Clarifications on the General Meeting held by the Synod of Buffalo by Johann An. A. Grabau
Pages 23 - 28


II. Verdict concerning the current comportment in office by the Senior pro temps (Wolläger), whether he was justified on April 19th for calling a ministerial assembly in Buffalo and whether the ministerial assembly was legitimate!

III. Concerning the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the suspension of Pastor Grabau on April 22, 1866.

IV. Election of a new Senior Minister.

V. The hearing concerning doctrine. — Whether the verdict of the Church Ministry of March 8th was grounded (!) or false and whether the verdict contained false doctrine?

VI. The hearing over the two letters of complaint by Rohr and Hochstetter.

Let one see here that the Synod was called due to the last two points of February 26th and also that the ministery scandal of April 19th had subsumed these and relegated them beneath points I, II and III.

Thus the first position was put in place: "Who may judge doctrine?" Answer: Only those who had cleansed themselves of false doctrine! However had the church ministry or Hochstetter cleansed themselves thus far. — hence the above doctrine stands. Also in other matters can one, who has been absolved of the propagation of false doctine and now acts as accuser of such, be an active member of the Synod. — As one of our deputies put it, it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

The truth would be suffocated by it, it was said (Rohr). In the last matter (Hochstetter's) we have the doctrine of holy office and the question: who here has the office and the vocation *) [1] to judge doctrine? — Yet another sophism! Thus Hochstetter's case entered the realm of church administrative matters and we had not been called here to discuss Hochstetter's case in terms of doctrine from the pulpit but to determine whether I or the church ministry had engaged in false doctrine since March 8th of this year.

Once again things were stifled by the call for a majority vote. The case would stand on the docket because only 7 pastors and 6 deputies voted that the decision was just while the others voted that it was unjust. This suppression for the sake of majority vote was sold to us under the name of "Freedom of the Council to regulate the proceedings," — "to which Pastor Grabau should surrender for the sake of love and peace." [Are you listening?]

In regard to this matter see the 7th Synodal Letter, page 50 where it states:
"All provisions should be made to ensure that pure doctrine, proper faith, Christian discipline, etc. will prevail." And on page 2: The freedom of the council pertains to this, that it may oversee the proper examination of all matters in the course of its proceedings. I was thus convinced at the time that matters of doctrine must continue:
1) In accordance with the example of the Council in Acts of the Apostles 15, where first doctrine, then other matters were taken in hand.
2) In accordance with the example of the Council of Nicea (324 AD), where first doctrine, then matters of church procedure were considered.
3) In accordance with the Council of Constantinople (375 AD) where first doctrine and then other matters were decided and so with all other ancient councils.
4) In doctrine rests the working unity of the Church according to the 7th Article of the Augsburg Confession. Thus matters of doctrine must precede, otherwise true unity and peace may not exist.*) [2.]
5) Teachings examine the honor of God, the other merely concerns human transactions.
6) The schism due to doctrine has arisen since January 25th and since that time an unbroken series of crimes have been perpetrated against me; since matters commenced due to doctrine they must be settled in conjunction with it.
7) The belligerent ministerial transactions of April 19th through 24 are the result of the

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[1.] *) Comment - Notice how this new group places the emphasis on holy office and vocation! Return to text

[2.] *)Article 29 of the Augsburg Confession, page 39 - "The office of bishop is to preach the gospel, to judge in matters of doctrine — to expel the Godless, etc. Return to text


false doctrine of the Church Ministry and this must be brought to light; from this the gangster-like activities of my congregation came to power, resulting in the power play with regard to the college by my accusers and the three Rohr trustees. Everything else can only be understood when it is based in doctrine.

For this I was publicly scorned (by Rohr) as I desired or thought that I must first bring the matter to light before the Synod based on pure doctrine! Truth and justice would be suppressed through this scorn. Even so this suppression did not seem sufficient:

Thus it was decided I should prove that it was a sin, to begin at the end and the reasons behind it, that is to inquire into Hochstetter's (justified) dismissal from the church. To this end I proceeded to prove that it was a sin and commenced from that point, that is I allowed myself to recount the justification based on matters of doctrine, for the sake of which I was first accused and for the sake of which the Church Ministry itself now stood in error!

However this was stifled by libelous assertion and illusion. In matters of procedure the vote of the majority must decide. I declared this assertion untrue (7th Synodal Letter, page 7b), therefore I could not accept the call for majority vote through which proper insight would be suppressed in all matters.

So the first day ended.

On the second day, May 29th, time was spend in a similar tug of war. Our two Synodal deputies and I declared that we had appealed before no examining ministerial or interim panel in March of this year (namely that of April 19th through 23rd) but had appealed to the Synod with regard to the doctrine and conduct in ministerial office of Pastor Grabau. I was brought before it like a criminal because of the opposition of this ganster-like Church Ministry and because I did not come to their meeting held on April 19th and accept their suspension and I willfully committed a breach of promise with regard to the sermon! (See above.)

This was seized upon and the drama performed so that they could insert their "Number 1" into the program, that is, to suppress the matters of doctrine and replace them. Wolläger wished to prove that his ministerial meeting was not a gang event; unfortunately the proof worked against him. He brought forth examples of my earlier conduct in ministerial office, which accomplished nothing. Thus the second day accomplished no other task than to place the Hochstetter matter into the Number 1 spot.

The Third Day - Wednesday, May 30th

On this day, May 30th, I brought a letter with me in order to tell them why I didn't come. The following lines were read aloud:

"Christ, Our Lord, said in John 19: I am a king, to this I was born and came into the world, that I might deliver the truth and who is of the truth will hear my voice.

"On the truth and God's teachings through Christ, his prophet and the apostles the unity and true solidarity of the Christian Church is established. Thus we are not guests among strangers but citizens with the Holy Spirit. Thus we are all servants to Christian faith and love and members of God's household, built on the firmament of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.

"By this the holy church is united through holy truth. And within it there is freedom, as Christ says in John 8: As you abide by my word so shall you be my proper children and recognize the truth and the truth shall set you free. There are no more councils of the free where one may force us to comply through a majority vote to handle other matters.

"In such councils one no longer sees proper love of the truth of God, who is the judge of all and must remain. In contrast the love of truth has been abandoned, and


"powerful errors will follow from the obscuring of God, whereby men believe lies and are seduced into injustice, 2 Thessalonians 2.

"God's wrath shall be manifest against all men's injustice, which steeps truth in injustice, Romans 1. Thus I consider all the attempts of the Synod a heretical and imperious regimental proceeding by which true, gospel-based, church authority has fallen; I consider this effort a dark and human act of cunning to carry out human plans and intentions, in particular the intention to shadow the true nature of things by a departure from doctrine.

"I refer to my Christian composition titled "Towards an Understanding of Church Authority in the Year 1860" as it developed from the Word of God to become a model for the church of righteous faith. This gospel-based church authority must fall when one digresses into such human machinations as we have seen here."

Our Christian trustees were heard this day, the printed pamphlet concerning Hochstetter's withdrawal from the church was read, questions of inquiry were placed before them, synodal letters were introduced, the question was posed as to whether peace could or should be made. There was a warning concerning a false peace. Peace must stand on truth and justice otherwise it is a white devil. Outcry against the trustees: Offender! Casting out a preacher! This must be settled! Then reconcilation can begin! The law must be upheld! and necessary justice! There must be a judge! There must be repentance! Grabau should not call Wolläger a thief! He should recognize the basis for the suspension! The trustees should recognize their offense, Pastor Grabau should acknowledge the hatred and violation of the church ministry! It was maintained that each must be able to believe in conscience that he had been treated justly! (The Rohr Lie.) Thus it was cried out five times: Offense, Offense, etc!

I repeated a speech of reconciliation in the face of these inane exaggerations and excesses, namely the coverup of the current insults in the well of excuses and foregiveness. Principle questions could become contingencies when irrationality and transgression in individual circumstances were covered up with love, as was the case in the Apology in 1 Peter 4. If it is not possible to conceal all error and it is impossible to make peace with renewed fraternal examination in all matters, then things must begin with doctrine. The further things are from justice, from truth, from peace, from healthy agreement in individual cases, there the need for human church discipline arises. Things must first be seen in terms of doctrinal unity, without which evangelical verdict cannot proceed.

This was once again stifled; it was screamed at me by Döhler that doctrine concerning the efficacy of God's Word (efficacia verbi divini) was well known! Answer: So? Should I now give my justification for it? Isn't this justification already known? Pastor Grabau should acknowledge sinful acts and that would replace the vote whether peace can be made? Only the judges' voices were heard: We can absolve no sins which we do not acknowledge, etc. The trustees did not need their justice! Answer: What is this justice which one doesn't need? And who can preserve his need for justice from those who would nullify it, that is, from a gangster church ministry which mistreats the pastor and the church administrators and attempts to devastate the congregation? The morning and part of the afternoon were expended in such point and counterpoint but finally a peace was negotiated through the following resolutions:
1) Removal of the suspension (which Pastor Grabau had not recognized) based on the fact that its reasoning may have contained injustices.
2) Lifting of the dismissal of Deacon Hochstetter from the Church based on the reasoning of the church administration and trustees with the acknowledgement that there may have been erroneous judgment involved in deciding what was sinful.
3) Brotherly inspection of both sides of the issues without which


the subsequent hostile activities would not not have taken place. There should have been fraternal dialog concerning all points of dissention and everything should have been treated fairly. The result would not have led to such hostile acts.

To that end the trustees and Pastor Grabau were entreated to open the church up as a sign of love for peace, so that evening church services could be held.

The trustees did so with the clarification, "Yes, if this is to be a proper peace," and they wanted the pastor to appoint someone to preach.

Thus followed the church service on Wednesday evening, May 30th in the church.

The Fourth Day - Thursday, May 31st

New shadows were cast over this "fraternal dialog" by a vehement and unbridled Rohr, who stirred up both sides against one another. There should again be a "Synodal Court" and a "disciplinary hearing", etc., etc., created and held! In opposition to Rohr, I convinced them that brotherly dialog to the furtherance of clear understanding and fair treatment should prevail and no synodal hearing should be held; rather the results of the synod should be upheld. My declaration as well as my proposal for a peace commission were accepted. This peace commission was to be assembled on Friday, June 1st.

Of the colorful goings-on of the fourth day there would be many things to mention: that Hochstetter again gave a speech in defense of his honor! Wolläger wanted to justify his behavior here; in his (evil) meanderings he was supported by Zeumer and Hochstetter (and Brand) and then by Hochstetter, Grollmitz and Becker. He states that I had inflicted my authority upon him and in this spirit had called him a chief of police! He wanted his place in the ministry supported, his decision to suspend me upheld and his actions to be justified, including his meeting in the college of April 22nd and 23rd where he gave his support to the ministerial gang, whom he called the Trinity congregation and through whom he wanted to establish the force behind the suspension. All these things should not be sins, including Hochstetter's investiture in this gang whereby he split the congregation into those who recognized the suspension and those who didn't! — What had happened on April 28th and 29th (see above), he said, Pastor Grabau interpreted according to his own fashion!! [and still he could do nothing to refute it! the entire group of church administrators were called as witnesses to the correctness of my interpretation.]

Finally he came forward with that which cast a shadow over all attempts at peace:

It had never been his understanding "that the parish church administration had to stand before the church court." And why not, if they had done something wrong and had aligned themselves with the so-called church ministry! For example, when they became mutineers, left the church, served the gang, would heed no warning, and acknowledged Deacon Hochstetter as their pastor, and did not listen to or accept the admonition of the church chairman on April 27th? — Wolläger insinuated, "The baptized childen should not judge their pastor!" This was supposed to mean that the church chairman and the trustees should never exercise their right to justice against the wayward Deacon Hochstetter! Indeed no one in the world may exercise his right to justice against Deacon Hochstetter if he happened to be a child of Baptism! Could anyone who had not been baptized? — Wollaeger and Hochstetter's mutinous separate church service in the college on April 29th should now be completely vindicated! Rumbling clouds overshadowing peace. In short - with Wolläger there was no sin to be found; all bad doctrine provides its own shield - "It is ever so that when the church ministry assembles, it is proper and it is also a proper church court!!! How thoroughly papist!

In the afternoon another church disciplinary session [!] was called for [concerning me and the trustees]. A Peace Commission - what did this have to do with the desired results! Rohr set forth a reservation.

Prof. Winkler clarified: There are currently two opposing lines of thought in the synod! One is gospel based, the other based on form - and human drive! Americanized procedures to follow in office and


concepts of authority! Deliberations concerning doctrine are needed in order to see if we can span "the mighty gap" [created by Rohr]!

A little book by the Church Authorities opposing formalism (Here we have the sword, the lance, and the court battle) was occasionally refered to by Rohr as he insinuated that I had said that I may have judged him too harshly! Is this not true! I had only said that I should have suffered it more patiently!
Pastor Müller: "Two warrior camps bespeak a sorrowful circumstance!
Leemhuis: The bitterness in these differences of opinion should be cast out!
A. Burk: Three things brought about the peace - the removal of the suspension, the reinstatement and the acceptance of the Peace Commission.
Then it was reiterated, "Synodal verdict, disciplinary decision, church examination"; there was discussion of "the cowardice of the synod" with regard to Pastor Grabau! And so the Peace Commission was accepted. Thus ended the fourth day - with the eclipsing of peace!

The Fifth Day - Friday, June 1st

The Peace Commission was elected by majority vote, apparently a party decision. The members of the ministerial gang dispersed themselves among them. I myself knew on Wednesday that they all thought I was guilty, (where I declared that I could have borne all manner of accusation more patiently,) and the opposition party was guilty of nothing! The hatred and scorn for me, the church administration and my congregation grew ever greater. My attempts at reconcilation and gospel-based advice on peace were misconstrued and the Christian community here was deceived. It was apparent when I said, "Within these walls we attempt each day to build peace, but in the outside world the war has waged against me." People began to horribly slander school teacher Stiemke. Hateful and mutinous Hochstetter was represented by these war mongers as an innocent man as exampled by Rohr's mouthpiece with regard to June 1st to July 1st of this year. I had heard little from him in the Synod, when he made known his dreadful sins. I had hoped to see more of his sins brought before the Peace Conference, but he never brought forth the major issues - that he was sorry he had begun such sullied open warfare against me. I still hadn't perceived this in others (namely Rohr) either. Hochstetter continued to speak only of this honor and he busied himself with disputations about it. A poor example of his love of peace! He spouted poetry as one who stood for everything just and he made spurious remarks on my character while remaining blind to his own faults. This defense of his honor could only serve to break the peace. There was no basis for peace to be found in his disputation. I had to ask all brothers that we hold a day of heartfelt repentance and the point should be brought forth that we had done harm to ourselves with the war we had waged. If anyone had something against me, let him not be controlled by his frame of mind but rather let us acknowledge ourselves as one heart and soul bearing pain for having begun a war and continuing to do so. For God's Sake let us attempt peace in this heartfelt spirit, lest we find no peace."

Further it was added, "If we wish to attempt peace while pursuing our miserable path of disputation and justice for the sake of individual honor the wrath of God will surely awaken against us." Thus the mutilated army of Christ could not be brought back together except for the path that I proposed in all humility. Peace could not be established on individual honor and self-seeking justice because "the fruit of justice comes from peace."

The fact that no peace had been achieved thus far rested in the fact that we had not from the outset accepted Christian teachings from which all church and Christian love and unity flowed. I was reminded of some tenet of church discipline but that accomplished nothing to turn the current reason for the synod from physical to spiritual matters. I bade them once again to accept teachings and to maintain them as a mandate for the peace conference.


The remaining differences of opinion could be handled in the next synod.

After this the peace commission was elected. Its goal should be:
1) The unification of the disputing parties.
2) It should acknowledge the remaining differences of opinion and make its own decision in the matter.
3) The results of its deliberation should be brought before the synod.
4) What could not be united and resolved should be tabled until the next synod so as not to stir up hostile activity.

The Sixth Day - Saturday, June 2nd

On this day the deputies were not present. Only the pastors were there and ministerial matters were discussed, for example 1) whether the deed to the college land should be altered, 2) how much the synod owed for song books, 3) Pastor Huschmann's proposal to be admitted into the synod, 4) the vote to elect Wahlmodus to the post of new senior minister.

The Seventh Day - Monday, June 4th

On this day everything that had been dealt with on May 28th through June 1st was written down: the first dealt with where doctrine had been neglected. Things were written down concerning the trustees, what they should answer for and acknowledge as sins after the inquiry of the synod, which inquiries did not take place! My protest against the vain attempt at the "acknowledgement of the sins" of the trustees and the protest that more must be heard about this. It was further written down how the Senior pro temps had asked the synod to answer five questions,
1) whether the church administation was an ecclestiastic court of law even over the pastor? *)[1.]
2) whether and to what extent Becker and Grollmitz had acted contrary to their duties in that they, along with Hochstetter, had called for a ministerial assembly of inquiry without the sanction of their pastor.
3) whether Pastor Wollaeger had committed an injustice by holding a ministerial assembly in Buffalo on April 19th before the synod?
4) whether the grounds for the suspension could in the all conscience be binding, [in whose conscience] was it deemed justified and consequently administered?
5) whether the Senior pro temps was right in continuing to uphold it; in as much as Pastor Grabau did not accept the suspension, was he handled with threats and coercion, namely that on the 22nd and 23rd of April the meeting in the Martin Luther College was held in order to bring force to the suspense and on April 29th (Cantate Sunday) the separate church service was held with all those present who had acknowledged the suspension of Pastor Grabau! "With regard to the inquiry into Point 1 it was demonstrated that the hearts were not in unison and many misunderstandings prevailed over the breaking of the peace." The peace commission was proposed and elected as has been communicated above.

The Eighth Day - June 5th

Our Christian trustees appeared and gave clarification for their May 30th response; namely they testified: We said nothing *) [2.] rather Brother Hahn answered for us" "We revoke the dismissal of Deacon Hochstetter from the church under the condition that the suspension of our pastor also be revoked and that he be reinstated as director of the college. On that point Pastor von Rohr once again said to us, 'then the loving church fathers could open up the church to us this evening so that we could hold church service.' To this we replied, 'Yes, we would like to do this if it is a true peace and our pastor could appoint the person, who would give the sermon.' We said nothing further, and certainly not that we had unjustly dismissed Deacon Hochstetter from the church or that we had anything to answer for." *) [3.]

Now judgements were let loose with the proposal of Pastor Peter Brandt, who expressed the point that the synod must deliver verdict on various points of contention

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[1.]*) Comment - Someone noticed how the terms "over" and "under" with regard to persons could be interpreted! Return to text

[2.] *) Comment - Namely to the previously asked questions. Return to text

[3.]*) Comment - This declaration of the church fathers created a great uproar in that it was maintained: the trustees had testified on Wednesday that they might have committed a sin with Hochstetter's dismissal. This is what everyone wanted to hear and what they needed to hear in this declaration. This was consistent with the human goings on of this synod in order for the party members to get Hochstetter reinstated into the church! However many others did not hear the same thing in the trustees' statement and I protested against this interpretation because it had yet to be established what was a sin and what was not. Return to text


Go on to Pages 29 - 35


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

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks,