Skip to main content

Alfred Martin Rehwinkel Papers

Identifier: Collection ID-0671

Scope and Contents

The collection contains biographical information, correspondence, sermons, travel documents, lecture notes and speeches, journals, exegeses, audiotapes, class notes, course materials, writings, manuscript, articles, photographs, museum pieces, magic lantern slides, and several books.


  • 1914 - 1984

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Martin Rehwinkel was born 25 June 1887 in a log cabin parsonage on the northern frontier of Wisconsin in Marathon County, the son of Pastor W. and Henrietta (nee Zernikow) Rehwinkel. He was baptized 10 July 1887 at Zion Lutheran Church, Town of Maine, Marathon County, Wisconsin.

He received his college and professional education at Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri (graduated 1910); and at several theological schools and universities in Canada and the United States. He earned B.A. (1916), B.D. (1918) and M.A. (1919) degrees from the University of Alberta at Edmonton, Alberta. Rehwinkel was ordained into the holy ministry in 1910. His early service was on the frontier of western Canada, at first as a traveling missionary in southern Alberta and British Columbia, then as a pastor in Edmonton, Alberta.

Rehwinkel was the first president of the Alberta and British Columbia Conference of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and led in the organization of the first district of the synod in western Canada. He was also one of the founders of Concordia College, Edmonton, and first president of its board of control. Later he served for seven years as a professor at the school.

Rehwinkel became president of Saint John’s College, Winfield, Kansas, where he served for eight years. In 1936 he was called to a professorship in systematic and practical theology at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. He retired in 1965.

While in Canada, Rehwinkel was active in public life, serving on several important national and civic boards and committees. He was a member of the board of the public library, the board of directors of the Edmonton Art Association and the National Diamond Jubilee Committee in 1927. His German translation of the Canadian national anthem, “Oh, Canada!” was widely used in German circles in Canada.

Rehwinkel is the author of the following books: The World Today—A Challenge to the Christian Church; Communism and the Church; The Flood; The Voice of Conscience; Planned Parenthood and Birth Control in the Light of Christian Ethics; Dr. Bessie, the life story and romance of a pioneer doctor on the western Canadian frontier; The Age of the Earth; and Chronology of the Bible. Rehwinkel was a regular lecturer for Lutheran Laymen’s League seminars, beginning in 1943. The first of these was held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on 19 February 1943. In 1956 Concordia Seminary granted Rehwinkel a sabbatical leave of absence for one semester. He spent the six months in travel and study abroad. He visited the Lutheran Church and seminary in Australia served as guest lecturer at the LCMS mission seminary in India and in other mission locations in that country. He also spent several weeks in Bible lands, namely, ancient Babylon, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Italy and then spent some time in Germany and other European countries.

In 1962 and 1963 Rehwinkel was invited to serve as an exchange professor at the Lutheran seminary in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where he served for one semester and then traveled extensively throughout the length and breadth of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. In 1964-1965 he spent another ten months abroad, serving as an exchange professor at the Lutheran seminary in Adelaide, South Australia. At that time he traveled extensively in Australia. He was then invited to visit New Guinea and serve as lecturer for the LCMS missionary conference on that island. While there he visited the mission stations of the LCMS and other churches in that part of the world.

From New Guinea Rehwinkel went to Africa and spent three months traveling a total of 18,000 miles on that continent. He again visited many mission stations and wildlife parks and refuges. He became particularly interested in the racial problems confronting southern Africa in the 1960s. In 1966 he traveled extensively in Mexico, and in 1967 on his 80th birthday he was the speaker at a mass celebration of 3,000 people for the Canadian Centennial in Edmonton.

Rehwinkel was married to Bessie Lee Efner, a medical doctor, in 1912. They had three children: daughters Dorothy and Helen and a son, Pastor Eugene Rehwinkel. His wife died on 26 May 1962. See Alfred M. Rehwinkel, Dr. Bessie: The Life Story and Romance of a Pioneer Lady Doctor on Our Western and the Canadian Frontier as Told by Herself and Here Presented in a Running Narrative by Her Husband (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963).


46.75 Linear Feet (Thirty-nine cubic foot boxes; one 5" document box; two 2" document boxes; one 1" notebook; 4 large boxes of magic lantern slides; two rolled photo tubes; 3 flat files)

Language of Materials



Physical Location

A.2.4.5 - A.2.6.6; OZ#06

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Concordia Historical Institute Repository

804 Seminary Place
Saint Louis MO 63105 USA