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Arthur C. Piepkorn Research Collection for "Profiles in Belief", the Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada
GTU 89-5-015  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Arthur C. Piepkorn Research Collection for "Profiles in Belief", the Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada
    Dates: 1926-1977
    Bulk Dates: (Bulk 1966-1973)
    Collection number: GTU 89-5-015
    Creator: Piepkorn, Arthur C.
    Collection Size: 27 boxes

    26 linear ft.
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    Abstract: The collection contains materials gathered or generated for researching, compiling, and writing Arthur Piepkorn's "Profiles in Belief". Materials include correspondence, drafts of material written by Piepkorn, copies of information from books or other sources, brochures, pamphlets, newsletters, periodicals, periodical and newspaper articles, photographs, bibliographies, etc.
    Shelf locations: 4/A/1 - 4/B/3
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    Arthur C. Piepkorn Research Collection for "Profiles in Belief", the Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada, GTU 89-5-015. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    The Collection was transferred in 1983 to the Graduate Theological Union Archives from the Christ Seminary-Seminex Library, St. Louis, MO.


    Arthur Carl Piepkorn, 1907-73, was born June 21, 1907 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He married Miriam Agatha Sodergren, 1904-78, in 1936 and they had four daughters, Mary Catharine, b. 1937, Faith Elisabeth, b. 1939, Felicity Ann, b. 1942, and Angela Dorothea, b. 1944.
    Dr. Piepkorn received degrees from Concordia College, Milwaukee, 1925, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, 1928, and a Ph.D. with a specialization in Babylonian archeology from the University of Chicago, 1932. He was ordained in 1930 by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod serving pastorates in St. Louis, Chisholm, MN, and Cleveland. 1940-51, he served as a U.S. Army chaplain, and was the senior chaplain of the U.S. Occupational Forces in Germany, 1945.
    In 1951, he joined the faculty at Concordia Seminary as Professor of Systematic Theology. Piepkorn joined with the faculty majority in signing protests to controversial resolutions passed in the early 1970s by the Missouri Synod at their New Orleans Convention. He was subsequently promoted to a non-teaching administrative position and offered "honorable retirement" at age 65. Piepkorn resigned instead, and with other faculty members who split from Concordia, became part of the Christ Seminary - Seminex, the seminary in exile. He suffered a fatal heart attack December 13, 1973.
    Dr. Piepkorn was a prolific preacher, lecturer, researcher, and author. His largest undertaking was Profiles in Belief: The Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada which he had begun about 1965 and was working on at the time of his death. This had been commissioned by Concordia Publishing House to update F.E. Mayer's 1961 The Religious Bodies of America. Dr. Piepkorn had worked on that publication and is listed as an author as well. Profiles in Belief was completed and edited by John H. Tietjen, then posthumously published in four volumes by Harper and Row in 1977. ( Note: The biographical information is taken from the Guide to the Piepkorn Papers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Archives, Chicago. See the full Guide in Box 20, File Folder 21b.)
    Dr. Piepkorn's method for researching and gathering the information to be included in Profiles was first to contact all the bodies listed in the 1961 Religious Bodies, send them copy from the book, and ask for updates or corrections. He also searched for and contacted bodies not listed in the 1961 book asking for information on their organizations and beliefs. He used informants all over the U.S. and Canada, usually Lutheran pastors serving churches in a town or area to help him locate and get information on still more bodies. There were also two major researchers who assisted in gathering information. From the late 1960s, he was assisted by James V. Geisendorfer, and in the 1970s by J. Gordon Melton. Melton and Geisendorfer later co-authored A Directory of Religious Bodies in the United States, 1977. Dr. Melton, directing the Institute for the Study of American Religion since 1969, has deposited his extensive research materials, known as the American Religions Collection, to the Special Collections Department the University of California, Santa Barbara Library. He has continued to research and publish in Dr. Piepkorn's tradition, notably The Encyclopedia of American Religions.
    Dr. Piepkorn included leaders and/or members of all the bodies he researched in formulating and interpreting their history, beliefs, organization, and practices. The Collection includes extensive correspondence between Piepkorn and individuals within each of the bodies. He would send them an introductory letter explaining the project, and if he had a written piece, he would include it and ask for their feedback, updates, or corrections. The Collection is built from this interaction between Piepkorn and members of the bodies he was researching. As much as possible, he let the people speak their beliefs with a minimum of his external interpretation.
    In the Foreword to Vol. 1 of Profiles in Belief, Martin E. Marty writes: "Arthur Carl Piepkorn was a confessional Lutheran, but he does not use the confessional stance as a means of ranking the value of beliefs. Instead, that stance turned out to be the means of assuring readers that the author knew the importance of beliefs, knew what it was to confess a faith, was aware of the intellectual power that can reside in a religious tradition." (Pg. xii) Harry McSorley continues in the Introduction: "... facts, figures and insights concerning comparative theology and ecclesiology that regularly amazed those who knew Piepkorn were not odd tidbits stored up in a pedantic section of this first-rate scholar's mind. They, and thousands more, were all part of a grand design that is finally beginning to emerge with the appearance of this first volume of Profiles in Belief, an unprecedented encyclopedic treatment by one man of the religious bodies of the United States and Canada. ... [M]any of us wish we could have what we do not have - Piepkorn's own preface and introduction. Only there would we be able to learn definitively of Piepkorn's objectives, intentions and methodological assumptions and techniques. (Pg. xv) ... I take it as beyond dispute that Piepkorn has pursued his study 'in fidelity to truth and with a spirit of good will.' (Pg. xvi)" John H. Tietjen ends his Editor's Preface: "As Arthur Carl Piepkorn himself would have concluded, pax et gaudium." (Pg. xiv)

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Collection was transferred in 1983 to the Graduate Theological Union Archives from the Christ Seminary-Seminex Library, St. Louis, MO. That same year the Seminex librarians sent Piepkorn's personal papers to the Lutheran Church archives. The Profiles Collection was sent to the Graduate Theological Union Library because the library was collecting heavily in New Religious Movements and alternative religions and organizations. The Center for the Study of New Religious Movements had been established at the GTU in 1977. As part of the Center's mission, it set up a resource collection in the GTU Library for scholarly research. Though the Center closed in 1983, the Library continued the New Religious Movements collecting focus.
    The Piepkorn Profiles Collection was sent to the GTU Library to augment its New Religious Movements collections. In 1985, the GTU Library staff went through the Piepkorn Collection and removed files on new or alternative religious groups. These were transferred to the New Religious Movements Organizations Vertical Files Collection (GTU 99-8-1) (See collection guide, Box 20, File Folder 21a). All the files removed from the Piepkorn Collection have been identified in the NRM Organizations Vertical Files Collection so that the intent and extent of Piepkorn's original research can be reconstructed and understood as a whole.
    Box 20 holds inventory lists of the Piepkorn Collection received from the Seminex Library, a Master List of Piepkorn's Church Bodies files, and an alphabetical list of Church Bodies. From this list, the GTU Library Staff checked off which files were removed and transferred to the New Religious Movements Vertical Files Collection.
    Included with the files sent from Seminex were several books. These have been transferred to three areas in the GTU Library: the circulating collection, the Rare Books collection, or put in Storage for library use only. The book titles are all listed in the "Separation Notes". By the several stamps in the books, it appears that they were Dr. Piepkorn's personal property which he donated to the Seminex Library. At some point, the books were later withdrawn from the Seminex Library and included in Piepkorn's research collection sent to the GTU Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    United States--Religion--History--Sources
    Church history--United States--Sources
    Church history--Canada--Sources
    Catholic Church--United States--History--Sources
    Catholic Church--Canada--History--Sources
    Protestant churches--United States--History--Sources
    Protestant churches--Canada--History--Sources
    Orthodox, Eastern Church--United States--History--Sources
    Orthodox, Eastern Church--Canada--History--Sources
    Sects--United States--Sources
    Cults--United States--Sources
    Geisendorfer, James V.
    Melton, J. Gordon
    Tietjen, John H.

    Related Material

    Profiles in Belief: The Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada, by Arthur Carl Piepkorn (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). GTU Library call no. BR510 P53 1977.
    The Religious Bodies of America, by F.E. Mayer and Arthur Carl Piepkorn (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961). GTU Library call no. BR516.5 M3 1961.
    New Religious Movements Organizations Vertical Files Collection: Graduate Theological Union Archives, GTU 99-8-1. (See the full Guide in Box 20, File Folder 21a.)
    The Papers of Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907 ? 1973): The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Archives, Chicago. (See the full Guide in Box 20, File Folder 21b.)

    Separated Material

    BOOKS transferred to the Graduate Theological Union Library Rare Books (alphabetical by title):
    • The Divine Revelation: The Seven Spirits of God, by The Angel of Jehovah (?) (The Disciples of Christ: Geneva, 1922).
    • Eternal Life: The Tabernacle with Men, The Restoration of all Things, by The Angel of Jehovah (?) (The Messenger of the Lord (?): London, North Bergen, n.d.).
    • Guide to Tenrikyo: Oyasato, 1963.
    • Lietuviu Kataliku Tautine Baznycia, Scrantono Parapija, 1913-1949, Province of God Lithuanian Catholic Church, Scranton, PA. (In Lithuanian)
    • The New Earth: The Book of Remembrance, or The Message to Humanity: The Book of Remembrance; and The Universal Law: The Day of Deliverance, by The Angel of Jehovah (?) (Philanthropic Assembly (?): New York, 1944).
    • The Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch on the Pristine Orthodox Dharma, Hui-neng; Paul F. Fung and George D. Fung, translators (San Francisco, Calif.: Buddha's Universal Church, 1964).
    • The United American Free Will Baptist Church, 1967 (Kinston, NC: Centennial Committee, United American F.W.B.).
    BOOKS transferred to the Graduate Theological Union Library Storage: Library Use Only (alphabetical by title):
    • Constitution and Discipline, Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, 1958.
    • The Constitution, Government, and General Decree Book of The Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth (The New and Living Way Publishing Co.: Chattanooga, TN, n.d.).
    • The Constitution, Government, and General Decree Book of The Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth (The New and Living Way Publishing Co.: Chattanooga, TN, 1967).
    • Discipline of the House of God which is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of Truth (Church of the Living God Publishing House: Philadelphia, 1961).
    • Divinity of Woman: Her Superiority Over Man, by Hilario Camino Mancado (Filipino Federation of America: Los Angeles, 1927).
    • General Orders for Conducting Salvation Army Ceremonies, issued by authority of The General (Salvationist Publishing and Supplies: London, 1966).
    • The Land of Shalam: Children's Land, by K.D. Stowes (Frank Molinet Print Shop: Evansville, IN, 1958). A reprint from The New Mexico Historical Review 33:1-2, 1 & 4/1958.
    • Look Within: A Preliminary Introduction to the Recovery of the Gnosis, Orphanus (Oroville, Calif.: Point Dawn Foundation, 1968).
    • The Master Key: The Story of the Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association, by Paul W. Worcester (Nazarene Publishing House: Kansas City, MO, 1966).
    • Minister?s Ritual and Record Book: The Spiritualist Episcopal Church (Dimondale, MI: The Spiritualist Episcopal Church Library Department, 1958).
    • The Overcomers Church (Evangelical): The Manual and Constitution of The Overcomers Church and Some Facts and History Concerning the Christian Church, authorized by The International Council (Canada, 1952).
    • The Salvation Army Directory (With Notes and Illustrations), issued by authority of The General (Salvationist Publishing and Supplies: London, 1962).
    BOOKS transferred to the Graduate Theological Union Library circulating collection (alphabetical by title):
    • Background and History: General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, by Joseph M. Stowell (Gospel Tracts Unlimited: Hayward, CA, 1949).
    • The Book of Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1964 (The A.M.E. Sunday School Union: Nashville, TN, 1965).
    • The Book of Doctrines, 1903-1970 Issued in the Interest of the Church of God (Church of God Publishing House: Huntsville, AL, 1970).
    • Book of Onias, R.C. Crossfield (New York: Philosophical Library, 1969).
    • A Brief History of the Evangelical Congregational Church: for the Enlightenment of Her Pastors and People, Robert Sherer Wilson (Myerstown, PA: Church Center Press, 1953).
    • A Catechism on the Christian Religion, by Mel-Thomas Rothwell and Helen F. Rothwell (Pilgrim Publishing House: Indianapolis, 1944).
    • Confession of Faith and Government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Adopted 1883, Revised 1963 (Frontier Press: Memphis, TN, 1963).
    • Constitution and Bylaws of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union (The Advocate Publishing House: Circleville, OH, 1965).
    • Constitution and Government of the Congregational Methodist Church (The Messenger Press: Dallas, 1960).
    • The Constitution and Manual of the United Missionary Church (Bethel Publishing Co.: Elkhart, IN, 1965).
    • The Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Being Its Standards Subordinate to the Word of God (The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church: Pittsburgh, PA, 1949).
    • The Creed, Ritual and Discipline of the Evangelical Congregational Church (Church Center Press, 1960).
    • Declaration of Faith and Discipline for Central Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1960.
    • Discipline of the Evangelical Methodist Church, 1958. (Revised 1962, Third Printing 1965).
    • The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church (The Wesleyan Publishing House: Marion, IN, 1968).
    • Doctrine, Old Order River Brethren, by Laban T. Brechbill, 1967.
    • The Doctrines and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1960 (A.M.E. Zion Publishing House: Charlotte, NC, 1961).
    • The Doctrines and Discipline of the Southern Methodist Church, 1962.
    • Early History of Divine Science: An Informal History of the Early Years of the Colorado College of Divine Science and The First Divine Science Church of Denver, 1896-1922, by Louise McNamara Brooks (First Divine Science Church: Denver, 1963).
    • Early History of The Assemblies of God, by C.C. Burnett (Assemblies of God International Headquarters: Springfield, MO, 1958).
    • The First Discipline of the United American Free Will Baptists Written Under the Direction of the General Conference, 1903, Fourth Revision compiled by G.D. McNeil, Jr. (The General Conference (?): Philadelphia (?), 1959).
    • From Abram Through Armageddon, by C.O. Stadsklev (Gospel Temple: Hopkins, MN, 1960). Bound with A Defence of Armageddon, or Our Great Country Foretold in the Holy Scriptures, by F.E. Pitts (J.W. Bull: Baltimore, 1862).
    • God, and His Name: A Message for Today, by Rev. W.H. Offiler (published by the author, 1932).
    • Grappling With Destiny, Basil Miller (Los Angeles: Wings of Healing, 1962).
    • A History of the Church of God (Holiness), Clarence Eugene Cowen (Overland Park, KS: Herald and Banner Press, 1949). Thesis for the Ph.D., University of Missouri, 1948.
    • A History of the Church of Jesus Christ Organized at Green Oak, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in the Year 1862, W.H. Cadman ([Pennsylvania?]: The Church of Jesus Christ, 1945).
    • History of the Free Will Baptists of North Carolina, Revised Edition, Books One and Two, by J.M. Barfield and Thad Harrison, ca. 1898; J.O. Fort, Revising Editor, ca. 1959.
    • A History of the Minnesota Baptist Convention, by David Becklund (Minnesota Baptist Convention (?): Minneapolis, MN, 1964?).
    • How God Delivered 34 Churches: The Group Now Known as the Bible Protestant Church, Newton C. Conant (Camden, NJ: Bible Protestant Press, [1964]).
    • The J. Frank Norris I Have Known for 34 Years, by Louis Entzminger, 1946.
    • A Manual of Seventh Day Baptist Church Procedure (Revised), eds. William Lewis Burdick and Corliss Fitz Randolph (American Sabbath Tract Society: Plainfield, NJ, 1926).
    • Manual of the Pilgrim Holiness Church (The Pilgrim Publishing House: Indianapolis, 1966).
    • Minister's Service Book: The Liturgy and Ritual of the Universal Spiritualist Association, compiled by Clifford Bias.
    • Ogamisama says . . . : Religious and Philosophical Teachings of the Japanese Prophetess of Tabuse (Tensho-Kotai-Jingu-Kyo: Tabuse, Yamaguchi, Japan, 1963).
    • One Hundredth Anniversary of Modern Spiritualism: Centennial Book of Modern Spiritualism in America (Chicago: The National Spiritualist Association of United States of America, 1948).
    • Origin, Doctrine, Constitution and Discipline of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, 1965-1969 (U.B. Publishing Establishment: Huntington, IN, 1965).
    • Origin, Doctrine, Constitution and Discipline of the United Christian Church (Church Center Press: Myerstown, PA, 1950).
    • The Pauline Ministry in the Kentucky Mountains, Or: A Brief Account of the Kentucky Mt. Holiness Association, by Lela G. McConnell (Berne, IN).
    • Principles of Education, by Sang Ik Choi. Volume I (1969): Theory of Cause and Effect, Theory of the Ideal Man, Theory of the Origin of Crimes; Volume II (1970): Theory of Happiness, Purpose of Mankind, Theory of Universal Value of Good and Evil (Re-Education Center: San Francisco, 1969-70).
    • Prisons With Stained Glass Windows, by A.A. Allen (A.A. Allen Revivals: Miracle Valley, AZ, 1963).
    • Profile of the I.H. Convention: A 25 Year Historical Scan of the Inter Church Holiness Convention, compiled by H.E. Schmul and E. Fruin (Salem, OH: I.H. Convention, [1977]).
    • Purified As Gold and Silver, Blanche W. Beeston (Idaho Falls, Idaho, 1966).
    • Selections from the Book of Spirit and Life: Including The Book of Prayers and Songs, Maxim G. Rudametkin; translated by John K. Berokoff (Printed by Whittier, Calif.: Strockton Trade Press, 1966).
    • The Shout of a King: Eye-Witness Account of the Rise of Amazing 20th Century Revival, The Churches of God Pentecostal Movement, by Homer A. Tomlinson (The Church of God, U.S.A. Headquarters: Queens Village, NY, 1968).
    • Spiritualist Lyceum Manual for Use in Spiritualist Progressive Lyceums, arranged by Verna Kathryn Kuhlig (National Spiritualist Association of Churches: Milwaukee, 1962).
    • Spiritualist Manual Issued by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches of the United States of America (Milwaukee, WI: National Spiritualist Association of Churches, 1955).
    • Starving Sheep and Overfed Shepherds, by Clarence G. Mitchell (A.A. Allen Revivals: Miracle Valley, AZ, 1963).
    • A Tapestry of Grace: The Joys and Sorrows of 60 Years of Ministry in the Church of the Brethren, by Edward K. Ziegler (The Brethren Press: Elgin, IL, 1980).
    • Truth is No Tyrant, by Cash Asher (Science of Spiritual Law Publishing Co.: Tonopah, AZ, 1968).
    PERIODICALS transferred to the Graduate Theological Union Library Periodicals.
    • The Marturion, published by the People of The Living God, New Orleans, LA. Nos. 40-79. Nos. 80-122, discarded.
    • New Thought, published by The International New Thought Alliance. 7 issues 1962-69 (several issues missing).
    • The Sikh Review. Guru Gobind Singh's Third Birth Centenary Number. (1 issue) Vol. 14-15, no. 161-162, Dec. 1966-Jan. 1967. Published by The Sikh Cultural Centre, Calcutta, India.
    DISCARDED materials:
    • A.G.C. Reporter, published by the Associated Gospel Churches, Wilkinsburg, PA. 10 issues, 10/1966 ? 9/1970. Held at the California State University, Fullerton.
    • Akwesasne Notes, published the Program in American Studies, University of New York at Buffalo. Vol. 4, 2-6; Vol. 5, 1-3, 1972-73. Held at the Berkeley Public Library.
    • The Faith, published by the Assembly of Yahweh. Vol. 30:2, 2/1967 ? Vol. 36:9, 9/1973. Held at Oral Roberts University, Oklahoma.
    • Magnificat, Monthly publication of the Apostles and Disciples of the Mother of God (Apostles of the Infinite Love), Saint-Jovite, Quebec, Canada. 1967-73. Held at the Boston Theological Institute and the National Library of Canada.
    • The Primitive Baptist Library Quarterly, published by the Primitive Baptist Library, Elton College, North Carolina. 11 issues, Vol. 6-10 (several issues missing), 1965-69. Held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University, NC.
    • Voice from Heaven, published for Ogamisama by Tensho-Kotaijin-Gu Kyo, Tabuse, Yamaguchi, Japan. Nos. 17-54, 1966-73. Held in the Stanford University Library, Palo Alto, California.
    • The Voice of Evangelical Methodism, published by the Evangelical Methodist Church, Wichita, KS. 1/1976 ? 8/1971. Held at Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California.
    • Zion's Landmark, published by Primitive or Old School Baptist, Wilson, NC. Vol. 102, nos. 12-23, 5-10/1969. Held at the American Baptist Smauel Colgate Historical Library, Rochester, NY, and University of Texas, Austin.
    • Zion's Herald: Journal of the Goshen Fellowship, published in Bexleyheath, Kent, England. 10 issues, 3-11/1973.