How does Ancestry impact your faith?

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Lowly Layman, Dec 5, 2021.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Recently, my wife became interested in genealogy and got a subscription to ancestry.com. My family never knew much about our origins in America, so I was surprised to find out how long we had been here and how much religious persecution played a part in our arrival here. On my mother's side, her first ancestor to arrive in America was a puritan run out of England for refusing to worship from the prayerbook. On my father's side, it looks like on one side, he comes from Catholic recusants (related to one of the 40 holy martyrs of England who was canonized under Paul VI) who traveled to Virginia in the early 1600s. On the other side, there were Lutherans kicked out of Germany by the Holy Roman Emperor and eventually landed in the colonies.

    It's all very interesting and makes want to learn more. It also, puts a new light on these religious groups, which I never really gave much thought in before.

    Has anyone else learned surprising things from research into genealogy? If so, has it impacted their views on religion?
     
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    It is an interesting pursuit. I come from of long line of miss-handlers of truth, especially on government forms. One lady made it from widow, to separated, to spinster, to single in for sequential censuses. I have learned much. One part of the family were cow keepers in Kensington, London. From a faith perspective they seem to have all been C of E, with the occasional 2nd wedding being chapel. It is a bit like Vera, you just keep putting the little bits together until you get a picture.
     
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  3. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    I know very little about my ancestry. I have no idea what the religious history of my father/fathers family is. I know my maternal grandfather comes from a Roman Catholic family, my maternal grandmother comes from an Anglican family. My eldest aunt was baptised a Roman Catholic, my mother and her other siblings were baptised Anglicans. Some odd family compromise evidently happened there. My mother is into gemstones and star signs, and has some distaste for organized religion.

    I don't think any of it influences my faith very much, beyond how I came to faith. If I found out my ancestors were all anabaptists or hindus or something it wouldn't affect me at all, beyond being an interesting conversation topic.
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    All I know is, my grandparents were all RC. And my parents, too. When the grandparents came from Poland and Slovakia in the late 19th Century, they didn't bring any tales (that I ever heard) about religious affiliations of their ancestors, but I assume they were RC on my paternal grandfather's side since the family names all appear in the RCC's baptismal records. Although we may have a tad of Jewish blood in our ancestry somewhere, based on DNA sampling.

    Obviously, their religious affiliation hasn't affected my own beliefs (a fact for which I caught 'holy heck' from my mother when I told her I was leaving the RCC).
     
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  5. Br. Thomas

    Br. Thomas Member

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    My ancestry endeavors basically confirmed what I had garnered growing up in a very divided family religiously. My paternal-side is now Roman Catholic, having been Greek Byzantine Russian Catholic before hitting the shores of the USA. I am first-generation American. My father and his family were immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is now Slovakia. All are now deceased. My maternal-side came from Norway and are all Lutherans. I grew up hearing each side say the other was wrong. I raised baptized and raised in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. I was told during catechism classes that my paternal-side were all going to Hell. Very confusing religious life for me.

    I have wandered through many studies of religions during my life-time. I attended some classes at a Baptist College during my military-years. I studied Roman Catholicism while stationed in Italy in the military. I studied and followed Buddhism during and after my stay in SE Asia during Vietnam. I spent some years in non-denominational churches. I then stepped into Old Catholic and Liberal Catholic parishes. I went back to investigate Buddhism more and then I swung my attention to Old Catholic and Anglican Catholic study and for a short time affiliated with the Grey Robed Benedictines, which shaped me into much of who I am today. The cell disbanded and everyone went their separate ways. I reverted back to the Anglican Catholic Church and it is there that I still am.

    My ancestry endeavor opened me to how and why each side of my family evolved to where they are today. I sought the order and the tradition of the church that I remember going to with my grandmother as a youth. She had been Greek Catholic Russian Catholic in Europe, but once they left the Eastern USA for the Midwest, the RCC was the closest thing to her beliefs, so that is where she and the rest of the family planted roots, too. My father leaving the church for Lutheranism alienated him from his mother and siblings for a very long time. My going Old Catholic and Anglican Catholic alienated me from my family for a time, too. Ancestry and animosities could have split our families forever, but we overcame that. I am content as to where I am today.
     
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  6. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace Member

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    My ancestry plays no part at all since almost all of my family and their parents before them were agnostics. I checked out several different religions before settling on Christianity because I really felt a connection with Jesus.

    But I wasn't even baptised until I was 25, by my own choice, and in spite of the obvious surprise/disapproval of certain family members. I chose the RCC because I loved Jesus but hated the hellfire and damnation preached by evangelical Christians in the US where I grew up and felt the RCC offered both scripture and tradition, but gave up all church attendance starting in 2015 because of severe disagreements with the RCC over many things. I felt fine on my own for years.

    Then I started attending Mass at my local Anglican parish church at the beginning of this year, and will now be received into the Anglican Communion at my own parish church by the Bishop this coming Sunday (3rd Sunday in Advent - which is about JOY!). I would say God has played a much more significant role in my (choice of) religious life than ancestry has. But that's just me. And I say, if He can find someone like me and turn me into a believer and lover of His, then He can do it for anyone.
     
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  7. DadHocHypothesis

    DadHocHypothesis New Member

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    If my ancestry were a factor, I'd be an Evangelical, Lutheran, or Presbyterian. As it is, though, I'd never be any of those things willingly.
     
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  8. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    That's quite interesting. Most would say in the spectrum of Christian denominations, Lutheranism and Presbyterianism are quite close to Anglicanism. Can I ask what features these denominations are missing that make Anglicanism a good fit for you?
     
  9. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I am very happy to hear you and your family found a way to bridge the divide. My own family currently is quite diverse religiously. We are a loose association Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, and Non-Denoms of varying degrees of devoutness. Among the younger generation there is a startling trend toward non-religiousness and open spirituality. It is quite an uneasy peace, when there is peace. Each one has gone his own way and has done what is right in his own eyes it seems. Culture has become so diffuse nowadays, I'm not sure religious unity even among close family is realistic anymore. Perhaps this is something unique to the US, which has so much religious pluralism.
     
  10. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I am essentially a Euromutt. My ancestry is Scottish, German (Prussian) other German, English, with a small addition of Irish and Italian. So I would be some form of Christian based off ancestry and I just happen to now be an Anglican Christian
     
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  11. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    This is an interesting topic to me. My surname is French and our immigrant forefathers were Hugeunots of some persuasion who fled the old country for the new world. The other side of my family was Scandinavian and Northern European. They left the old countries due to poverty and the almost perpetual cycle of war and degradation that characterized life in the Kingdoms of Sweden, Prussia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    The French side of the family settled in Appalachia and rather quickly drifted into being irreligious. If they went to church at all, whatever was the closest one would do. And for many years those little backwoods churches were mostly served by itinerant preachers who had little formal training or loyalty to a particular denomination.

    In contrast, my Scandinavian ancestors had been Lutheran since the first Lutheran missionaries journeyed to Norway and Sweden. This culture tended to maintain its distinctive identity much more upon immigration to the US. They settled in that portion of the Midwest and Plains States where many towns were ethnic enclaves more or less preserving the customs of the old country. My grandmother told me when she was a girl the Sunday service was still read in Norwegian, which she never bothered to learn (although I did meet my great-grandmother a few times who did know the old language). And in parts of the Midwest it was still possible to find Lutheran churches having services in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Finnish, etc. up into the 1990s. My hometown had a small Slovak Lutheran church which was the last in the area to continue the practice. They never held an English service; they died out and shuttered the doors.

    My grandmother was a bit scandalous for her era. She entered a mixed marriage. Her family was Norwegian and Swedish but she married a man from a German family:D Grandpa was, oddly, raised Methodist but was never particularly fervent in his religion and joined a Lutheran church after marriage. Their journey in Lutheranism is an interesting study in itself. Grandma had grown up in the Norwegian synod, which merged with a couple of other ethnic groups to become the American Lutheran Church in 1960. This group, in turn, merged with two other Lutheran churches to become the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. Though Grandma was a 1950s feminist, they were both uncomfortable with the direction of ELCA at the time of their deaths (2015). But they were of the mindset that as long as some of the radicalism coming out of New York wasn't making its way into their small North Dakota church they wouldn't leave.

    This brings us to the most interesting aspect of this topic: why do people change churches more often and more easily these days than our forefathers? Is it because we are more conscientous about our religion? I don't think so. I think more often it is a symptom of the homogeneity of American Protestantism. For all intents most of it looks the same. So people pick whatever caters to what interests them or is particularly convenient.
     
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  12. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Member

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    The early church was Jewish, Roman, Greek, Ethiopian, Samaritan, and probably several others. Quite a variety. I suspect it would have impacted the form of worship and it probably made them prone to err in different directions. Several letters in the New Testament were written to correct doctrinal errors in various churches.

    You might want to view my recent post "Experience of Liturgical Worship"
     
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  13. Rhys

    Rhys Member

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    I've been researching my family history for the better part of 20 years now. My ancestors were variously Anglican (Church of England), Baptist (assorted; Primitive), Church of Christ (Scientist), Disciples of Christ (Stone-Campbell), German Baptist Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist (incl. United Brethren), Pentecostal (?), Presbyterian (Church of Scotland; Cumberland; Reformed), Puritan (Congregationalist), Quaker (Religious Society of Friends; Evangelical Friends Church International), Reformed (Dutch; German; Huguenot (French); Swiss), Roman Catholic, Schwenkfelder, and Universalist.
     
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  14. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Thats quite a soup!
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    More varieties than Heinz!
     
  16. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    To be blunt, zero effect on what doctrinal beliefs I hold. I am very fascinated with family history but discovering Mexican indigenous animists & Roman Catholics, Spanish or German Jews, Irish and Scots Presbyterians, Welsh Methodists, English Puritans, French Huguenots or German Lutherans would indeed make determining my beliefs by ancestry a tad difficult.
     
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