians and mission leaders. In addition, it provides programs in continuing studies, advanced theological education, and specialized educational programs for informed lay persons, ordained and other rostered leaders, and high school youth.
More information is available at the Payne Bicentennial page.