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Gustav Julius Rechner (1830–1900)

by H. F. W. Proeve

This article was published:

Gustav Julius Rechner (1830-1900), Lutheran pastor, was born on 29 December 1830 at Liegnitz, Silesia, eldest child of Friedrich Rechner, cloth-weaver, and his wife Wilhelmine, née Maiwald. He studied for teaching but was apprenticed to a clothier and then assisted his father as a clerk. He decided to migrate before military call-up, and arrived at Port Adelaide in the Victoria on 7 November 1848. His parents and two surviving sisters followed in 1854.

After a variety of work in the Tanunda district, in June 1850 Rechner became schoolteacher and cantor of the Lights Pass church under Rev. A. L. C. Kavel of Langmeil. He took services on three nights of the week and evening classes in English on three nights for children and adults. He won renown as a teacher and the Lights Pass school grew from 45 to more than 100 pupils. On 23 October 1850 he married Josepha Louise Bertha Bergmann of Liegnitz.

Doctrinal differences between Kavel and his fellow-pastor, G. W. Staudenmayer, came to a head after Kavel's death in February 1860. Rechner, responsible to Staudenmayer for his school but holding to Kavel's views, resigned as teacher and became a clerk of George Fife Angas. Twenty-five families seceded from Staudenmayer in November and called Rechner as their pastor. His ordination by J. C. Auricht on 3 February 1861 was initially opposed by all other groups of the Lutheran Church in Australia.

An energetic and able organizer, Rechner often worked an eighteen-hour day. For forty years he ministered in three churches: Strait Gate (Lights Pass), Grünberg (Moculta) and North Rhine (Keyneton); as members of these churches moved in the 1870s to more remote, newly-opened areas of the colony, he organized churches and served them till additional ministers arrived. In 1874-1900 he was president of the Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Synod of South Australia.

Rechner maintained a lifelong interest in the Aboriginals. In 1863-1900 he was treasurer of the Mission Committee; also chairman in 1874-1900, with confident trust he encouraged his branch of the Church to open or take over a number of areas: Bethesda or Killalpaninna Mission, Cooper's Creek, among the Dieri in 1866; Bloomfield Mission, south of Cooktown, Queensland, in 1883; and Hermannsburg Mission, Central Australia, among the Aranda in 1894.

Rechner died on 21 August 1900 at Lights Pass, survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters; seven children predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

  • Gustav Julius Rechner, ein Erinnerungsblatt (Tanunda, 1903)
  • Th. Hebart, The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia, J. J. Schultz ed (Adel, 1938)
  • Rechner papers and autobiography (Lutheran Church Archives, Adelaide).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

H. F. W. Proeve, 'Rechner, Gustav Julius (1830–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


29 December, 1830
Silesia, Germany


21 August, 1900 (aged 69)
Light Pass, South Australia, Australia

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