Citation: Daniel, W. Harrison, "WILHELM NAST (1807-1899): FOUNDER OF GERMAN-SPEAKING METHODISM IN AMERICA AND ARCHITECT OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH MISSION IN EUROPE," Methodist History, 39:3 (April 2001), pages 3-4.
Launched on a search for employment, Nast's desire to become a teacher of classics led him to emigrate to America, where the dearth of available persons to teach classics became Nast's opportunity. After teaching for a number of years, most notably as German teacher at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Nast became attracted to the same pietistic elements in Methodism which had also so impressed Wesley in Savannah: the German protest against ecclesiastical formalism, the stress on inner regeneration, and an emphasis on the "priesthood of all believers." With an outstanding theological education already in hand, Nast was ready to answer Bishop Emory's call for German-speaking Methodist preachers. Nast, thereby, became the formal founder of the German-speaking Methodist movement in 1835, when he was sent by the Ohio Conference to be a German missionary on probation in Cincinnati.
Nast quickly synthesized in a vigorous way his teenage ambition to be a missionary, along with realizing the promise of his pastoral and theological gifts. Through his long ministry, many German immigrants were gathered around him in Methodist classes, which formed the basis of the German Districts of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Some of his first contacts who met with Nast in these class meetings were K. H. Doering and L. S. Jacoby, who later became District superintendents for the Pittsburgh German District, and the St. Louis German District, respectively. Even more significantly, L. S. Jacoby was later to return to Germany to take up a post as Superintendent of the fledgling Methodist Episcopal Church in Bremen, Germany, a key center from which Methodism spread more widely in Germany.
Nast's commitment to a theologically grounded group of itinerant German preachers can be seen in his drawing up of an "Authorized Study plan for the German Travelling and Local Preachers," which appeared from 1856 in the Church Order (Kircheordnung) of the German Conferences. A further step towards pastoral and theological education for German speaking Methodism was taken when Nast accepted responsibility for the training of German preachers at German-Wallace College, beginning with forty students in 1864.
Apart from the individuals who were influenced by Nast to enter the ministry to German immigrants in America, Nast engaged in other activities which had the effect of consolidating the German districts in their mission in America. His work at the General Conference of 1848, gave the German districts their vision and legal standing to become integrated, but separate Conferences within American Methodism, charged with the task of reaching the 5 million German immigrants that would arrive. This move demonstrated that for Nast and the other first generation German immigrant Methodists, "connectionalism'' was more than a Methodist administrative approach or theological principle. It was a way of life that nourished their lives together as German-speakers and as Christians, and was critical to their survival in America. With this goal of promoting the German speaking Methodist connection, Nast subsequently provided the first translations of foundational Methodist documents to sustain the German-speaking movement. He was the first translator into German of complete parts of the Methodist Book of Discipline, such as the "Teaching and Church Order," "Articles of Religion," and "The General Rules." In addition, he translated a collection of Wesley's forty-four standard sermons, as well as a forty-part collection of German hymns (1839), not to mention various other administrative documents which nourished connectionalism among the German districts within the wider American Methodist body. That such documents were published in portable, pocket formats of 8cm x 13cm, for the convenient use of Methodist preachers itinerating on horseback, indicates the practical seriousness of Nast' s theological vision of Methodism as essentially a mission movement.
Dr. Mark G. Noffsinger announced earlier this week the appointment of Stanley F. Maxwell as Associate Dean of Students, a new position which will involve new and broader responsibilities for the former Assistant Dean of Students.
Maxwell will deal in the area of what Noffsinger terms as "support help" for the office of the Dean of Students and will serve to evaluate operational patterns and the function and analysis of policy within the area of student affairs.
Mrs. Carol Russell, who has also served as Assistant Dean of Students since September, will be placed in charge of men's residences, as well as women's residences which she currently supervises.
This new arrangement will combine the two areas of concern in residence living, which have in the past been divided under either deans of men and women, or assistant deanships, into one area and under one basic department. Ted Johnson will also serve as an assistant to Mrs. Russell in this area, according to Noffsinger.