William G. Arbaugh
William George Arbaugh was born on June 16, 1902, near Goshen, Indiana. He enrolled in the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (Mount Airy), from which he received his B.D. degree in 1926. He was ordained at Grace Lutheran Church, Gary, Indiana, on November 10, 1926, and became a minister in the Michigan Synod of the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA).
On November 1, 1928, he became a ULCA missionary to Puerto Rico. He served as a pastor in the field until 1938, but also quickly demonstrated his interest in writing and administration. He became the Secretary of the Lutheran Conference of Puerto Rico by the end of 1928 and became the business manager and an associate editor of the “El Testigo” Lutheran magazine in 1932. In 1938 he became the full-time representative and field treasurer of the ULCA’s Board of American Missions (BAM) in the West Indies. On September 1, 1945, he became Secretary for Latin America under the BAM, residing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While serving as Secretary for Latin America he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Carthage College in 1951.
Other activities pursued by Arbaugh during his Puerto Rico years including serving as the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Caribbean Synod; managing a Lutheran bookstore; editing the “Manual de Culto Cristiano,” a Spanish Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal; serving as president of the San Juan Ministerial Association; chairing the San Juan U.S.O. Committee on Management during World War II; and serving as a member of the Puerto Rico Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Upon his relocation to New York in 1956, Arbaugh assumed supervision of the pre-publication plans for a new Spanish hymnal. He resigned from the BAM in 1958 and on January 1, 1959, became pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Middlebury, Indiana, and of St. John’s Lutheran Church at Fish Lake, Indiana. He served both congregations until his retirement in 1968. He continued to serve as editor and chairman of the hymnal committee. In 1962 he began compiling a history of the newly-formed Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. On December 24, 1974, while driving alone on an Illinois tollway, Arbaugh’s car went out of control and struck a concrete abutment at a toll plaza, where he died at the scene. Description:
This series documents the final years spent in Puerto Rico by the Rev. William G. Arbaugh, primarily 1951 to mid-1956, with scattered letters from before 1951. It also documents the two and a half years, 1956-1958, during which Arbaugh worked at the ULCA headquarters in New York City. Most of the series consists of Arbaugh’s outgoing correspondence. In relation to his work in Puerto Rico and Latin America, his letters are full of observations and commentary on events and developments, including the Puerto Rico nationalist insurrection, his role in providing impetus for the formation of the Caribbean Synod, and his criticism of the Lutheran Peace Fellowship for elevating the cause of peace above that of “the world’s response to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” The series also contains photographs, evidently taken by Arbaugh, of West Indies mission work in the U.S. Virgin islands in 1941. Records are from 1926-1958 with the bulk dating from 1951-1958.