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Gros, John Daniel (1737–25 May 1812), clergyman, college professor, and philosopher, was born in the Bavarian Palatinate at Webenheim, near the city of Zweibrücken, Germany, the son of Lorenz Gros and Anna Magdalena. Little is known of Gros’s upbringing and early education. His name is sometimes spelled Gross. Gros entered the University of Marburg in 1758 and then matriculated at the University of Heidelberg in 1761, partaking in theological studies. Having intentions of entering the pastoral ministry of the German Reformed church, Gros journeyed to America, landing in Philadelphia in 1764. As the North American population continued to increase, a growing need for pastors existed. Gros’s esteemed German education and some influential connections led the German Reformed Coetus of Pennsylvania to ordain him in 1765. The coetus enacted the ordination without first receiving ratification from the Dutch Church Synod in Holland, which was the mandated procedure at that time. This was a precedent-setting act, as the German Reformed denomination in America began to break free from the church authorities in Europe....

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Varela y Morales, Félix Francisco (20 November 1788–18 February 1853), educator, writer, and pastor, was born in Havana, Cuba, the son of Francisco Varela y Pérez, a military officer, and María Josefa Morales. An orphan by age six, Varela was sent to live with his paternal grandfather, Don Bartolomé, military commander of a Cuban regiment stationed at St. Augustine in the Spanish colony of East Florida. Varela’s announcement at age fourteen that he wanted to be a priest was a disappointment to his military-oriented family, but he was sent to Havana, where he attended classes at San Carlos Seminary and the University of Havana. Varela earned his baccalaureate in 1806 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1811. He was assigned to teach philosophy at San Carlos....