rabble Triple Alliance, which negated Christian congregational and parochial justice, and through the political means of calling for a caucus sought to lead the Christian congregation back to the days of papist blind obedience by your interdiction, like the wolf and the thief in John 10,10. May God send you his retribution!
J. An. A. Grabau, Pastor.
On April 23 in this insane litigious spirit brought about by my two accusers, Rohr and Hochstetter, there came Döhler and two farmers; Bergholz College trustees wanted to secure my removal from the Directory of the College and this was called for in the name of the Synod. After Brother Vermehr's testimony Rohr pronounced "that in order to comply with the property laws it was necessary to assist the trustees with the removal."
We, the church administration, the congregation and I, saw that we were being supplanted by this ministerial manipulation of parochial and school matters and I saw things in a whole new light. The main revelation concerned the bold advancement of a domineering ministerial power, which trampled our recourse to the Synod underfoot. The church administration registered protest that they did not recognize my suspension on April 23rd and on other days. Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock Hochstetter began the church ministry sanctioned schism. Behind my back he took away six, and then ten, of my students being prepared with Confirmation instruction and took them to his house to receive instruction. This was done to set my suspension in motion! Even the children to be confirmed detested the Hochstetter rabble rousers! On the same day letters concerning the suspension, which was based on six false reasons (for example, disobedience to the church ministry), were sent to pastors of the United Synod in order to lend credence to the new ministerial authority and firmly establish its leadership before the approaching Synodal meeting. To summarize — we, the Christian church administration, the congregation and I were strung along like puppets within the new authority, cast out into the land and put on display like criminals. The final plan was put in place: the suspension would be read in a public meeting of the congregation on Jubilation Sunday evening at the Martin Luther College. A packed house was called a congregational meeting! I was compared to a rabble rouser. When we asked for an explanation of what a rabble rouser was we received the answer: Anyone who contradicts rabble ministerial authority and seeks recourse from the Synod is a rabble rouser. Until then we thought that a rabble rouse was one, who for his petulence and derision was brought forth by his pastor, and one, who rejected the true teachings and properly established order of the church and Synod. Were we such people? — but here we had a new authority and new concepts!
This new rabble rousing ministerial authority would have been glad if we had protested against them with mere words rather than deeds but Christian conscience must advance in such times as well as Christian deeds as long as the united rabble and papist force oppressed. This new authority would have been glad if we hadn't raised a finger against Hochstetter and its evil and fanatical agents. It was clear to us that he had become the executor of their power against the congregation. When he wanted to be the deacon of our church, or pretended to be the deacon, he was actually working towards something completely different!
While we were fully justified in opposing this new authority, Hochstetter and Wollaeger felt otherwise. From the beginning Hochstetter had worked to slice off a separate church from our congregation. Both the hierarchical church ministry and the rabble rouser Hochstetter had publicly attempted with their schism the ruination of our congregation, which we had to oppose with all due force. Is it still our duty to abide a deacon who left the church four weeks ago and set up his own counter-church? We though it reasonable to warn him one more time.
This happened in a letter sent by our Christian trustees in response to one sent by Hochstetter on April 27th. He wanted (after the suspension of our pastor!) to regain the pulpit for himself and other ministers, thus he called for signatures from his cohorts or gang. Upon deliberation of the church administration the trustees replied to them with the following on April 28th:
This letter was sent to Mr. Hochstetter in response to his earlier correspondence on Saturday morning, the 28th of April. After this happened, Wolläger offered a gesture in truce to our trustees; he came with his contingent into the parsonage and it was agreed that morning that we would meet again in the afternoon.
The church administration, our congregation and Professor Winkler assembled in the afternoon. In accordance with Wolläger's request and in accordance with the previous discussion, the framework for a peaceful settlement was set forth, bound within the tenets of our Christian faith as set forth in 1 Peter 4, 8: Love covers a multitude of sins. Among the items in this agreement was this major point: each of us felt justified in our positions and much had taken place as a result which may not be justified in the eyes of God, therefore our current sense of love and reconciliation must cover our sins, thereby canceling whatever circumstances and emergencies had arisen between us. In the evening further progress would be made and Deacon Hochstetter would come and clarify his position. In this spirit of peace we, pastor and deacon, could officiate within the church, each according to his assignment and thus go before the Synod in peace and friendship. An announcement of this peace treaty would be made on the following day, which was a Sunday, in the church. This evening the terms of the truce would be finished with Wolläger being the first to show it to Hochstetter and Zeumer!
When they returned in the evening everything was revoked by Wolläger and Hochstetter; he was not in agreement with it and could not sign it! In response he wanted to hold yet a third ministerial meeting from which all, with the exception of Rohr and Hochstetter, as my accusers, would be excluded. Our church administrators would also be allowed to stay. We were now supposed to acknowledge that the last ministerial meeting had been properly and correctly handled and in this new meeting we were to accept the righteous verdict of the church ministry! This was supposed to be a peace conference! The church administrators and church fathers could express their opinions, the court would again hang suspended, still proving that they would countermand all attempts at peaceful assembly. Such officious ministerial behavior by these men could not be tolerated. Pastor Grabau was supposed to accept the suspension until the meeting of the Synod and listen to the grounds for it at this peace conference. Answer: Hearing matters out is one thing, accepting them quite another. Along with acceptance of this suspension Wolläger added: it would be good if on Cantate Sunday, April 29th, Pastor Grabau were to
refrain from giving the sermon because both he and Hochstetter could not give it, as if that sermon would be the same.
The response of Pastor Grabau: I can do that in proof of my love for peace but not in the sense of accepting the suspension.
Then Wolläger proposed, "We, Hochstetter and I, will come to the church and let someone else hold the church service in order to avoid the appearance of intented schism." Unfortunately it was not an apparition but a true schism based on acceptance or rejection of the suspension, which had torn apart the congregation. Hochstetter spoke these words: Trying to avoid the appearance of intented schism was a horrible cover-up of previous sins. He wanted to deliver the sermon himself. At this I responded that things must be done in accordance with the edict of the church administration as delivered on April 17th, therefore I should give the sermon. Hochstetter replied: He might not be permitted by the church ministry to visit a church service where he couldn't give a sermon. He would travel to Batavia this evening. And that is what he did! With this the promise we had made to go to the church together had been broken. Thus the meeting closed and at its conclusion the church administrators feared with some justification that this had been a trick or a false attempt at peace - if it had been a true peace effort in a new ministerial meeting the ministerial court would have cross-examined itself; instead it once again attacked us and scarcely acknowledged our interpretation of its decision!!
Early Sunday I came to the conclusion that I should deliver the sermon not just because of Hochstetter's absence but also because of Wolläger's presence; I did not accept either the absence of one or the presence of the other, but this much I could do. From the pulpit I read the lesson from the Lutheran Church prayerbook. I had scarcely mounted the pulpit when twenty to twenty-five of the rabble ministerial lackeys walked out of the church to the general annoyance of the Christian congregation. After the lesson I announced the offer of peace; however at 1 o'clock that afternoon I received from Wolläger a thunderous revocation of the terms of the so-called ministerial peace conference. In the afternoon I announced this revocation to the congregation. The reason behind the revocation: "I may have broken my word by giving the sermon!"
On April 30th I answered Pastor Wolläger that in accordance with his understanding of the agreement since he alone would be present I would not have to refrain from giving the sermon out of love for peace. The fact that he made such a big deal out of a mere sermon proved that he really may have been in agreement with the suspension and that he may be very angry about the failure of this artfully deployed agreement. — He shouldn't be so arrogant as to expect that I would allow myself to be silenced by his gang related activities or that I wouldn't lift a finger against him; he should have considered that in his recklessness, whereby he participated in such senior ministerial fanatacism, he might not find pleasure at the hands of the living God.
During this time (the end of April and the beginning of May) Zeumer's scandalous schismatic activities among the students at the College, who also attended the church, may be mentioned only with horror. He was warned by me and the fathers of the children but it was to no avail. For this reason I made the following announcement from the pulput on May 6th, Rogate Sunday (Mission Sunday):
thus we may be members of the church of God and the Christian Synod but not lackeys of the Senior Church Ministry. We will be obedient to the Word of God but not to him who would place himself above God's Word."
This was the second Sunday on which Wolläger and Hochstetter preached to the ministerial gang in the college in order to weaken and ruin our congregation through their Counter-Church; thus it was that Hochstetter intentionally abandoned our church, to which he had been appointed in 1857, and so it was that he broke his vows. After an unsuccessful warning had been given to him, a notification of dismissal from his post as deacon was issued by decree of the church administration in opposition to the rabble ministerial authority. It was delivered by the trustees on Monday, May 7th and it contained the same true reasons, which are shown in this printed pamphlet.
The rabble ministerial authority (which had so frivolously suspended me) raged ever more strongly against us, against the trustees in particular. They called it: the expulsion of a Lutheran preacher! We've never seen nor heard before of a preacher, who abandoned his church with such acrimony. This would no longer be tolerated or accepted. Let him be called expelled for he had done nothing less than assume the mantle of ministerial authority for himself, abandon his church and install a gang in the college!
Already earlier at the time of the Synod meeting, against my pleas and my wishes, this gangster minsterial authority had fanned the flames. Most members of the Synod had received inflammatory letters about me!
We had to suffer hatred and persecution from their agent, Hochstetter. Three of the instructors from the school were taken up in this insanity and the school children were poisoned with hatred against us, not to mention other similar horrors.
Although Hochstetter had been dismissed he served the ministerial gang outside the church. He still wanted to play the school warden. He did whatever he could to circumvent the school instructors of the congregation and he confounded not a few parents and children with a policy of obedience for the church ministry, a policy which was nothing less than blind obedience to papal authority.
Under these circumstances the congregational meeting was held on Exaudi Sunday, the 13th of May (while Hochstetter preached to the ministerial gang). The congregation heard through the proceedings about Hochstetter's abandonment of the church and about his entire course of activities since the 8th of April; it also heard a reading of the following pamphlet and it voted unanimously by standing to its feet and giving a resounding affirmation to the course of action of the church fathers, that being Hochstetter's dismissal from service to the church, withdrawal of his salary and living arrangements, and rejection of the tyrannical and gangster activities of the church ministry within the congregation while they were trying to seek redress from the Synod.
As the congregation was leaving the church the pamphlet was distributed to every member. It stated:
The church fathers and trustees of the German-Lutheran Trinity Church at Goodell and Maple Streets find it necessary to prohibit and forbid former Deacon Hochstetter from further service in said church effective from the date listed above, because he has broken the terms of his appointment, as stated in the written agreement of July 1, 1857 which had been granted by the Christian congregation through the church administration, church fathers and pastor, and he has set himself up in opposition to it.
1. Because he broke the terms of his appointment, made July 1, 1857, in which it states that he should not be the shepherd of any distinct group of the congregation and that he should not participate in any form of
schismatic activity or assemble a separate congregation for himself and serve it as pastor. Along with other individuals he has done the opposite since April 22nd. He has publicly begun to draw off a portion of our congregation through persuasion and subscription. He has performed separate church services in the Martin Luther College on Maple Street and has placed himself in opposition to the Christian congregation of this church and in opposition to the pastor and church administration. He has become a disrupter of the congregation.
2. Because he has further broken the terms of his appointment by which he was charged with the instruction of several children who have come to receive their first year of Confirmation instruction. To the contrary on the 24th of April this year he secretly took a portion of the children, who were in their second year of instruction with the pastor, to his home in order to give them separate Confirmation training. Through this he has also become a disrupter of the congregation.
3. He has placed himself in opposition to our church orders, contrary to the terms of his appointment, as of April 9th of this year through subscription in intention and deed with a mutinous secret gang, which has raised itself up against pastor and church administration to confuse and split the congregation. He has operated as informant, party-member and judge with this contingent to the detriment of the church in that he created "dissension in the parish and complaint against the pastor." Through this too he has broken the terms of his appointment.
4. In this same manner he has, as a partitionist himself, joined with other partitionists within the church ministry, whose wish it is to bring an end to the tenure of the pastor of this church (who has stood in grace before the congregation for 27 years) without waiting for a meeting of the Synod. With this he has broken the terms of his appointment.
5. We have recognized from within and without what has been issued from his camp. His performance in office is a dangerous and corrupting influence upon the quiet and peaceful continuance of this church and congregation. Because of his conversations with Pastor von Rohr since the Fall of 1865 he has intended to begin "open combat" upon the pastor for blatant malpractice. On March 22nd he declared before the administrative assembly: "We (namely he and his cohorts) have you now in our power!" This prevailing spirit and its working are dangerous for our church and congregation, and are an open breach of the terms of his appointment.
6. It was his last act, which mostly convinced us that he was a ministerial agent - without the consent or the appointment of the church administration or the congregation he appointed himself pastor of this church, after having set himself up as judge, jury and executioner along with seven other preachers in order to dispatch the pastor! He was not appointed to do all this back in 1857, thus he has broken the terms of this appointment.
This poisonous infiltration of a gangster element into our Christian community has been under way since April 22nd, orchestrated by Hochstetter and other ministers (namely Pastor von Rohr and Pastor Wollaeger of Milwaukee) and it was ordained and assisted into being at an April 19th meeting of the church ministry. This dissection was brought about by Hochstetter; thus deprived of any other legal recourse, we are forced to exercise our duty and our right to protect the pastor and the congregation and the church and as deemed necessary to dismiss Mr. Chr. Hochstetter due to the breach in the terms of his Christian vocation from all service to the German-Lutheran Trinity Church on Goodell and Maple Streets.
We further declare that we are prepared to submit to fair treatment within the Synod despite all
pernicious hardships and we are disposed to peace with the Synod for we are of its membership rather than subservient as the church ministry would have us. We know of only one form of obedience and this to the Word of God, not to that of a lesser and "exalted church court", whose highness we must obey as inferiors. (John 17, 12 - 21) (Ephesians 2, 19 - 22).
Finally we do not recognize any church hierarchy whose senior superintendants and church ministers espouse such gangster-like activity against a pastor, church administration and parish congregation in their dealings with the synod membership as had occurred since April 19th. Such activities cannot produce a true pastorate or a church administration or a congregation without subjugating its Christian membership within God's Church to revile subservience. (1 Peter 5,3; Galatians 2, 4-6.)
The Trustees of the German-Lutheran
There were still 15 days until the Synod. During that time the rabble church ministry did everything it possibly could to confuse the souls of our congregation in Buffalo partly through the furtherance of slanderous letters with accusation concerning false doctrine and criminal pastoral activities by the Senior Ministry and partly through the synodal letter, alleging the misuse of authority, the 7th in particular. In this 7th letter teaching concerning blind (peaceful) obedience by all Christians to the church ministry was turned inside out! I encountered Christians, who were so enthralled in this papist rapture by the heavenly worth of the church ministry that they considered the church ministry "their highest court," which one must obey! —*) and to this day they are still enthralled by this misguided teaching. They imagine that when this church ministry holds an assembly and something is said or decided, they must all obey. Whether the assembly is legitimate, whether the verdict is based on valid or false doctrine, these things are not to be questioned! Thus the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession was trampled under foot by the blind faithful!
For me and the Christian church administration it became ever clearer that it made no difference whether a club or a sect raised itself up in revolt in our congregation, or whether earlier the Missouri instigation caused the problem, or whether a triumvirate gang of ministerial authority (Shoemaker Henning, Hochstetter and the church ministry) founded and organized a gang. The current prevailing gang had its origins in a shoemaker's shop (Henning's), Hochstetter was their pointman and Rohr, Wollaeger and the church ministry were their leaders. Thus the party, which accused me, grew. They traveled back and forth and exchanged correspondence like a gang, especially in Buffalo where they conducted the most shameless discourses with my church children the their own homes! The poison against me permeated in the Synod. I give the following letter in example:
A certain Pastor B. writes to another distant B. (March 2, 1866).
Alas, that which is not, might yet be. All the cardinals are still candidates for the seat of Peter. Who would blame them for suggesting themselves for the job when he is finished! Forgive me for suggesting that the news for our synod, indeed for the
*)Comment - A sensible Christian woman responded on one occasion: "We haven't heard as much in the past 20 years from the revered church ministry as we've heard in the past three months.
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks,