Clarifications on the General Meeting held by the Synod of Buffalo by Johann An. A. Grabau,
Pages 6 - 11


subject our congregation to papistry; I would perjure myself, the Synod would split!" etc. I intimated to Hochstetter: A Christian warning to our church members is needed to alert them to the new mutiny in this congregation since the proclamation of March 18th. To this Hochstetter responded: "You call everything that happens behind your back mutiny! You called Pastor Rohr a mutineer and spiritual arsonist behind his back (taken from Hochstetter's and Rohr's correspondence)!
I answered, No! From your own thoughts Rohr provoked you into beginning an open dispute with me over gross misconduct! That's how I saw it. He incited you in the Fall of 1865 and January of 1866. You and he should have come to me openly with proper communication."

This was Hochstetter's response! Yes! No one could approach you, you had placed yourself far too high above us! - (Had they placed themselves any lower?) Then at another time Hochstetter said: You told me at the College (in 1865 at the Ministerial Session), "I wanted to tell you about it! You became hostile! There were ten witnesses."
My answer was "Why didn't you ask me for an answer if I forgot to answer you?" - Now he began to fume! There was no more reasoning! No Christian propriety! Everything collided wildly and then exploded: Yes, religious discussion is just a bother with you! Your proposition is not acceptable! (Also antagonistic, oh such violent men!) He blustered off! Now I knew they had no intention of engaging me in religious discussion!

When I spoke to him about false doctrine, which first occurred in his sermon of March 25th, 6 days before the Feast of the Annunciation, he flew off in a rage. He had maintained among other erroneous things, for example, that Mary may not have beheld the Angel's message, - that was certainly not true since she had beheld it in spirit when she said to the Angel of the Lord: How can this come to pass! Your message speaks of impossible things! And the Angel gave her the answer: "The Holy Spirit will descend upon you," etc. and so much more!

Since then discourse with the rude empty babbler has disintegrated. He has stood over me like one having an invisibly binding power, which lended credence to his presumptions.

After these incidents I held council with proper Christian churchmen in the afternoon over the question of what can be done in regard to the persistant external and internal incitement to rebellion? (They were Schmelzer, Vermehr and Patschke.) They were well aware of the fact that it would be necessary to wait until after Easter before we could gather more witnesses to such instigation. On the third day of Easter, April 3rd, testimony was taken in Bergholz from Conrad Zacher and Mrs. Louise Ritter on what they had seen and heard. On Thursday, April 5th, the comittee assembled:

The above-named church members testified to the bad influence of the Bergholz congregational meetings and it was decided to write Pastor Rohr, respectfully asking him to cease such activity in the congregation meetings. At the committee meeting I read my statement concerning Deacon Hochstetter, taken from the historical entries in the church journal, about his erroneous accusation carried on since February 25, 1864 with regard to the purchase of the school land. I demonstrated the injustice of his accusation with regard to my sermon of January 6th over Matthew 2, and I took him to task over his litigious alliance with Pastor Rohr since the Fall of 1865! I reproached him for having come to me not only with a false or impure heart on February 6th, but with one driven by scorn incited by others, then he maintained that I wanted to scourge him on the pillory and that I had engaged in false doctrine. He rose up against me with new false charges: I had summarized his sermons with others besides Pastor Rohr; these others did not wish to be named but Zeumer went to them today to ask if their names could be given out. I gave the names and then declared he would be a liar if he did not name them.


He now wanted to go to Zeumer to repeat the names but since it was 1 AM he decided to wait. He promised to deliver the names but so far he has not done so!

Hochstetter further desired that I atone for the evil caused by false doctrine on the pulpit. I responded, "I know of no false doctrine."

On April 7th I warned Inspector Zeumer in front of two witnesses, since a private warning had been given on February 7th, in which he begged my forgiveness for uttering seditious words to Hochstetter, those being that they had been placed on the pillory in the sermon. Now Zeumer showed himself quite self-righteous and unrepentant since "he had been correct to speak to Hochstetter thusly."

April 8th - the Sunday after Easter *

The Church Administrators and the Church Fathers come into the sacristy, accompanied by Hochstetter. I read to them the letter, which would be sent to Pastor Rohr because of the scandalous congregational meeting held in Bergholz. Grollmitz and Hochstetter begin to rail against the letter and Hochstetter reiterates: "there may be something wrong here, namely the intended purchase of the school lot in 1864." Grollmitz justifies it, that Hochstetter has permitted secret meetings of several members of the church administration and has gathered in the others' absence witnesses for himself! Now the letter will not be sent because of Hochstetter and Grollmitz's alarm, thus I find it necessary, at least at some point, to justify myself before the Christian congregation, that is because of the charge of false doctrine. This happens on the evening in the congregational meeting, amid the mounting anxiety I tender my resignation to the congregation. The resignation is to no avail.

I myself saw the open rage of Satan transformed into conspiracy. Throughout the entire month of March the hatred and insult seemed to intensify against me; there are letters which can be brought out into the daylight to prove this and I heard the conversations, particularly those of Hochstetter, and I saw the signs. To my regret through rashness a disturbance broke out among some of our church children at the close of this congregational meeting. I garnered the resentment of many and could not restrain one of the evil Hochstetter orators.

Monday, April 9th.

This congregational assembly had scarcely been held, Grollmitz, Becker and Hochstetter formally formed a triumviate and drew up a warrant, which they sent to P. Wollaeger without consulting me or the church administration. They presented me with a copy of it on Wednesday, April 11th at 4:15. Wollaeger would come here, hold an extra session of the Church Ministerium and investigate, even though we had already called for a session of the Synod and were just a few weeks away from a Ministerial Assembly! The warrant contained the following:
1) That Hochstetter, Grollmitz and Becker, among many others, or perhaps a few, were secretly suing for an inquiry against me. The Cause: That I had insulted Hochstetter and the Church Administration and placed the charge of false doctrine against him!
2) Hence it followed that Hochstetter was now in league with a rebel sect in the congregation against me. The sect-devil loves accusation. This was a litigators' club formed behind my back.
3) My statement of April 8th in the congregational meeting was erroneously and unjustly represented; for example, "I had taken my leave of them and many congregation members didn't know what to make of Pastor Grabau," etc.
4) This club, along with its sect witnesses, had risen up behind the backs of the entire congregation with its so-called mission of prevailing over the better judgment of Christians and perverting the course of church affairs, and in particular negating our recourse to a free Synod through chaos.
5) The club agitated things behind my back and that of the congregation, leaving Deacon Hochstetter free to speak of false doctrine in his twisted sermons; I had perceived such human intercourse in the congregational meeting but I only suspected him! This club demonstrated that he had many congregation members supporting him; however these letter writers had been so circumspect that they did not sign the letters in order to avoid notoriety.

*Translator's note: The next paragraph is written in the present tense, as though it were a diary entry, which was transcribed directly into the text. This is Grabau's use of the present tense. Return to text


However when the investigation came, the entire club wanted to bear witness while the Christian community said they were not incited but rather elucidated. Hochstetter had left the church on April 14th. On April 15th, Misericordia Domini [the second Sunday after Easter] the congregation was informed of it from the pulpit and the congregation became aware of its own peril. It was the beginning of Hochstetter's club of rabble rousers, which had empowered itself with the mission of speaking in the name of the congregation; that is, his party would make itself the leading force in and over the congregation. It was not fully possible to achieve the leadership if the club was not in league with the ministers in power. This was worked into place through Hochstetter's mediation and his co-signature and his acquiescence, even as he allowed Zeumer to sign the letter after a copy of it had been placed in my hands!

This rising party went its own way without me and the church administrators; and for what important goal? Answer: In order to supplant the respect the 5 ministers had for me before the ecclesiastic trial and to teach me that a publicly slandered man in ministerial office could not justify himself before his congregation against a charge of false doctrine.

Here is the window to insight into the new state of things - since the April 11th assembly of the church administrators and the entire congregation I have been pitted against two united factions of power, the rabble rousers and the ministerial authorities as brought together through Hochstetter's mediation.

Now this double alliance of authority against us was operating openly, and whether we wanted it or not we were dragged into a confrontation of beliefs; since we had to bear witness against it, we fought our battle for justice and freedom, no longer reliant on the church ministry but solely reliant on the Synod. (Synodal Letter, page 6.)

Hochstetter now stood there as the uniting force and power of the gang and the main scandal monger of the Church Ministry; he abandoned the church on April 11th before he had been banned from preaching.

Scarcely had the letter of the triumvirate reached Wollaeger (and this will be emphasized) when on the evening of the 16th of April his citation of the 12th arrived in perfect police format: "I am informed that you continue to disregard the judgment of the Church Ministry and now incite your congregation, thus I find it necessary to hold a ministerial session in Buffalo on April 19th in order to investigate the matter," etc.

Now we, the pastor and church administration, recognized that this bustle and unabashed arrogance was compelling us towards an impass in Christian faith, in which we were pitted against a force of two sets of conspirators. How could we and the congregation peacefully refer to the Synod? According to the First Synodal Letter, page 6, our freedom to call upon the Synod was assured yet it had been taken away by this fluctuating bipolar force. We had to rebuke this hostile and police-like force and maintain our appeal to the Synod, which would assemble in five weeks. The blinded, bustling Church Ministry believed it was fully justified in its swift and fanatical operations in league with the rabble force. It considered its inquiries into our Christian opinions plausible and it dealt me a decisive blow with a suspension on March 21st. "Thus the iron has been forged," as Hochstetter put it in a letter to Wollaeger. The irrationality of this suspension consisted mainly of the facts that
1. it was imposed by my accusers and their cohorts;
2. it was imposed by a Church Ministry, which had itself appeared before the Synod and had to justify its own teachings and complaints since its judgment was false and erroneous;
3. there wasn't as much justification here as there was with the heathen Romans


in the Acts of the Apostles 25, 21 and 25 and Chapter 26, 32; here Festus and Agrippa did not wish to demonstrate a show of force because Paul had appealed to Caesar. In this case however, this show of force has deemed itself fit to subvert all Christian progress, all justice and all Christian communities.

Thus it stood in our minds and hearts on the evening of April 16th. So followed:

April 17th

On this day, after church committee deliberation, some of those in the opposition forces were given the letter to Hochstetter from the trustees. He was prohibited from preaching and lecturing but he was allowed to conduct altar services in order to alert the church and the congregation of the incursion of this new force in the church assemblies, to maintain the semblance of peace and to keep the path for the Synod's deliberation clean and open. Hochstetter's character and misuse of authority were the pivotal points in this pressing force and the visiting ministers were caught up in it; no force should continue to step between us and the Synod either through persuasion or decree. The letter from the trustees to Hochstetter of April 17th may be interpreted from this sense of religious confrontation and the visiting ministers were also considered within it. Things turned out just the way we thought they would - the order of suspension was place upon me on March 21st in order to prepare for the session of the ministerial and rabble forces. They weren't just ready with a decision or a letter; they had a plan for a public execution. I do not accept this when the workings of an incompetant interim double force, to which my accusers allied themselves, instantly begins to act in an executive manner. How does one get to this point?

Unlike all presumed authority, a church ministry does not have an external police force to carry out its mandates. If such a ministry were police-like or military, it would have to resort to external measures, as a police force does to reach its goals. But to a large extent this was the state of things because recourse to the Synod had been taken away since it was well known that the majority of the Synod conspired with him.

In order to confer actual power and compelling execution to the suspension by executive authority it was necessary to hold a meeting of the administration and the congregation in our church on Sunday, April 22nd. The church administration already knew through delivered messages what the goal of this so-called church visitation on Sunday was about, although the ministerial heads had been sworn to silence. This presumed executive force was thwarted on Sunday by the power of the trustees, aided by the church's refusal to have anything to do with it. What kind of miserable, factioning spirit and what kind of hostile crowd could assemble itself in the church against us and the pastor and issue this papal bull!

After this barbarous force was blockaded, the all powerful church ministry called for a caucus of all men for Sunday evening, April 22nd, at the college. They invited me. There the executive order was proposed! This crowd said yes to everything! - What an abomination!

Other Events from April 16th through May 13th.

On April 16th and 19th we, the Christian administration and I, announced to the heads of the ministry that we did not recognize those same assemblies that they wished to hold here since these assemblies had not been honorably and properly called together - we heard about them from people who were strangers to us and they were assembled without the knowledge of the church administration (by Hochstetter, Grollmitz and Becker). We gave no acknowledgement to such meetings.

Professor Winkler wrote to them with regard to their invitation of April 20th:
"It is my firm conviction that the entire sorry affair from start to finish


"could have been avoided if peace had been pursued with all due effort and seriousness in accordance with God's commandment.
"I consider it an injustice that the most important thing, the exposition of pure teaching, should be assailed or hindered by mediating circumstances.
"The properly call-for meeting of June 4th, 'by the current' (but unfortunately not properly installed) assembly, will put a significant obstacle in the way.
"Therefore I do not believe that any true Lutheran pastor, whose congregation has been assaulted and undermined in so many ways as is currently the case, could have remained silent and surrendered with his hands up.
"Based on the firm clear words of Our Savior in Matthew 5,9 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God,' I have toiled in truest love and humility to speak with the accusers and the accused,' etc.
"The trouble was started by the latter; perhaps the former also had a hand in it? In the previous two-week session (March 8th) with a mighty plea unto God I delivered a judgment, which was duly recorded in the church records (about the teachings of Pastor Grabau). It has been pushed aside, hidden, ignored, suppressed and even reinterpreted to fulfill someone's private meaning! What use would my opinions be in the current set of talks?
"Thus nothing else remains for me to do other than to commend the entire matter into the holy, strong and graceful Hands of God with an urgent plea that He may save us all from our sins and preserve His True Church in accordance with the Will of Christ, Amen."

On April 19th in the evening I received yet another summons: to appear at the Martin Luther College on the morning of the 20th in order to receive the oral and written contempt prepared for me by the current ministerial assembly, presented in the form of a Christian admonishment from the church ministry. The church administrators and trustees were invited to an evening session (to receive instruction). One sees here how these men thought, what great effort they put into the best way to proceed in order to bolster their lordly ministerial respect and in the name of "instruction" to prevail over the Christian administration in matters where they still found it necessary to modify actions through instruction of the church administration. What was put into place there will be established and examined here! -

In this lordly spirit a suspension was arranged and executed on April 21st, then on the 22nd a so-called church visitation was called for and since it was not accepted, the caucus began in the College on Sunday the 22nd of April. On Monday the 23rd the suspension was placed on me (without my consent) by Wolläger, Döhler, and so on; and the caucus at the College on the 23rd of April proceeded, whereby a ministerial congregation, a Counter Church, was built out of the secular wreckage of my congregation along with other people and Hochstetter was installed as pastor presumedly as though he were still in the church. Within 4 days the lust for power of this new ministerial authority led to the upheaval of ecclesiastic matters. They believed, like a band of united foes, that they were performing a necessary service for God while establishing the suspension and executing through decree the ruination of the church congregation! The pamphlet of April 23rd appeared in print in the following days when the fanatacism of the church ministers was in full swing. It proclaimed the following measures:

                              Buffalo, April 23, 1866
      To
Pastor G. Wolläger
         H. E.[Holy Eminence] of Milwaukee
                                     (Printed for the Church Membership)
Notification and Protest
   Honorable Sir!
You have known for a long time that we (The Christian Church Administration here and I) have refuted all accusations made against me, which have been refered to the Synod of June 4th of this year just as they were earlier on March 27th and April 11th and ministerial brethren in Wisconsin have also been paying attention.


You also know that I consider this despotic machine I told you about (created by the triumvirate of Grollmitz, Becker and Hochstetter) to be the work of rabble rousers, that it encroaches upon the Christian church administration and the Synod; that I along with your ministers and others have been summarily barred from intervening in ministerial and church affairs. It is a violation of all Christian and Evangelical manners and precepts (1 Corinthians 14, 40), by order of a triumvirate (created April 9th) as of April 12th I am subjected to investigation, that I "disregarded the verdict of the church ministry of March 8th *) and incited my congregation - to this and much more the Triple Alliance will testify!"

I had to reject these police-like charges because our Christian church administration and the assembled congregation itself was caught up in hierarchical snubbing. The congregational assembly heard nothing from me except for the necessary clearing of my good name, which had been publicly slandered in Bergholz, etc. and here. You call this vindication "disregard for your verdict and incitement of my congregation" and you wanted me to immediately submit to the inquiries of the Triple Alliance and its cohorts, as your communication of April 12th states.

In the time that you've been here in your capacity as Senior pro temps this is what you have accomplished since April 19th! You have gathered ministers, summoned administrators, questioned church fathers and others, held council with my accusers; finally on Jubilation Sunday, April 22nd, after the midmorning church service - in the name of a church visitation - you wanted to hold an administrators' meeting and then at 7 PM a meeting of the congregation when you had previously (on April 12th, etc.) dismissed church administrators and congregation and accepted the report of the rabble Triple Alliance!

We could not allow ourselves to be regulated and dominated by your Reverence and the rabble Triple Alliance in such an improper and insipidly secret police-like beginning. For this reason the trustees closed the church to you on April 22nd out of the need to preserve their rights as citizens, in order to protect themselves and the entire congregation so that your police-like activities would not procede as smoothly and as finely as they might have it.

Since you could not achieve regulation and control of the congregation and my pastorate through this means, the caucus, called together by the above-named rabble Triple Alliance and other party-goers among whom were some curious and some hostile congregation members, had to be held yesterday evening, April 22nd, in the college. I refused to participate for these reasons:

I declare this caucus to be a presumptuous and rabble-driven operation on your part and thus I will draft an accusation against you with the Synod because of the unconscionable and wanton malpractice of your administrative and supposedly supervisory office pro temps; malpractice, which is similar to that of a domineering church police, is the term which comes to mind — like that which we recognized in 1836 with the united church police. (Luke 23,5.)

I hereby accuse you of being a shatterer of Christian brotherly manners, order and honorability because you (contrary to our First Synodal Letter, Page 6 and in the following) have perturbed and negated the peaceful Christian activity of the church administration in parish and congregational matters, or at least tried to absorb and negate it. Under the guise of offering instruction to the church administration and inquiring into matters of conscience you wanted to fill them with delusion about, for example, church hierarchy and the legitimate signing of the protest against your assembly!

Thus I also accuse you of being in league with

*)Remark from March 27th in which you say: "I can not allow you to call the judgment (of five ministers) a faulty one!!" Such "Respect" for human time I gladly grant you, but you will not grant it to me.


Go on to Pages 12 - 17


Photocopy of the text provided by the Yale Divinity Library, New Haven, Ct.

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks,