Clarifications on the General Meeting held by the Synod of Buffalo by Johann An. A. Grabau
Pages 34 - 37


That is misuse of our synodal letter.

Further it states: the Senior Minister may demand quiet obedience from the praepositus [the person placed above him] as long as the synod has not decided otherwise. This means nothing other than that the praepositus should peacefully withhold his own opinions concerning the verdict of the Senior Minister until the synod. Throughout there is doctrine that one should render the Senior Minister or the church ministry tight-lipped obedience in all things, for example with regard to verdicts concerning doctrine. However it is quite wrong that one should have to render respectful obedience as it was desired for the sake of ministerial office. "One should not follow the bishops out of respect" but should point out the errors of the bishops and call himself before the synod so that the bishop or the ministry may also appear with his examples of doctrine. Then the bishop and all other interested parties may be content that he can present his evidence of contradiction in doctrine from a pastor when the time for the synod arrives. Thus it says in the 7th Synodal Letter, page 61: "Obedience may not be afforded merely for the sake of station or respect but out of the desire for the light of pure doctrine," as "it is also taught in the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession."

Further it is stated on page 49: "The Senior Minister has the freedom, that is the right, to assemble his closest-neighboring brothers in office in the church ministry as committee members and hold council with them," and as it also states on page 77: "Committee members of the ministry, with whom he weekly or occasionally assembles." Here nothing is stated concerning his travelling here and there and above all assembling committees wherever he travels. Rather it pertains to where he lives. Only there may he assemble his closest neighboring brothers in office and conduct a meeting of the ministry. Least of all does it state that he should travel there, assemble accusers again a pastor and form a sectarian committee and with them hold a proper and just Christian assembly of the ministry. Such actions and behavior are dreadful examples of misconduct and a misuse of our synodal letter. Finally it states on page 50: All publications shall be adjudged for pure doctrine, true faith, Christian discipline, etc. Peace and agreement and the propagation of the pure teachings of Christ shall be afforded; in summation "the benefit and not the ruination of the church. Herein lies the sense of our church regimen." However here in Buffalo from the 19th to the 23rd of April only the church's ruination has been worked for by Wollaeger and his ministry and it was his doing that brought about the blind misuse of our synodal letter.

Further Misuse of our Synodal Letters

In our 1st Synodal Letter, page 6 (which is related to the 7th Letter, page 49) it is stated word for word: "We shall have a church ministry, which shall have full authority over our entire church and subsequently over each individual congregation. Thus each congregation has
1.) its own district church council,
2.) a church ministry of assembled pastors
3.) the synod of assembled district churches where they may call for Christian counsel and necessary assistance."

Thus we have to consider that with regard to this church ministry, that is, in its relationship to the entire church and the individual congregations, it has yet to establish or communicate anything concrete. To this point one has yet to consider anything other than mere form. Only after the sense of proper church regimen is accomplished can we work towards the benefit of the church rather than its ruination.

Further it states here that each congregation through its district church committee shall seek guidance and assistance from the entire church ministry of assembled pastors. Instead here we had


only 5 or 7 pastors. Others were forbidden to give judgment.

Further it states that each congregation, which can not find counsel and assistance from its ministerial council, should seek assistance from the synod of assembled Eastern Churches. It does not state that when the call for a synod has been made and accepted, a church ministry made up of 5 or 7 ministers shall decide among themselves and force upon others their Inquisition-like assistance (as happened on April 19th).

This is a misuse of our Synodal Letter, which will only lead to the ruination of our church.

Question: Whether or not to begin with doctrine?

According to Brother Ziemer's recollection we find it necessary to report here about whether one should begin with doctrine, from which the dispute originated, or start with the subsequent battles. The false synod wanted to deal with what followed the dispute over doctrine on the pretext that one must first negate the hostility and reconcile and further that one must also know who has a place and a vote here to legitimately cast judgment upon teachings. We considered this pietistical deception and very dangerous. In all Christian synods it has always been deemed necessary to first examine the dispute in doctrine, which led to everything else. Pure teachings and proper faith must stand above all else according to page 55 of the 7th Synodal Letter and each cause must take precedence over its consequence. Thus the dispute over teachings must precede what ensued. But this all too human synod publicly attempted nothing other than to justify Hochstetter. This made it all the better for fishing in dark waters because the precedent dispute in doctrine could not shed light on Hochstetter's excesses. Thus honor was not cast upon the living God but upon the Hochstetter conspirators. Thus the excessive and horribly unjust suspension of Pastor Grabau would receive no thought. Such a state of affairs is contempt for all the laws of God and man.

It is all the more a misuse of our synodal letter in that it expressly states (7th Letter, page 4) the council shall be an assembly of such men gathered by the Holy Spirit. These should be men who are learned and steeped in the Word of God, properly ordained by the church, brought together in the Name of Jesus, in order to represent the true faith in disputes concerning faith, in questions concerning customs and practices of the church, etc. They are assembled to clarify the proper meaning of Holy Scripture, to establish unity in faith and to prevent schism and heresy. Here it states that proper teachings and controversies concerning matters of faith are dealt with first. All other matters come afterwards. Thus it is unjust and improper that the council has the freedom to arrange the order in which it handles matters, to haphazardly bring all matters together, to take the last things first and the first things later and them to decide matters by a majority vote. This stands in opposition to the 7th Synodal Letter, page 7 which states that the council must determine matters through general agreement (not majority vote), with attention to the proper intention in all things, with a prescribed ordering or lining up of the things to be dealt with and as it states on page 4, everything must be discussed, answered, clarified and executed in proper order. It also states on page 7 that the council must reject all human presumptions, claims, threats and powerplays, as we have already seen them here.

Further it states on page 4: Things must be handled in a Christian manner in the Synod according to the prescripts of our ancestors - matters of teaching, sacrament, church service, proper attitude, Holy Scripture, clarification of schisms within the Christian community must be dealt with first and then occasions of quarreling and hostility among servants of the church, the cares and methods of church property maintenance may be dealt with.

Herein lies sufficient proof that this corrupted synod has perverted everything out of wantonness and human ambition.


Monday, June 11th Afternoon

Deliberations on the Proper and Christian Use of Confession
or of the Office of Lutheran Trustees,
Which the Church Fathers Occupy

I.

The Secular and Christian Lutheran Trustees. The trustees in general are men of faith, who hold the public trust of the society or congregation from which they are chosen. It is impossible for the authorities or the superiors within the authority to handle each and every matter which arises from a group or congregation. Thus from each congregation men must be elected whom the superiors deem to be good representatives of the congregation. Here we have the properly chosen trustees or church fathers.Now it is known that these trustees act in accordance with the established laws of the State of New York of 1813 and represent the interests of the congregation's church property holdings. The congregation alone does not do this. This is what the law states: The trustees own, maintain and enlarge the church property for the use of said church, congregation or religious society. Now the lay trustees come in, regard the word "own" and say with this word that they are the owners and may do as they wish. This is the prevalant spirit of the American trustee. In opposition to this the Christian trustees come and say "We own and maintain it not for ourselves but for the use of said church and congregation." Here the secular and the Christian trustee differs. The secular trustees say "there it is" for the use of the church and congregation; the congregation can use it but we own it and whoever owns it can replace a minister whenever he wishes and the congregation may come in, sit it the pews and use the house. Christian trustees understand things differently and say: we own and maintain the property of the church for the use of a particular congregation in its practice of faith and profession through which they exist as a Christian community. They may also appoint no other minister than that who is allied with the faith and profession of the Christian congregation and whom the congregation wishes to have, that is, one who is chosen by the congregation. Christian faith and profession bind the church committee and the congregation together not in a fashion where one lords over the other but in a manner of proper Christian service of church fathers and committee to congregation. The Lutheran church fathers and committee men know well that according to the Schmalkaldian Articles at the very least the closest residing pastor must be present and choices must be made with his agreement and advice and then carried out in an orderly fashion. Every Lutheran Christian respects proper church regimentation. On the other hand secular trustees merely contract the services of a minister for one to a few years with or without the consent of the congregation.

II.

It is certainly in the manner of secular trustees or church fathers to take upon themselves a certain degree of power or authority without the duty to maintain the church property for the use of said church or congregation of a particular profession. From this frame of mind it follows that they appoint or dismiss their minister or pastor according to a sense of popularity or opportunity, seeking and appointing another one who is popular, taking him in and training him as though he's a piece of rental property. We have, for example, the case of the Johannisburg Trustees of 1859 where they acknowledged no duty towards their pastor or towards their denomination but rather drove their denominational pastor out and took in a minister from the Missouri mutineers, thus creating a new and different church. In the course of events it basically followed that the church ministry and synod were no longer heard from and everything was cast aside. —

On the other hand we have the Christian order of things, which is quite different in that the trustees assume the duty as prescribed by the church fathers and are charged not to succumb to hatred and distance themselves from the pastor or


deacon but rather to maintain their post and hold fast to their duty towards the church, live in peace with it and allow everything to flow honorably and orderly. And if a misunderstanding arises they should not secretly side with the pastor or deacon but seek advice from the nearest neighboring pastor or from the church ministry. If this cannot be accomplished they should honorably seek the synod and lay all matters before it, thereby doing their duty as true church fathers, lending protection and blessing to the entire congregation and preserving it from ruination. So great is the duty of the trustees and church fathers; they must exercise their office according to the law in a Christian manner to maintain the property of the church for the use of their congregation.

III

Concerning the role of the Deacon *) [1.] in the church, or a co-adjutor, (as defined in the Pommeranian Church Order, page 26) we read the following proper,evangelical words: The Pastor should comport himself as a brother to his coadjutor in accordance with the precepts of Christ; whoever is the greater shall be the servant of the other, helping him to the utmost of his ability, teaching, assessing and correcting him in love and good temper. In turn coadjutors shall not rise up against the pastor nor shall they create disharmony within the church or faction against the pastor. Rather they shall humbly submit to him as their elder statesman, be obedient to him in matters of church order, and diligently see to and carry out their appointed posts.

In all things should the pastors and ministers maintain their holy offices in fear of God as commanded so frequently by St. Paul. They should work for the fortification rather than the corruption of the church. They should paternally avoid all unnecessary bitterness, false teaching, sin and vice, zealously punish in order to ameliorate and diligently maintain spiritual unity in the cause of peace.

Here one sees: that the deacon stands in the same position as a Christian church father in that the office of deacon is derived from the position of first church father (Acts VI). Things do not stand well for a deacon when he operates maliciously behind the back of his pastor with other ministers and persons rather than in concordance with him. Things do not stand well for him when his understanding is not in alignment with that of his pastor; for example, when a church ministry is secretly called upon to become an Inquisition. By this means the bonds of peace are destroyed, love crumbles and bitterness evolves. Such a deacon sins greivously when he joins in mutinous communion with committees or church fathers in disassociation with his pastor. In the end he must meet with the repugnance of right-thinking church fathers and committee members since he presents to them a bad example. One may call this mutinous and rabble-rousing behavior against the pastor *) [2.] Such would be the case whenever the pastor acted similarly in his post.

IV
On protecting Office, which the Current Trustees or Church Fathers have initiated through the Law of Authority

The question concerning this office has become a burning issue for us and much is contingent upon it's answering, for example with regard to the relationship of the church ministry, the deacon, the pastor, the church committee and the church fathers and trustees.

All matters impinge upon each other to the point where nothing can be easily separated out. We must speak of past experiences so all Christians are clear if, for example, a deacon accuses his pastor or false teachings.

_____

[1.] *)Comment - It has been erroneously maintained by Mr. Hochstetter that as Deacon he has the same rights and responsibilities as the pastor within the district church. All our church legislation disproves this and it was with this legislation in mind that he was appointed in July 1857: He does not have the same rights and responsibilities as the pastor. In particular the pastor has the right and responsibility of reminding and admonishing the deacon about his ministry just as the Saxon-Coburg Church Legislation shunned the electors on page 160: Pastors themselves should be in the church whenever the deacons preach so that they may hear them and at the same time ascertain the degree of diligence with which the deacons preach, whether they are studying what they should, using doctrine correctly, putting their sermons in good order, teaching in a coherent fashion, etc. And if they are lacking in one field or another, giving friendly advice, instructing, admonishing them for their improvement and subsequently paying heed to them and not neglecting them. In another place on page 6 of the 1st Synodal Letter,only where it discusses the constitution of the church, does it state: current and future pastors and deacons have the same rights and responsibilities in forming the church ministry; that is, that publically they [the deacons] have their places and voting rights in the church ministry just as do the pastors; however they do not have the same position and rights as the pastors within the church and congregation. Return to text

[2.]*) Comment - As it is also stated in the Pommeranian Church Order, page 78 of the old edition, where it should be decided by the servants of the church whether they themselves should confront their superintendent or present proposals privately or publically or make use of Dathan and Abiram's other brothers. [A biblical reference to Numbers 16.] Return to text


Go on to Pages 38 - 41


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

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks,