Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 15, July and August


Volume 15, No. 3, July 1867, pages 36 & 37

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History

of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued [from page 27]

[v. Rohr:] For me and my children I require a specific, thought-out system of belief such as Christians have deemed necessary for 1800 years. This new church does not deem such a thing necessary for combating Satan or withstanding an irresolute heart filled with worldly tempations and false teaching. I find what I need in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, the one true Christian church, and its irrefutable system of belief based on holy scripture.

Bishop: In that case we are finished. I have nothing further to say to you. (Said with a dismissive gesture of the hand.)

Another United preacher made two visits to shoemaker Schönfeld, a representative of the congregation, to convince him that he and the new agenda were Lutheran. It was for this reason he conformed to the new agenda. However his proof demonstrated that it had a Lutheran shell around a Reform kernel and its spirit and sense were entirely reform. This he could not disprove. After several hours of dispute the preacher concluded with the usual arguments: "His opponent was splitting hairs. He was being obstinate and stubborn."

Von Rohr also found himself involved in written and verbal debates with his dearest and most respected friends in the United Church. On the above-mentioned points they showed the greatest weakness. Gossner showed complete

indifference towards the distinctions in doctrine. Otto v. Gerlach declared, "He had to admit that the United Church was a persecuting agent and as such was not a proper church, however it was the means to a true union. By joining this extraneous union the faithful had the opportunity to bring about a true union." Thus he availed himself of evil means to bring about a good outcome. On this St. Paul says in Romans 3, 8: "Those, who say let us do evil to produce the good, deserve their condemnation."

So it was for Ahrendt, Kunze, Lislow, Kuak, Sam. Elsner and other dear friends and ministers, who could not bring themselves to admit that the United Church was false. They comforted themselves in the hope of creating something good out of the situation. They did not want to risk their ministerial postings or abandon their flocks. During the time of the Lutheran persecution most judges, policemen and state officials were convinced by the United Church that they had the right to imprison and ban Lutheran ministers. They were convinced they had a sworn duty to the King himself to search out, arrest and fine Lutheran church fathers for crimes against the Prussian government because they held church services contrary to the United Agenda. Even though it went contrary to their consciences, they obeyed the royal cabinet order. They confiscated the Lutherans' church property, rescinded all prior laws allowing existence outside the National Church and declared all Lutheran church services conventicle practice punishable by law. The persecution demoralized all church and government officials throughout the land. The devil was permitted to use his dragon tail to wipe a third of the ecclesiastic stars of heaven from the sky and God himself showed disapproval as ninety-nine


percent of all Lutheran pastors went over to the false United Church.

Revelations, John 12: 3 and 4: And another sign came from heaven. Behold, a huge red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns with 7 crowns on its heads.

Verse 4: And his tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and cast them down to the earth.

The reign of persecution also visited the small congregation in Magdeburg, which was regularly holding its church services in the home of Captain von Rohr. During the season of Lent in 1837 not only did the chief administrator read the gospel but Pastor Grabau held a 3-day church service which included singing, preaching and the sacrament of the eucharist. The congregation grew to some thirty members.

Such church services were forbidden and the congregation was fined 5 Reich Dollars for each service. At first the participants were taken to the Police Commissioner for punishment, but after several failed attempts to break up the group the police limited themselves to threatening the group with violence. It was thought that brute force would disperse the groups but despite all threats church services continued. It was known that in rural areas such as Meseritz in Posen brute force had been used. Suspect groups of men and women were dragged off by the hair. However in the larger cities the police authorities did not permit the use of violence because they did not want to create a sensation. Week after week the group was brought to the police bureau and threatened with ever increasing financial penalties in order to force them

to give up the names of their ministers. In our case they wanted the name of the minister who baptised Captain von Rohr's child.

Among the Lutherans the answer was always the same. We can give no information to persecuting United authorities which would be used to arrest our pastor.

By order of the royal upper-regional court von Rohr was apprehended and taken to the Divisional Court. He was to give them the name of the minister who baptised his son. He would face criminal prosecution if he continued to refuse to pay the fines levied against him for the baptism and the funeral for his son. A trial was also pending for having church services in his home. Von Rohr refused to give any information concerning the baptiser of his child and insisted he would not pay the fine because to pay the fine would indicate obedience from a Lutheran to the United Church. The king allowed a cabinet order to be issued commanding Captain von Rohr to name the baptiser. Von Rohr was granted an audience with the king in which he asked to be excused from the order because of his religion, citing God's word in Thessalonians 17, 3: "Hide those who are hunted and do not report the refugees."

At the same time von Rohr was granted an audience from the Divisional Military Court because he wished to be excused from United Military church services and obedience to a United minister since this indicated allegence to the United Church. It would imperil his soul and be against his conscience to listen to a United minister. He cited Christ's words in Matthew 7, 15: "Beware false prophets."

               To be continued


Volume 15, No. 4, August 1867, pages 50-52.

History

of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued [from page 37]

Because of Captain von Rohr's unique abilities the Division Commander, General Theile II, submitted a proposal


to station the captain where he would not come into contact with military church service. However on February 17, 1837 a royal cabinet order was issued: "I release Captain v. Rohr with a dishonorable discharge because he chooses not to follow the orders of his superiors." Soon after the King tempered the stringency of this order by sending von Rohr an order of decommission dated February 10th, whereby he gave von Rohr unrestricted permission to travel in and out of the country and excused him from any further military service.

On the previous day Pastor Grabau had baptised two children and administered the holy eucharist to the congregation. Five new members were accepted into the congregation including the wife of Captain von Rohr, who until then had held to the United Church faith. Fortified in faith and happy to be spiritually reunited with his beloved wife, von Rohr returned home after escorting the pastor on his return journey to find General von Thiele II there with the cabinet order. He gave it to von Rohr and left with tears in his eyes. But instead of needing comfort, von Rohr was able to comfort his noble Christian friend and superior office and give strength in faith to his wife.

He trusted in the true God and would not be ashamed. When he returned home another day to deliver his company to his successor and to give notice of his dismissal to his superior officers, a young woman with tears in her eyes asked him, "What are you going to wear to church since you have no civilian clothes?" He answered that the true God, whose name and truth we all know, would provide.

When taking leave of his company von Rohr

parted with these words: I do this to remain true to God, king and country. There were few tearfree eyes in the group, even among those who had despised and scorned him for his Christian discipline.

When he returned home, his wife greeted him with the words, "The true God has provided." She pointed to the civilian clothes sent over by first lieutenant, Count von Pückler, along with a cordial note asking that he accept this new set of casual clothing since he could think of no possible use for it.

That evening the members of the tiny congregation, themselves poor, brought cloth with them with which to make an all-season coat and hat. God fortified the feeble of faith and inclined the hearts of the many who had previously scorned the captain because of his faith. They now showed kindness to the man they had early considered crazy.

On April 1st the captain's former batallion commander, Major von Döring, came instead of Sergeant Mittenwald, who as paymaster no longer had a salary payment for von Rohr. The major brought the equivalent of a month's pay and gave the excuse that the captains of the regiment thought that von Rohr was still entitled to a month's severance so they were giving this to him in advance.

More support came from his father-in-law and other fellow Christians. When need threatened again he received 109 dollars from Prof. Huschke.

So it was that the true God did not allow the man, who had placed his trust in Him, come to harm. At the last parade he had attended, upon hearing of his immanent departure from the regiment several officers had asked him if he had considered how he would support his family.


The captain responded,"There was still someone who will provide, my Lord Jesus Christ."

The Lord provided so well for him and his family that He took unto Himself his wife and eldest son along with a maid and female servant during the cholera epidemic in October of 1837. Before he had been left alone with his baptised infant. This time he was left alone with a 2 ½ year old daughter. However he took comfort in the fact that his child and his wife had died in the faith and that they would long be remembered by the congregation.

The true God made use of him then as a tool to gain the freedom of Pastor Grabau and he served the congregations in Pomerania, the Uckermark, Saxony and Thuringia during the winter of 1837 and the summer of 1838. After his arrest he managed to win the heart of Criminal Director Fritze in Magdeburg and during his approximately 14 months of imprisonment he received frequent passes for travel by foot through Saxony, Thuringia and Baveria as far as Bamberg, Erlangen and Nuremburg ostensibly to take his antiquarian book trade to a new market, the parade grounds of his former comrades. He conducted business under the name of the Antiquarian Book Firm of H. von Rohr. To establish this firm brothers David Helm and Martin Krüger of Scharchow near Camin lent him 1000 Reichs Dollars and a charitable friend of his wife, the widow of mint master Kleinstuber of Berlin, gave him 500 dollars towards this business. By the time of the emigration they had received a mere 3 ½% interest on their money.

With the Capital von Rohr purchased a collection of old, sound, theological texts, bibles and first editions (incunabula)

which were worth perhaps ten times the price he had paid for them. He bought them from the Jews in Bavaria, who always had entire libraries in stock acting as wholesalers of waste paper to butchers and selling it for a dollar per hundredweight. By this time most of the old church libraries had replaced all these old theological texts. It was also just around this time that Lutherans awakening from their United slumber had begun to search out these old works for answers, so antiquarian book dealers began to search for these treasures. The emigrant Lutherans conducted a huge amount of business with Thomas & Heerdeger in Nuremburg, Wiener in Hamburg, Tiek in Berlin, and later with Beck in Nordlingen, paying a steep price for these works and saving them from further annihilation by the wholesalers.

The case against von Rohr was turned over to the civilian courts. The trial was pending for holding church services and inquiries were being made to discover the name of the minister, who baptised von Rohr's son. Lord mayor Franke of Magdeburg fined the merchant, Meisch, 30 Reichs Dollars per week until such time as he would name the baptiser.

He was also threatened with the ruining of his business if he did not return to the United Church. On an executive order furniture was seized to be placed on public auction in lieu of 70 to 80 Reichs Dollars in fines. The congregation submitted an appeal to the regional court, to the royal government, to Justice Minister Mühler, to the Minister of the Interior von Altenstein and eventually to the king himself.

               To be continued


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Microfilm provided by The Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.


Imaging & translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks