Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 17, July & August 1869


July 1869: pages 33 - 35

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 Volume 17, page 19

Chapter V

The Emigration and Settlement of the Congregations of Pastors Kindermann in Wisconsin and Ehrenstrom in New York - 1843.

Reports of the cause of our emigration, King Friedrich Wilhelm II's written refusal to permit the Lutheran Church to exist outside of and next to his United National Church, had a great impact in all provinces of Prussia and even throughout northern Germany and England. As we had expected, the number within the true church of the faithful in Prussia increased rather than decreased due to fear of the German royal church. Those leaving the United Church

soon replaced those who emigrated.

In Pomerania, the Uckermark, Saxony, Thuringia, Berlin and Silesia the majority of the congregations came to the conclusion that not only was it permissible but indeed it was their right and duty to give to Caesar what was Caesar's, to leave the Kaiser's land and go to where the gospel was free from his influence. It stood to reason that a large portion of the Lutheran Christians would follow us. When King Friedrich Wilhelm III died in 1840 and his son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV assumed the throne, the new king understood this and he permitted the Lutheran Church a certain measure of tolerance as seen in the well-known "Act of General Concession," which granted tolerance towards the Lutherans of the Breslau Synod and those, who had left the United Church.

Open signs of persecution ceased, however the Lutheran Church was considered a sect and treated as such. Attendance at United Schools was still required where congregations could not hire a Lutheran school teacher. Few could afford it. Those who could were still under the auspices and authority of the United Church and so the Lutheran Church was reduced to becoming the maid of the false United Church. Churches with towers and bells were not permitted and public statements


against the United Church saying it was a false or non-church were still punishable by law.

The Breslau Synod became the most subservient, sanctioning attendance at United Schools and permitting the visitation of preachers from the United Church. In its Synodal Resolution of 1841 it stated that this was the path to follow. The next generation would be made into members of the United Church, thus losing their true faith and falling into apostasy. The Lutheran Christians in the Uckermark and Pomerania were also shocked that the Synodal Resolutions imposed a portion of the ministerial duties upon the congregation administrators - each would be responsible for an apportioned unit of the congregation. Furthermore the congregations would share in the pastor's power in office by voting in matters of acceptance or banning of congregation members. The Upper Church College had the power and authority to dismiss ministers. In conjunction with the Upper Church College the Breslau Synod circulated pamphlets stating that those who had emigrated were guilty of gross chiliastic heresy.

People were threatened with church discipline if they did not accept the Synodal Resolutions. In particular many perceived that they would be yoked in servitude to the national church and their children would be in danger of being seduced by it and lose their souls. Thus many Christians felt compelled to emigrate. Pastors Ehrenström and Kindermann lodged weak protests about signing the synodal resolutions. The most serious objections by the many knowledgable Christians in these congregations came after intense discussions and research into the symbolic books and the writings of Luther, Joh. Ahrends, Simon Pauli, Erdmann, Neumeister and many others.

They came to the aid of their pastors with decisive evidence against the synodal resolutions and thus refused to accept them. Through this process they were awakened and fortified, they rejected the resolutions and chose to emigrate.

Unfortunately the Upper Church College went to far as to demean the congregations' decision and enact decrees whereby the eucharist was withheld from those who chose to emigrate. The college suspended Pastor Kindermann and transferred him from Pomerania to Breslau in order the impede the emigration.

So it was at the end of 1842 that two emigrating congregations were formed under Pastors Ehrenström and Kindermann, the greater percentage of which came from the congregations these men served in Pomerania and the Uckermark.

The group from Pomerania came mostly from the areas in and around Camin, Stettin, Scharchow, Versin, Gramentz, Triglav, Treptow and Seehof.

The group from the Uckermark came from Brüssow, Bergholz, Wallmow, Plöwen, Angermünde, Hackenwald, etc. Some came from Nipperwiese in the Neumark.

In the beginning these groups consisted of those Christians who for the most part were displeased with their rationalist ministers as well as the lack of church discipline inherent to the United Church. They fled towards conventicle existence, towards the so-called private study-hour holders where they unfortunately heard only the works of pietistical writers such as Schubert, Franke and Rieger. These study-hour preachers included old Father Joh. Pfuhl, Father Völker and Joh. Hellert in Plöwen and Bergholz and Father Fr. Strassburg in Wallmow. The fanatic Baganz, once a carpenter then a school teacher, attempted to dissuade the group from emigration for pietistical reasons but he did not succeed. Last we heard of him he was a preacher in Baltimore during the 1840s.


In 1837 the congregation in Brüssow was visited by the tailor Fleck of the Breslau congregation. He provided the Brüssow congregation with the writings of Scheibel, the symbolic books and good old orthodox books of daily devotions. He acquainted them with the persecution of the Lutheran Church through the work The Lutheran Church in Prussia.

August Grobengiesser and his brother-in-law Friedrich Camann traveled from Brüssow to Berlin to meet the Lutheran congregation there. They were enrolled in the persecuted church by current superintendant Lasius, who visited Brüssow in 1838. The congregation appointed elders and began holding Lutheran church services in the home of wheelwright Justus Grobengiesser. On this occasion Lasius enrolled one other person. Church services were also held in the home of blacksmith Zinnendorf. The members of this congregations and those, who had joined from the outlying areas, formally withdrew from the United Church.

Lutheran church services were also held in private homes in Bergholz, Wallmow and Plöwen by Aug. Moll, Fr. Ferchen and Joh. Hellert. At the beginning of every 4-week period a general church service was held for the united congregations in Bergholz, Wallmow and Plöwen.

In 1841 the congregations sent brother Aug. Grobengiesser as deputy with Pastor Kindermann to the synod held in Breslau. Later the Upper College replaced Pastor Kindermann with Pastor Ehrenström and sent Kindermann to the Pomeranian congregation.

In 1843 under Pastor Kindermann's guidance the Pomeranians departed on many ships from Stettin.

They arrived in New York in September.

At the same time Ehrenström's congregation came to Buffalo via the Hamburg route. Ehrenström himself was detained in Hamburg and turned over to the Prussian authorities for his rebellious sermons against the United Church in Prussia.

               To be continued


August, 1869: pages 49 - 51

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 35

A candid declaration by Ehrenström follows here based on the convictions of his Christian followers and the presentation of historical church documents:

A Declaration

The Synodal Resolutions of the Breslau General Synod of 1841 have many great flaws:

1) They contain false teaching. On page 91 it states, "that it is separatism when an individual has misgivings about receiving the eucharist from a pastor whom he suspects of false teaching. It is separatism if he leaves for another Lutheran parish or another country."

The meaning of these words as expressed by the previous sentence are these: if a pastor proclaims false teachings,

you should still consider him your pastor and receive the sacraments from him if he follows a Lutheran agenda.

Fortunately the Lutheran Church does not exist merely by an agenda but by and in doctrine which agrees with the written documents of our faith. According to the Breslau resolutions all Lutherans must go to United preacher to receive the eucharist just in case he serves the older agenda. The Lutheran Church would still exist even if its profession of faith went completely against established teaching. Thus it states that all heresy is covered beneath the cloak of the older agenda and given legal protection.

This synodal resolution contradicts the word of God and the teachings of Dr. Luther in Titus 3,10; 2 Corinthians 6, 14-18; Matthew 7, 15; 2 John 1, 10-11; Galatians 1,9.

Dr. Luther states, "When someone has public knowledge that his spiritual caregiver teaches Zwingli doctrine, that individual should avoid the minister, not receive the sacrament from him and be willing to endure all hardship and even death."

N.B. I speak these words from memory but they fairly approximate Luther's statement.

2) Conduct yourself in a subtle manner in the Union net. Page 82: Should we be grateful for situations whereby parents


send their children for comprehensive instruction in United Schools? This seems to prove the theory that people are indifferent to United School instruction. Schools do not just teach science-based curricula. Christian schools follow a three-part instructional program: 1. fear of God; 2. respect and discipline; 3. science-based subjects. The first two parts happen behind the scenes and only the third portion of the curriculum is conducted in an open and preceivable manner. In good conscience no one should send his child to a United School. We do not just educate our baptized children for the secular world. We prepare them for heaven. Anyone who thinks we should send our children to these schools would permit the poison of false doctrine and bad behavior to rip the hearts out of our children. Such people deny the power of sin and the corruption of the human heart. Page 87 provides the United School's revisions of exams for our children being confirmed. Thus the Lutheran Church is reduced to a maid of the United Church.

On page 95 United Church tax assessments were placed upon the Lutherans. These so-called real property taxes on land, etc. originally went to the Lutheran Church. We were not willing to make such offerings for the benefit of a strange church. How could Lutherans build with one hand while they destroyed with the other hand?

All the legal pleading could do nothing to ease the conscience. The United Church is a false church and whoever supports it even minimally is, in my eyes, no longer a Lutheran. I can only say what is in my heart.

Shall we build their schools and churches, support their false ministry or be proper Lutherans and foes of the Union? Examine the Schmalcaldic Articles from start to finish. However they, the bishops, should consider etc. *

Page 94: To a certain extent attendance at United Church services or audience to United preaching is formally established. In short the resolutions seem to yield to the United Agenda as demonstrated by the comment that many Lutheran pastors have found much good in the United Church.

They speak Calvinism. On page 54 it states they would be zealously carried forward by the reformists and not remain without blessing. The church constitution would come from the Reform Church, which has false teachings. Preference would be given to it over the Lutheran Church. Indeed, this constitution would be quite a blessing.

______

* Then, as now, we are still not in agreement on this point. However we believe it is the duty of a Christian to pay taxes on land he purchases or inherits to the authorities presiding over him. The authorities are responsible for how the taxes are used, not us! On the other hand, then and now it went against our profession of faith to pay taxes directly to the United Church based on a mandate it issued stating that those Lutherans, who withdrew from the Union, still belonged to it and under fear of penalty were forced to pay taxes to the United preacher. Those who paid certainly denied it because to pay meant that they belonged to a United parish.
          - Comment by the Editor. Return to text


I am unable to convince myself that a church, whose teachings are corrupt and which does not have the proper teaching concerning the concept of church, can have a proper constitution. The entire Reform Church has the tinge of political machination. Let one consult the following passages: Jacob 3: 11 and 12; Matthew 7: 17-18.

4) There are several other points, which I will condense for the sake of brevity and which I will leave to each individual to examine. In cases of church discipline majority vote will decide. Those barred from receiving the eucharist shall still remain members of the congregation. Church discipline takes a back seat to state-established laws so it seems the government intends the annihilation of the Lutheran Church. Our schools would be subject to inspections by the state without assurances that they would not be eliminated. United ministers might be assigned to them. It seems to me that more value is being placed on the synodal resolutions than on the symbolic books, and just as it is in the Reform Church, the constitution plays a larger role and carries more weight than doctrine. I see the Lutheran Church in Prussia being designated a pietistical philosophy by the government as the pure orthodox teachers of our church fall under the auspices of men unknown to us. These men have unlimited power and they're wielding the sword of spirituality with the Union monster behind them, standing in the rift and proclaiming that orthodoxy is dead. In this church just about every

religous denomination has its place, be it separatist, chiliastic, Moravian, fashionable Union or pietistical. No matter which denomination it is, all sides seem to be working against the good old Wittenberg contingent.

I will never be able to agree with the synodal resolutions. Unfortunately it is my experience that all those unwilling to comply due to conscientious objection will be viewed as suspicious characters and indeed as rebel spirits banned from the church community. In a letter from the Upper Church College I have learned that everyone, who does not accept the synodal resolutions even after an indoctrinal session, shall be banned. In keeping with my conscience I see only one course of action left to me. I hereby renounce the Synodal Resolutions and formally withdraw from the confederacy of churches, which acknowledge these resolutions as their guiding principles.

God the Lord knows that I do not take this step happily. He knows that I have done battle with myself over it for a long time. I remained silent hoping that the matter would resolve itself differently, that one would be able to interpret them in a different light or suspend them until a new synod convened and counter-arguments could be heard. I am forced to take this step because of the behavior of the church authorities, plus I do not wish to appear ambiguous on this matter. With this, my public profession of faith, may the Lord our God bestow His blessing upon His church. Amen. Amen.

                  Ehrenström, Pastor
      Hamburg, April 22, 1843.


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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