The Fourth Synodal Letter, Pages 38 - 42


and the neighbor is unmercifully oppressed as a result? In this case it would run contrary to God's word and thus you have our application of the phrase. So as not to sin in such cases, that is, not to operate in contradiction to the word of God, the majority votes of our congregational brothers must be heeded and our congregational deputies would be able to testify that the votes of our fellow Chrisitans are always heard and that the opinions of the minority are taken into consideration for the sake of love and peace. *

4) This practical information has already been presented in our Second Synodal Letter, pages 7 and 8 as well as pages 155 and 156.

5) It is noteworthy that this phrase was used in a discussion concerning the installation of a new pastor, who promises his congregation pure teaching and Christian conduct; the discussion also included remarks on how the church has to make a decision about the pastor in accordance with its symbolic books and the church orders of its synod regarding what is contrary to God's word and what is not! This must dispel all talk of tyranny. See the 2nd Synodal Letter, page 7 at the bottom.

Pastor Grabau has instituted no innovative procedure here. Rather this is a quotation of what our old Lutheran church orders state concerning the installation of a pastor.

6) In conclusion we agree with the resolutions passed by the Leipzig Ministerial conference (page 113 in the Journal for Lutheran Theology and Church, Rudelbach and Guericke, 1852) in which it states:
"Ordination is the process whereby vocation is brought to completion and the individual possessing those qualities specific to Christians becomes a bearer of the office." "The essence of ordination is its ability to consecrate individuals to the office without granting an imperishable title."

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* The formula by which this occurs:
1) Groups of related matters are addressed by an assembly of church administrators under the chairmanship of the pastor with resolutions passed on whether to hold a Christian congregational assembly.
2) Findings of the church administrators are read to the assembled congregations after which the congregations are give a quarter hour or more to discuss the matters among themselves. There's often pious murmuring throughout the group with a slightly louder discussion between two or three members, which the others overhear.
3) The call to order is sounded and one or another steps forward and declares his Christian opinion concerning the report for the edification of the others.
4) After several others have also stepped forward, order is restored by the pastor and verbal deliberations are held in which each member is asked to express his opinion through brief or lengthier explanation. Thus it is decided whether the just and well-considered majority vote lies for or against an issue.
5) The poor within the congregation have a yes or no vote although their votes are not binding to the proceedings. Whoever sees a tyrant here will have to prove it. Return to text

It is understood that this is the case only when a dispute arises. Return to text


Second Part of the Synodal Letter
Matters not dealing with Doctrine

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I.

The Martin Luther College in Buffalo, N.Y.

At the 18th session a proposal was placed before the synod concerning our Lutheran preparatory seminary for the education of Lutheran school teachers and preachers, which has been in existence for 13 years. A summary plan was presented for the construction of a facility and advice was sought.

1.) Full repayment of the loan for the plot of land should be made. $300 was still owed. The money should be gathered through collections at church services in all the congregations until the sum is collected. If at the end of a certain period there is still an outstanding amount then that sum will be divided up among the congregations in proportion to their repective wealth. Full repayment should happen as soon as possible so that the piece of land may be used as collateral to the creditors for the sum which will be borrowed for construction.

2.) The committeemen or trustees elected to the construction committee shall have the power to borrow $1,200 for construction costs since preliminary estimates put the cost at $2,400. Payments for the loan plus interest shall be collected annually by the entire synodal band.

3.) An agreement will be made with the contractor for the remaining $1,200 to be repaid in annual installments. We will seeking funding for these annual payments not only from our friends and the Legislature of New York State but also from the Lutheran churches in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Lutheran congregations in Holland and if it pleases God from congregations in Germany.

Additionally, since this seminary serves neighboring Canada and the Lutheran congregations located there with true-faith preachers it is only proper that we solicit financial support for the entire building project from the Queen of England and Prince Albert since the current project only represents a portion of the facility. In closing all synodal members declared (at the time of the second inquiry) they were certain and they believed that the steps we wished to undertake were not contrary to Christian love of neighbor and brother. Although the matter seems difficult, once it is begun all believe that God will give us His assistance along the way so we may move forward.

At the 19th session we heard the advice of all synodal members concerning the appointment of teachers


to the Martin Luther College. All were in agreement that two teachers would be appointed besides the pastor of Buffalo (who has given instruction without financial remuneration for 13 years). The appointees would be:

1) a true-faith professor, who would give prospective theologians instruction in the ancient languages as well as teach prospective school teachers in English.

2) One other teacher, who could completely take over the preparatory classes.

Comment: The current teacher for the Hebrew language will be retained. Therefore there will be a total of 4 main teachers employed.

At present we need to start the process of selection and appointment of the professor. It is also deemed proper and necessary for this individual to receive at least $300 in salary plus free residence at the college until such time as the salary can be increased. We intend to give assistance to him so he will have a warm reception at the churches here in Buffalo. The Trinity congregation had previously stated that it was prepared to honor him by having him take over some of the church services.

With regard to the second teacher, who would be appointed later, it was advised that he should receive a $200 honorarium plus free room and board at the college until such time as it was possible to give him a financial increase.

Concerning the governance of the college it was stipulated:

1) that the facility should stand under a board of directors comprised of the pastors of our synod with the exception of those pastors residing in neighboring Canada. However the board may be limited to 5 individuals. One of the directors shall have the chairmanship, which should be under the control of the senior minister. However the board will have the freedom to elect another from their midst as president if it seems necessary, provided they give notice beforehand to the entire church ministry and have its approval.

2) The President of the Board will have the same duties as other directors while at the same time overseeing the courses of instruction with regard to course planning, discipline and organization of the facility. He shall report his findings to the entire board so that further decisions may be reached and special arrangements may be made. He oversees the facility by commission of and as representative of the entire board in conjunction with the church ministry.

3) The facility shall have 3 trustees and a treasurer or cashier, who shall be elected to 3 year terms by the Synod of the Prussian Emigrant Lutheran Church. In the event that the Synod cannot be brought together due to some impediment, the church ministry shall conduct the election of trustees and treasurers,


with the ministry representing the synod in this event. In the same manner elections may be held when a trustee dies or he revolts against or leaves the synod. Anyone who revolts against, leaves the synod, or is excommunicated may no longer conduct the office.

4) The duties of the trustees are as follows:
a) For as long as the time of construction, they shall act as the building committee, overseeing the construction process from its commencement to its conclusion and making sure the work proceeds as directed by the Board as based on the decisions of the Synod.
b) The trustees hold and administer the facility and its resources as property of the Synod of the Prussian Emigrant Lutheran Church in accordance with the rules and regulations placed by the synod; the Board is also bound to these regulations.
c) Giving prior notice to the 3 trustees and by instruction of the President of the Board, the treasurer shall administer the income and expenses, maintain bookkeeping records and submit yearly financial statements, which shall be examined by the board. He shall deposit funds in secure accounts for the construction costs plus set up accounts for the salary of a teacher and the purchase of equipment for instructional purposes.

5) On June 19th the current synod elected the Senior member of the church ministry, J. A. A. Grabau, Pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Buffalo as president. The vote was confirmed on June 20th.

At the 20th session on June 3, 1853 steps were taken to choose a professor for the Martin Luther College. By majority vote the Reverend Pastor Friedrich Winkler of Detroit, Michigan was selected.

At the 21st session on June 4th there was a vote for the 3 trustees and treasurer. The church committee in Buffalo nominated 10 men, 3 of whom were elected as trustees by majority vote:
Wilh. Eschenfelder, Asch Street, Buffalo
Aug. Vermehr, Ellicott Street, Buffalo
Geo Lüders, Elm Street, Buffalo.
E. Rother of Clinton Street, Buffalo was elected treasurer.

At the end of the vote the synod appointed and confirmed those elected to their respective offices; they received a warning in the Lord to conscientiously, actively and joyously conduct their offices to the glory of God whereby our beloved Lord Jesus Christ would surely grant his blessing.

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II.

The Request by Pastor Meissner that Our Synod send Lutheran Preachers to Canada

After the dire report was read concerning the circumstances in the German-Evanglical congregations in Canada and the position of Pastor Meissner within those congregations, it was unanimously decided


that the church ministry should reply to Pastor Meissner as follows:

It is of utmost importance that the congregations, which desire preachers from our synod, to declare beforehand whether they profess the Lutheran faith of the unchanged Augsburg Confession and the Lutheran Catechism, whether they would be willing to adopt the Lutheran Catechism and a Lutheran songbook, whether they would be willing to have sacred church service and the sacraments according to Lutheran church orders and would hold to Christian discipline. In light of these conditions would they give a ministerial candidate ordained vocation? If they are ready to declare themselves so willing, then with the help of God the synod will find true Lutheran ministers to care for them to whatever extent is possible. To this end notice is given that one or another of our advanced Christian school teachers could prepare himself to take the exams for the ministry in order to fill the needed positions; provided these men pass the exams, they could be appointed to preach for these people.

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III.

Representatives of the Synod going to Europe

At the 20th session on June 3rd there was an advisory meeting and a second round of inquiry concerning the question of whether it might be God's will that our synod send two representatives to Europe including Germany in order to gather funds towards construction of the Martin Luther College, towards purchase of teaching supplies and equipment and towards salaries for 2 teachers through appeals to our brothers in faith and their superiors. The synod was in agreement that it must be considered the will of God as based on His holy words and that the course of favorable events leading to this work lends confirmation that it is God's will; indeed we see it as divine providence which urges us to take this path. With regard to this the following was recognized:

1) It is not only God's will that all men receive assistance but also that righteous-faith Zion, the Lutheran Church in this country receive help in accordance with his promise and command that even those in authority shall be its nurses and caregivers, that we should implore the master of the crops that he send workers into his fields. It is now apparent that we began this educational institution not out of impertinence but instead out of the spiritual need we have experienced for the past 13 years; through God's blessing we have maintained and cared for it amid much sorrow and distress and now the time has come for us to establish and build the true church of God in his country as we become ever more capable of being its pastors and teachers in our churches and schools for ourselves and our descendants while at the same time preserving pure teaching for our neighboring brothers in faith. However in using our own physical and spiritual resources


Go on to pages 43 - 47


Copy of text provided by the A. R. Wentz Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks