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REV. THEODOR NICKEL, LUTHERAN MINISTER, EUDUNDA, S.A.

The Post Card with the printed red 1d KGV stamp was postmarked with the squared circle PINAROO/ JY 27/ 11/ S.A and was addressed to The Rev. Th. Nickel, Eudunda, (South Australia.). The reverse has not been translated from the German, and is dated Pinaroo July 16, 1911 (Figures 1 & 2).

 

Theodor August Friedrich Wilhelm Nickel, Lutheran clergyman, was born on 21 July 1865 at Gustrow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, second son and youngest child of Dr Theodor Nickel, pastor and teacher, and his wife Mathilde. Educated at Gustrow, in 1884 he began training at Concordia Seminary, St Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., an institution of the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio. He graduated in 1888 and was ordained into the Lutheran ministry on 7 October, his first pastorate being in Wisconsin. On 19 October 1890, at Berlin, Wisconsin, Nickel married Lydia, and he became an American citizen. In 1901 he accepted a call to Eudunda, South Australia, a parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia. He was president of South Australian synod in 1902-13 and of the Australia-wide synod in 1903-23.

In 1915 Nickel was interned for one month and suffered considerable indignity. It was stated that he was arrested on trumped-up charges during WWI , and he was only released after the strenuous efforts of his local member of parliament., Patrick MacMahon Glynn. As it turned out he was one of the lucky Germans for others, including the Australian-born Attorney-General of South Australia, Hermann Robert Homburg (who resigned his position), was less fortunate. Nickel became pastor of Tarrington (Hochkirch), Victoria, in 1917.

Nickel served the Lutheran Free Church in Germany from 1923; he ministered at Wittingen and Hamburg and became president of the Lutheran Free Church of Saxony and Other States next year. He retired in 1930 and moved to Gustrow, but returned to Australia in 1935, and settled at Albury, N. S. Wales., to be near his family. He continued to preach throughout World War II.

The Lobethal synod of E.L.S.A.(Evangelical Synod Lutherans in Australia) had conferred an honorary D.D. on Nickel in 1923 through Concordia Seminary, Adelaide, and he was awarded the German Red Cross badge of honour in 1925. A wise, conscientious minister, he preached persuasively. He consolidated synod's theological stance, reformed its constitution, fostered contact with American Lutherans, favored indigenous seminary training, encouraged church schools and introduced a superannuation scheme for church servants. His rise to E.L.S.A. leadership was meteoric, but he was controversial; some questioned his ways, especially at the Eudunda synod in 1902: as chairman he resolved an impasse over support of the Finke River (Hermannsburg) Mission, Central Australia, by disenfranchising those favoring continued help. Some saw his influence as inimical to settling domestic theological differences between the Lutheran synods. His commitment to swift action and what he considered true doctrine produced both admiration and antagonism. Tall and upright, of resounding voice, with an impressive head of hair, he was a dynamic, and forceful man.

Nickel died at Albury on 25 November 1953 and was buried at Trinity Lutheran cemetery. His publications ranged from occasional pamphlets and numerous synodical and pastoral conference essays to devotional and theological articles in church papers. He edited Der Lutherische Kirchenbote until 1917 (when it was closed by the government) and was sole editor of the Australian Lutheran in 1918-23.  A picture of Rev. Theodor August Friedrich Wilhelm Nickel is seen in Figure 3.

 

Most of the text was derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

 
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