Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 15, January & February 1868

January 1868: pages 131 - 133


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 116

It is best when people choose to flee from sin and from the danger of sinning; in their fear and trembling they create their own sanctity. It is good when through God's grace they struggle to overcome their own misgivings, feelings and inclinations in order to be obedient to His word.

To them will come God's peace. Indeed the greater their physical cross, the greater their inner joy and peace in discovering the truth of God, Our Savior's holy promises. Amen.

Let us consider that we could be living in the last 2 ½ years of the world as stated in Revelations 12, 14 or perhaps it could be the last decades of the last century. A thousand years is like a day to the Lord and the day and hour of His coming is hidden from us. However the time draws near as it says in John 1, John 2, 18; Peter 1 and Peter 4.7.

Let us create something good with our own hands so we can give it to those in need. In this way the Lord can fill our hands with the fruits of our labor so we will not leave with nothing to show for it. Let us work truly and diligently for the honor of God and His name until the last hour before departure. God the Lord can still bless us with long life in a strange land in fulfillment of His promise as stated in Matthew 19, 29 and Mark 10: 29, 30. May He use us to bring His gospel to the heathens

so we may deliver them to Him. Let us be an evangelical army of the true church filled with pure teaching. With our departure from corrupted Christianity let us live among the heathens and go to their wives and children.

It may take several years until all the people comprising the approximately 600,000,000 heathens hear the gospel. According to Matthew 24, 14, "the gospel shall be preached throughout the world to all peoples and then the end will come." In 2 Peter 3: 7-10: "The heaven and the earth are reserved for fire by His word. It will be the day of judgment and damnation for godless men. But do not forget, beloved brothers, that a day is like a 1000 years to the Lord and a 1000 years like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as men offen are, but He has patience and does not want anyone to be lost. He wishes each man to learn repentance. However the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."

But all requirements may be fulfilled today or tomorrow because a day is like a 1000 years to the Lord.

So let us all individually and as a congregation ardently pray for understanding, obedience and unity in the will of our merciful Lord, Jesus. In particular let us and every member pray that each individual will confront his own character flaws, false loves, greed and foolishness, which lead him to be fearful of the cross or the indecision of whether to go or stay on the pretext of wanting to carry that cross.

May God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit help us all. Amen.

         The Administrators of
         the Magdeburg Congregation

Many letters followed trying to dissuade us from emigrating. There were letters from Prof. Huschke, Dr. Scheibel, brothers Platz and Gremple from Breslau written to Pastor Grabau, to the administrators in Erfurt, Berlin and Magdeburg and to Captain von Rohr. Pastor Senkel sent a 10 page letter and Pastor Gessner sent a shorter one. A letters were written to refute the letter of the Magdeburg administrators.

The authors of the letters, particularly Professor Huschke, felt it was their duty to point out certain proofs taken from God's word as explained in Pastors Senkel and Gessner's letters indicating that this was not the time for emigation and that emigration would be sinful.

The main proof for stating that this was not the time and America was not the destination rested in the argument that the final goal was to reach the promised land after the arrival of the antichrist but before the 1000-year reign of Christ on earth. This time would not arrive until the beginning of the 7th millenium. From this anyone can see Chiliastic heresy.

A portion of these letters and Senkel and Gessner's warnings are given as historical documents concerning the attitudes of the people from Breslau at the beginning of Supplement E, subsection E along with Pastor Grabau's reply. This reply does not address the issue of chiliasm because it was such an involved topic, however he warned against this in our First Synodal Letter.

All these letters of warning were thoroughly read and discussed with the administrators and members of the Berlin, Erfurt and Magdeburg congregations. This was done in the presence of Captain von Rohr, who was frequently asked to visit and lend counsel to the congregations because nearly all the pastors were absent. The same was true with congregations in Pomerania and the Uckermark.

The majority of the congregations mentioned above and their administrators were in agreement with the Magdeburg declaration. By the end of 1837 and the beginning of 1838 they too declared that they considered emigration proper and necessary since the king had denied to grant tolerance. Their decisions were also based on Luther's teaching concerning Matthew 10, 23 and the spiritual necessity created by the lack of preaching, sacraments and schools.

Later the opinions of the Breslau people gained the upper hand in Berlin and Erfurt.

Those people, who had not been diverted by the heretical letters of warning, spoke out through Pastor Grabau and Captain von Rohr against the Breslau brothers as follows:

That although the missives from Senkel and Gessner attempted to provide proof from God's words in the scriptures and Luther's interpretation, they were not dissuaded from their conviction that not only was emigration proper, it was necessary. However due to the hopes raised by Prof. Huschke and others for renewed negotiations with the spiritual ministry we saw that they still believed it was proper to stay. We would no longer consider staying sinful but we still considered it inadvisable to remain for the sake of our spiritual health and safety.

            To be continued

February 1868: pages 147 - 149


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 133

We hoped to take our leave of them in peace. We thought they would see that we were exercising our Christian freedom in fleeing from the persecution and spiritual deprivation, that each had chosen according to his circumstance and his conscience. We did not want to become sinful. For them the time and the right set of circumstances

coupled with their renewed hope made it inadvisable for them to emigrate.

In the appendix one can see in the published letters how the Breslau brothers assured us of their everlasting regard but remained by their opinion that emigration was sinful. We understood their position. In the end we saw that God the Lord was pleased by both groups, those who stayed in faith and those who left in equal faith. He blessed both groups and allowed His truth to light their way both in Germany and abroad.

Having come to this understanding Captain von Rohr, with the advice of Pastor Grabau and the various church administrators given in writing and verbally, began making plans for emigration.

Captain von Rohr travelled to nearly every congregation and discussed guiding principles with the administrators.

1.) As long as we had to remain in the fatherland, each individual would continue to attend church services in Christian union with his local Lutheran congregation, ever prepared to suffer for the sake of his religious profession.

2.) We must try to obtain legal permission to emigrate, however in the case of emergency or failing to obtain permission, we must be prepared to flee.

3.) We must ask the king to release Pastor Grabau so he can act as spiritual caregiver to the emigrants.

4.) We must be willing to take any pastor or pastoral candidate who wishes to emigrate as a matter of conscience.

5.) By January or February we shall elect 4 deputies, 2 from Pomeranian and 2 from Saxony and Thuringia.

It will be their responsibility to write down the most recent decisions and relay them to their local congregations for deliberation and ratification.

Captain von Rohr was also commissioned with the task of entering negotiations with Pastor Krause and the deputies of his 500-soul emigrating congregation. They would be in Hamburg until the end of 1838. He would see if it was possible to form a union so they would have two pastors. Pastor Krause was ready to join them but the difficulty here was that the congregation's deputy, Schultheiss was already involved in negotiations with transport company president Argos for passage to Australia.

Von Rohr was also supposed to enter negotations for uniting with the 700 Saxons under Stephan, his 5 to 7 pastors and an equal number of theological candidates, who were emigrating to America from Bremen. Attempts were made verbally and in writing but negotiations failed due to Stephan's arrogance. Stephan did not recognize the full investiture of the Prussian pastors and demanded that they be reordained. Von Rohr noticed there were many confused and fanatical opinions expressed by the 5 pastors as he conferred with Brothers Walther, Keyl, Loeber and Bürger for a day in Bremen and on the steamboat in Bremen harbor.

They were so deluded that they not only took in Pastor Stephan and defended him against all police and judicial charges regarding his character but they also declared that they had chosen him as their Esra, their first bishop and judge and even their chief administrator of the congregation's funds.

Totally astonished by their foolishness, von Rohr told them they had delivered themselves into the hands of a seducer and a false prophet,

who demanded from them a blending of the physical and spiritual regimes in contradiction to the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession. It was his hope, God willing, that they would soon see what a seducer Stephan was, that they would see how profoundly Stephan had fallen so their eyes would be opened.

Pastor Krause traveled on to New York and Buffalo, so the emigrants could only rely upon Pastor Grabau.

In February 1839 the deputies assembled in Berlin. The Pomeranian congregation had chosen sailor Martin Krüger and farmer David Helm. The congregations from Saxony and Berlin had chosen Captain von Rohr. The Thuringians had chosen oboist Wilhelm Bortfeld.

Their plans and resolutions were prepared amid prayers and pleadings unto God for His wisdom and guidance that they might act in accordance with His word and His will. The plans were presented to Pastor Grabau and all participating congregations. They were unanimously accepted. The following contains the recorded proceedings.

         Berlin, February 15, 1839.

The deputies of the emigrating congregations united under Pastor J.A.A. Grabau have, with the grace of God, our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, come to this agreement:

I. Concerning the regulations and principles under which we unite for the purpose of emigration and travel.

1.) We do not consider it in accordance with the holy scriptures to make it our goal to form a separate bourgeois community.

2.) We consider it sinful to require the establishment of communal property. May the Lord incline our hearts to see

the establishment of joint ownership as a voluntary gift of love and as an bestowal of His grace upon each in accordance with the measure of his faith. It shall not be a requirement for joining that each individual turn over all his assets or a specified portion of his assets to the community fund. As the apostle Peter said to Ananias in Acts 5, 4: "You could have kept your land" and thus not sin because of it.

3.) Based on the above principle money shall be collected from voluntary donations, put into the communal cash fund and made available for lending to the entire congregation. It will be considered a gift from our merciful Lord bestowing His grace in answer to our prayers. It will be used to pay for the passage costs to New York and the fee for each individual on board. To date there are 778 souls. (This number later rose to 1000 souls.)

A small sum remains in surplus so we may take several poor families with us. This sum might also serve for the journey onland to a place where work can be found. We consider it our duty to help our poorer brothers who want to flee with us for the sake of their faith. We will pray to the Lord in faith when we require more money to travel out of New York.

            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