History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 85 - 89


my belief based on the word of God for arrogance and stubbornness. I was sold out, dishonorably discharged from office, and abandonned to the woes experienced by any family father who has lost his post and means of financial support. To God alone all honor, for He protected me amid so many troubles and fortified my faith. In distress I returned home on October 29th. The time of the Reformation festival was at hand. Despite attempts by certain members of the church administration to hinder me, I wanted once again to go up into the pulpit where I had loudly and clearly proclaimed God's word for 8 ½ years to the best of knowledge and ability. I wanted once more to testify to my agreement with the doctrine of our evangelical-lutheran church and once again sing with the congregation the words to Luther's hero song, "A mighty fortress is our God." However a commission, composed of Pastor Schaller as the newly elected District President and Prof. Biewend, followed quickly on my trail. They arrived in time for the Reformation festival. That same afternoon they began discussions with the assembled congregation. After a report was delivered on the proceedings of the synod, the congregation members were asked individually if they agreed with the verdict of the Synod regarding my expulsion. 49 votes were cast in favor and 26 voted against it. As a means of keeping the congregation together, the 2 commissioners tried to convince me to voluntarily resign my post. I asked for 8 days to consider it. I was given until the following day. I would have been willing to resign in order to prevent schism and the hard times that would have followed. The decision was a hard one for me. However after much examination of my conscience before God, consultation of the advice given by the late Pastor Gruber, and advice given by many members of my congregation, who urgently pleaded with me not to abandon them to this oppression because they could not agree with the Synod in good conscience, I made this declaration on the following day: Because I had received my ministry from God and did not think that it was being taken from me by God, because I was not aware of having pronounced any false teachings or been guilty of any wrongful deeds, and because many members


of my congregation desire my further service and have conscientious misgivings concerning my dismissal, I cannot resign my post.

With the measures they had taken having failed, the commissioners called me a stubborn heretic, who had given no consideration to the warning delivered by the Synod to desist in my error. For this reason the Synod had been forced to expel me from their community after I wouldn't listen to the congregation in accordance with Matthew 18, 17. After such vile conjecture Prof. Biewend was asked by an indignant member of the congregation, then should we consider our ordained pastor a pagan and a tax collector? The Professor took refuge in another passage from scripture, namely Matthew 7, 15, and he declared along with Pastor Schaller that I was a heretic, a false prophet and a wolf in sheep's clothing from which people must flee and I could no longer administer a ministerial post in the Lutheran Church. It didn't help when one member and then another reminded them of their grievous sins and their need to answer for them before Christ's seat in judgment. It didn't help when the congregation members tried to show them the difference between a confused teacher and a true heretic. It didn't help when they were reminded that the verdict tread upon remarks made by Bengel, Rambach, Rieger and so many other true servants of God. They stood by their statements and would not be distracted from their unjust course of action. In order to impress their miserable suspicions upon simple people, they repeated their shameless rebuke that I had denied the article of faith concerning the universal resurrection of the dead. How clearly this indicated to me the reasonlessness of their pitiable suspicions. Seeing myself unjustly judged by man I called upon the One, who judged righteously.

They hurried to bring this tragedy to a close. Pastor Schaller formulated the following resolution:

"Since our former teacher and minister, Pastor Schieferdecker, has been revealed as a heretic by the General Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Missouri and other States at this year's session in Fort Wayne,


"since he has created heresy dangerous to the soul and persisted in it despite all warnings, he is thus expelled from the Synod. For the sake of the evangelical-lutheran congregation of Altenburg and our faith we find it necessary to dismiss him from his posting to this congregation."

Each individual had to cast his vote. 49 voted for it, 26 voted against it and 5 declared themselves unable to say either yes or no. Despite all protests and against all rights and customs of the Lutheran Church, which acknowledged that in matters of faith a simple majority vote was insufficient, the entire congregation was held to the majority vote. This majority claimed to represent the congregation and the minority, which had voted no, was instructed by the commissioners that if they still considered Pastor Schieferdecker their minister and pastor then they too would no longer be considered members of the congregation. Rather they would be considered followers of a heretic (see The Lutheran, V.14, no. 12) and if they wished to rejoin the congregation they would have to perform church-assigned penance. They further declared, any member of the congregation, who does not agree with the resolutions of the Synod, is expelled forthwith from the Synod and the congregation. Thus a third of the congregational membership was cut off from the Altenburg congregation with a swipe of the sword without first undergoing examination for their reasons or receiving referral. It was well noted that Christian and Lutheran tradition first demanded the entire congregation be in unanimous agreement concerning a question of teaching before any dismissal from office could occur. One portion could separate itself from the other if it did not want to be brought into error but no portion could do what was required by unanimous vote, in this case enact a dismissal. In a case where one portion of the congregation separates from the other, there is the question of who gets the church property in accordance with the church constitution. But in this case the majority called itself the entire congregation in order to retain ownership of the church property.


The minority was denied all claims to the property and more than once it was denied the right to worship in God's house. People feigned ignorance so as to avoid the righteous demands for Christian love and propriety.

Anyone, who clearly sees the injustice and lack of charity in the behavior of the Synod, will also admit the truth of the words of 1 Corinthians 7, 2 and 3: "You were dearly acquired; do not become servants of men." From this and other passages in scripture it became a duty of conscience for me and my congregation members to defend and preserve our Christian freedom from the tyrannical behavior of the Synod and its anathema of faith. Even Prof. Biewend remarked: "We certainly cannot negotiate with matters contrary to our faith." Incidentally, my true congregation members could not be reprimanded for spiteful or inappropriate behavior. They were willing to let things pass, calling them scandalous scenes. On the other hand the Lutheran depicted us in the most hateful terms. In the published report concerning these events it was said among other things: "It is a false allegation by the opposition that this matter does not concern the 17th Article of the Augsburg Confession. Their chiliasm is a vexatious three-fold rejection of it." And further: "It is a sign of blindness and shamelessness to assert that it's better to be turned into a chiliast than to be branded by the 17th Article. They make themselves three times worse because their opinions are not formed by scripture but rather by their own foolish and insane fantasies."

On the day after this tragic schism, on November 2, 1857, we incorporated under the name "Immanuel Congregation," becoming a fraternal congregation without the need to create a new pastoral position. I still acted as their minister. Without any alteration of the profession of faith a new constitution was drafted and accepted. Soon afterwards a few members from neighboring Frohna joined us. They had found it necessary to leave their congregation


because they had come to the same conclusions which I had about the Synod and its decisions on doctrine concerning the Final Days.

At first we had to hold our church services in people's houses but then, through the loving generosity of the congregation we built a roomy blockhouse, which 7 weeks later was dedicated at the first service celebrating Christmas. After New Year work was begun on a larger stone church, which was dedicated amid great joy, praise and gratitude to God on the 2nd Sunday of Advent.

The congregation in New Wells, which I had earlier assembled and served, became involved in the dispute and separated into 2 sects. After the reappointment of its pastor, Mr. A. Lehmann, in the summer of 1856 I again served them alternately along with Pastor Löber of Frohna. Following the events in Altenburg schism erupted here too. The larger portion of the congregation remained with the Missouri Synod while the smaller group joined my congregation as a filial member. People tried here too to deny the smaller group all claim to the congregation's church property but arbitration by an understanding and Christian American led to a reasonable settlement with which both sides were pleased.

On the other hand we in Altenburg still experienced more distressing times with our former brothers in faith. They had rescinded co-ownership of the church but we still had well-based claims on the church property. For this reason I continued to reside in the parish house, plus I had no other place to live. On December 14th I was notified by the trustees that I had 10 days to vacate the dwelling otherwise they would file suit. They actually filed suit on Easter 1858 but did not win their case the first time. They filed suit again with a different justice of the peace. This time they succeeded with the help of their newly appointed minister, Pastor Beyer, who served as legal counsel


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