To All Our Christian Congregations and Brothers in the Lord!
May Grace be with you and the Peace of God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Beloved in the Lord!
We hasten to compose this Fourth Synodal Letter within the timeframe which the merciful God has given us so we may deliver it to you and you may see what issues were addressed this year at our synod. May God grant his blessing on the testimony of truth in our hearts. Let it shame those who would speak evil of us.
Most of those attending the synod arrived on Saturday evening, May 21st of this year. On that same afternoon a baptisimal vesper service was held and on Sunday, May 22nd, most of the pastors and deputies came to the table of the Lord. Divine support through the word and the sacrament fortified us for the work at hand. On Sunday evening the synodal sermon, taken from Acts 20, 28 - 30 "On the fate of Jerusalem", was given by Pastor F. J. Müller of Freystadt, Wisconsin.
Early Monday, the 23rd of May at 8 AM the synod assembled in the large, new school building of the German-Lutheran Trinity Church with the following pastors and congregational representatives in attendance:
F. Reh, of Detroit and Macomb County.
Chr. Köhn, of New Bergholz.
Mart. Taute, of Freystadt.
Dan. Page, of Martinsville.
Phil. Rauch, of Eden.
H. Stäger, of Milwaukee, Cedarburg and Grafton.
Jo. Laible, of Newark.
Chr. Haseley, of New Wallmore.
Phil. Müller, of Humberstone.
The synod was opened with the song, Come Holy Spirit, Lord God, etc., a reading of the 68th Psalm and prayers. Each morning and afternoon session began with a song, a lesson from the holy scriptures and prayers presided over by the various pastors. Each session concluded with song and prayer, as has always been the custom.
The Senior Minister opened the synod with the following report before the assembled synod.
Honored and beloved brothers in the Lord!
The Synod of the 1839 Emigrant Lutherans from Prussia has once more for the fourth time assembled in the church through God's help. Our first assembly, held in June 1845, consisted of 4 pastors and 17 congregational deputies. The second was held in July 1848 with 5 pastors and 8 congregational deputies. The third in September 1851 with 7 pastors and 10 congregations deputies. This current synod counts 12 pastors and 11 congregational deputies. We sincerely regret that our beloved brother in office, Pastor Maschhop, can not be with us due to severe illness.
In the last session of 1852 our church ministry dealt with over 200 issues and documents, some of which were matters of deliberation and advisement, some of which were matters of decision based on God's word and our symbolic books and church orders. Some of these matters were difficult issues of conscience, which were settled with God's help and grace. Many of these issues have extended over to the year 1853, for example the further establishment of the Martin Luther College. Our church ministry is now segmented into eastern and western divisions, with some meeting for approximately 6 weeks in Buffalo while others assemble for a specific time in Milwaukee or Freystadt, Wisconsin. Both divisions are united in intimate fraternity and each communicates its most important and most difficult issues to the other so that whenever possible both divisions deliberate on an issue communally.
In 1851 Pastor Wier was appointed to the Christian congregation in Martinsville with the approval of the church ministry and he currently carries out that assignment. In 1852 in a similar fashion Pastor C. A. Schröer was appointed to Humberstone in Upper Canada and subsequently School Teacher Fr. Kupferschläger left his teaching assignment in Buffalo to fill an appointment there.
Also in 1852 Pastor Geo. Türk was appointed to Milwaukee and Pastor J. G. Böhm was appointed to Grafton and Cedarburg. School teacher Stowasser has gone to Cedarburg and ministerial candidate C. A. Schulze has been employed as a teacher at the parochial school in Buffalo since October 1, 1852 while at the same time continuing his preparations for appointment to the holy office. We see here the Lord's blessing as he provides teachers for our churches and schools.
Concerning the individual congregations let it be reported that they have faithfully applied themselves in true profession of their Lord, Jesus, by assisting with the spiritual building of the church of God. The congregation in Humberstone has built a parish house, improved the school and revamped the former parish house as a residence for school teachers. The congregation in Martinsville has built a parish house and school along with teachers quarters. The congregation in Macomb County near Detroit has built a new church while the congregation in New Wallmore has built a better school house and school teacher residence. The congregation in Milwaukee has purchased a church building since their first church was stolen from them by the Bewersdorf gang (hereafter known as Keyl's gang) in 1846. The congregation in Buffalo enlarged its church in 1851 at a cost of $1500 and enlarged the school for $280; the church is decorated with a portrait of Luther and old oil paintings depicting the death and resurrection of Christ. The altar is decorated with 2 new, large lanterns and the church with two large chandeliers; in 1852 a beautiful organ was commissioned for the church at a cost of $1000. If faith were not present, then such great works of love from poor, immigrant congregations would not be manifest. It is a sign of God's blessing and proof that faith is actuated through love.
Through the senior member of its ministry, the synod purchased a lot for the construction of the Martin Luther College in Buffalo at a cost of $750 in December, 1852. If it pleases God, construction might begin this summer. In 1852 church and school visits were conducted by me in Detroit, Milwaukee, Watertown, Kirchhayn and Freystadt; what was especially apparent was the heartfelt and living unity of faith present in our church members, students and congregations. In 1853 church and school visitations were held in Martinsville and Eden, where the blessing of the Lord presided as communicated in the ministerial sessions. Four young people were examined by the church ministry on April 5th of this year for Christian school appointments; three students passed while one was held back for further and necessary education.
Meanwhile our confused and excommunicated members defy the Christian ban placed against them, encouraged by the pat on the back they receive from the Missourians, and continue on their self-justifying and insane path, enticing teachers to come to them, listening to what they have to say and falling ever deeper with their scarred consciences, allowing the most preposterous of lies to be written and published by their gang leaders, as the Walther Sidecar indicates.
Prof. Walther and his helpers are vanquished through God's pity; that is, shamed before us. Their incorrect teachings concerning church, preaching office, spiritual priesthood, Christian freedom, appointment to ministerial office, the Christian church ban, etc. are not only known to us but to the entire Lutheran church to the point of nausea. Their injustice and tyranny against us has long been recognized; their haughty and proud spirit has been revealed. Indeed, it seems they will remain hard hearted and stubborn as the result of their finding solace in Vicar Löhe's goodwill. The latest published slanders to issue from Walther's feather consist partly in a malicious combining of our doctrine, which they tore apart in Brocken, with certain suppositions of the Jesuits, etc. The other part is the so-called Sidecar. — Both dirty little tidbits are the last desperate efforts at self defense before they lay down their weapons and offer no further retaliation.
There is also the Lutheran Herold, which unfortunately often blares its trumpet with unlutheran doctrine and which openly accuses that we extend too much power to our ministerial office. Previously it had published that it sanctioned and accepted our principles concerning Christian church discipline, even wishing to print them, however it has not done this. The good man, who acts as speaker and advisor for the Herold, often corresponds with Pastor Löhe, who has produced little so far concerning church discipline. To a certain extent he also professes the slanders of the gangs and the Missourians.
With other self-proclaimed Lutheran synods in this country, such as the New York, Pennsylvanian, Ohioan, etc. there is no real relationship, merely an overall neighborliness. Nothing goes on in their districts, which might be interpreted as interest for us. The Union spirit still embraces them and under its influence the Pennsylvanian Synod has recently united with the United General Synod. The Ohio Synod has refused to join because the General Synod does not profess unreserved belief in the unchanged Augsburg Confession. However the General Synod would pass itself off as a complex of preachers, who are united in their intention to teach the major doctrinal points of the gospel as they are contained in the Augsburg Confession. It merely desires unity of intention, not unity of doctrine and thus the distinction between major and minor points is left in the dark. — The Ohio Synod, in not joining the General Synod, verbally pays homage to the symbols of the Lutheran church, however in practice is lags completely behind. Clearly no true profession of faith has yet been acknowledged, merely the expression of good intentions to follow.
From the few letters we've received from the Lutheran Indianapolis Synod it seems to us that we are closer to them, however no further steps have been taken towards establishing a fraternal connection or ecclesiastic communion.
Our exchange of letters with Pastor Löhe has ceased after two years. One sees in his writings that he agrees with us concerning teaching on church and ministry but in our regime of church discipline he sees an overextension of the ministerial office even though he himself has gone far beyond us in overextension. He will not permit congregations to appoint their own preachers; rather all appointments are made solely through the church ministry. Our correspondence with him has ceased because it revealed he was a fickle man, who uses rhetoric to spread a smokescreen of flattery to cover up the public horrors of the lost Missouri synod — he himself recognizes that he is a flatterer! The poor man speaks of love and peace even where he knows that he is not in doctrinal agreement with the Missourians. His Communiqués on North America have an overdeveloped and false eloquence about them and are filled with highly fanatical opinions. He doesn't seem to have been apprised of the reality of the situation.
We have formed no ties with our old brothers in faith of the Lutheran church in Prussia even though we have desired to have communion with them since 1848. According to a statement in its church newspaper written by Pastor Ehlers, we are united in doctrine with them amid the current round of prevalent church questions; this statement is all the more gratifying given the fact that its publication came to life without any form of agreement; indeed, circumstances have arisen in the past year which would lead one not to suppose this.
There seem to be certain points of communion with the congregations in Upper Canada, which are still counted among the Lutheran churches. It would be nice for these congregations to be provided with better preachers than they have had in the past. Mostly these preachers have been vagrants and drunkards, who have made preaching a trade.
It's also known that a student expelled from the Berlin University in Prussia by the name of Peifer was a drinker; he was imprisoned in Buffalo for thievery. He was made a preacher in the vicinity of Berlin, Canada and for many years he has led the people there as he pleases. Pastors Hölsche, Meissner, Diehl and Wurster seem to conduct blessed ministries up there and under their guidance true Lutheran congregations might still be established. Pastor Meissner's congregation has already instituted the old faith and redeeming Dresden Catechism of 1683.
According to a report by Pastor Hahn of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, his congregation - all of whom were souls imprisoned in the Union Agenda - now wish to plant the principles of political democracy in the church; retaining the name Lutheran is ancillary. There are only a few families and individuals among them
Go on to pages 8 - 12
Copy of text provided by the A. R. Wentz Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks