3. This congregation further declares that the Synod, which was established here in 1845 by the Prussian Immigrant Lutheran Church, and its church ministry (both of which were established by the guidance and direction of Pastor J.A.A. Grabau, Senior Minister, and subsequently will continue under his rightfully appointed successors) is a true faith synod and church ministry. It takes upon itself the role of church government in accordance with its orthodox tenets of faith and the orders of the church and it will be guided by them.
For this reason this German-Lutheran Church of the Trinity places all its trust in its Church Ministry and Synod, it is justifiably in agreement with the written declaration delineating the contents of our profession of faith and determining the aspects of our board of council in accordance with the Orders of the Church, and for this same reason it acknowledges the keys of office.
"Therefore this said congregation declares further, that the minister and teachers shall not be examined, invested and sent of any other than her own foresaid Synod and ministry shall become ordained their Candidate."
4. Thus the German-Lutheran Church of the Trinity further ordains and declares that its church government, ministry and synod are authorized and empowered to lead us through all disagreements and difficulties with regard to matters of doctrine and faith and through all other circumstances which might lead to schism and factioning; anyone who is not in accord or who separates himself from said church or who does not obey its government or who hesitates in his submissiveness to the Synod's jurisdiction and authority will be excommunicated; be it one, a few, or many individuals, from the day of departure or excommunication, those individuals will be excluded from all church votes (except for Trustee ballots), they shall have no rights with regard to distribution of church property; and they shall have no rights with regard to obligatory or voluntary activity within the church or support of the pastor and teacher.
It is the intention of this German-Lutheran Church of the Trinity to notify such banned and excommunicated members that they should do penance and return to the church and when they perform their penance they will be readmitted; upon readmittance they will have the same rights as other members, that is, they shall have rights of usage to church and school buildings and all other church property currently owned or owned in the future,
they shall regain the same rights as those held by other true and well established church members who maintain and support their orthodox church government.
It is the further intention of this congregation to retain its church property for its true successors and insure that it not fall into the hands of schismatic factions.
Thus we, the undersigned duly elected Trustees and Committee members, in obedience to the dictates and wishes of said church and congregation, in order to perpetuate the power of previously made decisions, and in order to protect ourselves against disagreements and doubts which may still arise, make this declaration:
CITY OF BUFFALO.
On May 22, 1849 the Reverend J. A. A. Grabau, whom I know, came before me and was duly sworn in; he said that he lived in the City of Buffalo and that he knew Ernst Schorr, H.H. Jopp, Ludwig Dette, Georg Schmidt, F.C. Rother, Bruno Kluth, Karl Petsch, Gottfried Schönfeld, et. al., that they are the persons who signed and executed said Instrument and he witnessed the signing, after which he signed his name in testimony to its execution.
In the publication "A Look into the Public Hearing", on which the Trustee Law was condemned, Grabau said: "Thus we may have Sadducees and spiritual Turks as trustees and judges over harmful and benign religious interpretations." The Johannisburg Trustees certainly could not be described this way, as he admitted when he said: "We may yet have them." Because he acted and taught as a true Sadducee and Turk and his trustees helped him, he was able to steal the church property of the Trinity Congregation and then use it to his advantage, he must have been aware of the fact that his above mentioned worst fear had become his greatest ally. Thus on their own authority without consulting the congregation *) and without having raised an accusation again the deacon, they could dismiss the pastor, close down the pulpit, foreclose on the contents and residence, and close the church on a beautiful Sunday. Aren't thoses the acts of Sadducees and Turks?
I will merely describe here how he assumed for himself the property of the Synod, from which he withdrew himself. Since the majority of the College Trustees remained with the Synod and we occupied the college, the question was raised: How is it that Grabau was able to lay hold of the college when the earthly Trustee Law could be no help to him? This will be described in the following section.
How the Lawsuit over the Martin Luther College came about.
After the dispute had broken out among the pastors I remembered something I heard about ten years ago. Grabau had arranged his affairs in such a manner that he was able to claim the college as his own. I went to the Courthouse and read the deed for myself. In it was written "John A. A. Grabau, President of the Synod of the Lutheran Church in Buffalo, emigrated from Prussian and his successors in office." When the notary read the deed he said Grabau held the deed as president
of the Synod. To this I countered that Grabau had voluntarily resigned his position as senior counsel "unconditionally and irrevokably." Then he said that Grabau must turn over the deed to his successors in office. No one who carefully perused the deed could interpret it any differently.
The dispute between the pastors of our congregation became ever more serious. The ministry tried to quietly arbitrate the dispute. They had to disallow Grabau's false teachings and publicly sanction him. Grabau wouldn't go along with this. He began to rant and rave against his ministery brethren from the pulpit on Sundays and he created an uproar among the congregation. He called upon the Synod as though he were anxious for their decision however by breaking his promise he already created a schism in God's service. The intermediary Senior tried to hinder this event and he called a Ministerial Conference; Grabau did not appear but he continued to issue forth slanderous remarks against his Church Brothers. His response to the last invitation stated: Opposition unto death against the Rohr Mutiny, against the rabble spirit and against the police mentality in the Lutheran Church. From February 23rd to April 11th I've been expecting proof that this assembly is a legitimate Ministerial Conference and if it were, I would have been there. But instead I have proof in hand that this is not a legitimate ministerial conference but rather something else; so sayeth the Lord: "I may not take part in your assembly" - J.A.A. Grabau.
After this it became clear that the schism could not be averted and through a public meeting of the congregation Pastor Grabau's suspension was announced. Two other College Trustees and I were charged with the task of going to Grabau and securing the legal title to the College deed. However we did not meet him. The Synod would no longer be held off; during this time Pastor von Rohr warned Pastor Grabau that he might want to properly deal with the college deed and thereby restore his good name. In response to this Grabau brought the deed before the Synod and said in the presence of the Synod and many other listeners that he [Grabau] had held the deed in his house for 12 ½ years and that he did not know that it was not in order; he wished to disprove any suspicion that it was his intention to seize the college for himself. Prof. Winkler, accompanied by Pastor Hochstetter, took the deed along with the Act of Incorporation to my house and we went together to the lawyer to find out if the deed had been properly executed since Grabau had resigned his position as Senior Minister. According to the resolution passed by the Ministry we were to put four questions to the lawyer:
2. whether the institute had any hidden capital and whether a mortgage had been secured on the property." (There was a significant debts owed for song books.)
3. should a charter be drafted, etc.
4. could a director from Canada be appointed.
The lawyer was not in, so Prof. Winkler wrote out the 4 questions in English and left them for the lawyer to consider. A few days later the lawyer gave me the answer and I still have possession of this paper.
A few days passed during which the Synod was wise enought to reject Grabau's teachings *) and his misdeeds. Subsequently in God's name, he withdrew himself from the Synod.
On the advice of the lawyer I went with two witnesses to Grabau and asked him to either transfer the deed to the College to his successors in office in the Senior Council or at least to turn over a declaration of trust, that is, he should write a letter in which he acknowledged that he obtained the college not for himself but for the Synod. However Grabau refused and when we reminded him of his statement before the assembled Synod he countered that the circumstances had changed; he would do nothing without the advice of his attorney; some days later he gave his final answer, he would not roll over dead so soon †). This thought came to my mind: You poor man, don't you know the Ninth Commandment and do you not wish to learn the difference between right and wrong?!
Many week passed. Grabau would hear nothing about his decision concerning the college matter. Instead he worked continually in secret,
*) It is regrettable that the Synod passed over the evidence of false teaching, which would have earned Grabau dismissal from his office. The Ministerial Trial provided sufficient evidence to prove Grabau's false doctrine. Since Grabau had promised to deliver a written response to the Senior Council (which he however failed to do), the ministerial trial was postponed. Return to text
†) This is also the response Grabau gave to the Commission which the Synod sent concerning this matter. The report of the Commission states as follows: Early today, around 7 o'clock, Pastors Maschhop, Eppling and von Rohr went to Pastor J.A.A. Grabau at the instruction of the Ministry in order to find out from him [Grabau] at what time they could return with a Notary in order to procure his signature on the Declaration of Trust for the property rights of the Martin Luther College. Pastor Grabau answered Pastor Eppling, who recorded his words: "Yes, I would be ready to sign over this Declaration but you have changed the circumstances. I am quite willing to sign it over but first the Synod must provide a reciprocal declaration in which they pay me for my 19 years of instruction at the College." At this point Pastor von Rohr offered to give him clarification of the state of the matters. When Pastor Grabau heard this and quickly read the contents of the declaration for himself he repeated his earlier response. Pastor von Rohr begged permission to give him brotherly advice concerning how Grabau's good name would be damaged and how he would put himself in jeopardy of having to go through a costly lawsuit. He answered, "My good name has already been sufficiently slandered; that is mere empty oratory." See 9th Synodal Letter, page 110. Return to text
day and night, to secure the congregational and the Synod property for himself. At this time he had the church watched over day and night and since he couldn't enlist the aid of the police he had to arm his adherents with clubs to watch over the church like soldiers in a fortress. Thousands could testify that this is true. The Godless get no peace. Isaiah 48, 22.
Since Grabau allowed so much time to pass, while awaiting for a final decision it became apparent that legal action was needed. The lawyer assured that the College was incorporated and that if there were mistakes in the deed, any judge could still see that it was a Deed of Trust.
How did Grabau respond to this lawsuit? He lied about everything. Read his response and be astonished!
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Reproduction [of the text] by Permission of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY: October 16, 2003.
Edited January 10, 2006
Imaged and translated by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks