Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 17, November & December 1869

November 1869: pages 97 - 99


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 84

A portion of Ehrenström's congregation, which came from Wallmow in the Ukermark, had settled on farmland they purchased 2 miles north of Bergholz and 9 miles from Niagara Falls. Their number later rose by a few score. They called the settlement New Walmore.

A third portion of his congregation from Nipperwiese and the surrounding area settled 4 miles east of Tonawanda on the Erie Canal, where on the advice of attorney and judge Clinton in Buffalo and school teacher at the time, H. von Rohr, they purchased a sizable piece of land from the late landowner Vanderwood. They gave this settlement the name Martinsville.

Pastor Kindermann's congregation,

which come primarily from Pomerania in the region of Camin, settled in 3 areas of Wisconsin 6 miles northwest of Freystatt and some 20 miles from Milwaukee. The greater portion settled in Kirchheyn, a small area near Watertown, and the smaller number became the first settlers in Cedarburg. This region in Ozaukee County was still mostly primal forest at the time. Even today you can still buy this land at the government-price of $1.25 per acre.In 1839 von Rohr and the miller Türk explored this region along the Indian trails with the help of a compass.

Around the end of 1843 began the encroachment of the Saxon-Missouri preachers by the construction of counter altars!

In 1843 they had sent Pastor Grabau a hostile critique of his Pastoral Letter *, thus beginning a lengthy theological dispute. Their emnity towards us was apparent when they sent theological candidate Klügel on Pastor Walther's recommendation to Milwaukee to gather up our fallen and excommunicated members and build a counter-congregation. To this day the candidate


* In 1849 they published the letter and their response under the title "Pastoral Letter of Pastor Grabau" along with his anti-critique of 1844 and their response. Return to text

acts as minister to them and is acknowledged as their pastor without having been ordained. And this was even though they knew that he taught Calvinist doctrine concerning predestination. This gang originated in part from the Silesians who had been members of Pastor Krause's congregation and who had moved from Buffalo. Many were seduced members of Pastor Kindermann's newly arrived congregations in Watertown and Cedarburg. They wanted Pastor Kindermann to dissolve the ties they had with Pastors Grabau and Krause because of the Pastoral Letter. When the Kindermann read the letter to them and stated that it contained nothing contrary to God's word they withdrew from him and turned to Pastor Walther, who gave them the right to make inquiries without Pastor Kindermann, consult with Walther's ministerial brothers, ordain the theological candidate Geyer and appoint him pastor. The reason for the emnity towards Pastors Kindermann and Krause were these: In a written response to Löber and Walther, Kindermann and Krause found fault with Missouri's doctrine concerning the holy office of minister as expressed in the critique of the Pastoral Letter and the Parochial Orders of 1839 and 1840. They also complained about the sending of theological candidate Klügel. Kindermann and Krause received a hostile letter of reproach stating that Pastor Krause had committed an injustice by not permitting Klügel to dispute the charges of Calvinist heresy before the Freystatt congregation.

Later Geyer's opposition congregation split into three groups, one of which chose school teacher Pankow as its minister. The other elected former non-commissioned officer Hackendorff. When the Missouri Synod condemned this action Preacher Pankow supposedly responded as follows: The congregation exercised the right given to it by Missouri doctrine and chose to give him [Pankow] the right to preach and administer the sacrament as its

spiritual priest. He issued no further challenges and is acknowledged the congregation's pastor to this day. Certainly this is in accordance with the Parochial or Congregational Order which states:

In paragraph 2, "Through baptism each individual becomes a priest, a king and a prophet of God," Revelations 1, verses 5 and 7, etc.

In paragraph 3, "In the church of the New Testament there is no particular priestly caste. Where there is a congregation, there is an office and each member of the congregation is capable of administering the wealth of the church; this applies to all operations within the office such as preaching, baptising, administering the holy eucharist, absolving, etc."

In paragraph 4, "Each individual has rights, however within a community no individual can or may claim his rights above those of others without infringing upon their rights."

Paragraph 5, "For this reason God established the holy preaching office and commanded the church to turn over its rights by ordination to one or more individuals, who would administer them and be householders of God's mysteries."

Paragraph 6, "Without ordained appointment no one shall publically teach or administer the holy sacraments."

Paragraph 7, "Since all Christians are spiritual priests, in the case of extreme need laymen may also conduct the duties of the office."

In his Miscellan sermons the late Erdmann Neumeister had this to say on the subject (In the sermon concerning Zacharia XIV, verses 20 and 21.)

"Above all else people should not confuse the priesthood (of the faithful) with the ministerial office. They are entirely different matters. If they are not distinguished one from the other, the horror of devastation will arise within the church. This is one of the major errors

"in the doctrine of the Quakers, the Anabaptists and other fanatics who agree with the Pietists that each member of the spiritual priesthood has the right to teach and to preach. As God Himself indicates, men should not come together as individuals but merge into one union. God did not appoint the entire congregation, rather first he appointed the apostles, then the prophets and thirdly the teachers in accordance with 1 Corinthians 12, 27. Christ assigned certain tasks to the apostles, other tasks to the prophets, evangelists, the pastors and the teachers and directed these holy people to conduct the office through the body of Christ (which is the congregation) in accordance with Ephesians 4, 11." Thus speaks E. Neumeister.

Don't these words in conjunction with the narrative given above concerning Missouri's tenets confirm our claim that the Synod of Buffalo has been persecuted by Missouri for the past 23 years? By confusing the spiritual priesthood with the holy preaching office haven't they created horrible devastation in the church for the past 26 years? The continuation of our history's narrative will provide further evidence.


Chapter VI.

The Establishment of the Synod of the Prussian Emigrant Church or Congregation, 1845

         To be continued

December 1869: pages 113 - 115


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 99


Chapter VI.

The Establishment of the Synod of the Prussian Emigrant Lutheran Church or Congregation, 1845

Around this time our 4 pastors and the congregations decided to form a synod, to which were invited only those pastors and congregations who stood united with us in teaching and practice as established by the old Pomeranian and Saxon Church Orders. Pastor Brohm was invited to join as the fifth pastor upon his installation into office at our congregation in New York. However since we indicated that we could not invite the Saxon pastors [of Missouri] to join us because they had sent gang preachers

to our congregations, Pastor Brohm declined the invitation and persuaded our congregation in New York to join with the Saxon pastors in Missouri.

Our first synodal assembly was held partly in Freystatt and partly in Milwaukee from June 12th to the 25th, 1845. The pastors in attendance were J.A.A. Grabau of Buffalo, L.E. Fr. Krause of Freystatt and Milwaukee, G.A. Kindermann of Kirchhayn and H.C.G. von Rohr, pastor of Humberston in western Canada.

The deputies were Friedrich Lüdke for Buffalo and Eden; Friedrich Haseley for New Bergholz, Walmore and Martinsville; Michael Heuer, Carl Wille, Johann Knuth, Michael Bellin, August Lemke, August Radue, Peter Block and Michael Helm for Freystatt; Martin Bru[?] for Milwaukee; Karl Retzlaw, Christian Wolt, Gottfried Kressin and Friedrich Heideke for Kirchhayn; Johann Hackenbarth for the filial congregation of Pastor Kindermann in Watertown and Cedarburg.

In the first paragraph of the Synodal Letter it was acknowledged that Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession alone defines the congregations of the true church of God on earth in that they must have both pure teaching and the sacraments. Due to their impure teaching and false sacraments all sects

lie outside the true church because they do not obey divine revelation. In accordance with our old, righteous-faith teaching the Evangelical-Lutheran Church shall be recognized as the only true church of God on earth, confining its membership and congregations to proper professors of the faith.

This is and remains the major point of dispute between us and all those of United Agenda and Pietistical sentiment currently existing within the so-called Lutheran Church itself. Despite his withdrawal from the United Church of Prussia, the most esteemed Dr. Scheibel still taught that the 7 congregations in the Revelations of St. John are reflected in the 7 current denominations of the Christian church. Among these denominations he includes the Moravians. We had submitted our evidence in opposition to this theory in Glauchau in 1838.

In subsequent paragraphs there were reports on the gangs in our midst which rebeled against the pure teachings in the Dresden Catechism, on Ehrenström's fall, on the disputes with the Saxon preachers, on what we had claimed was heretical in the Breslau Synodal Letter of 1840, and on the current state of the Lutheran churches in North America, which in the beginning had striven towards an earnest profession of faith but which had progressed into such a confused mixture of reform principles that reform preachers could acknowledge them as brothers in Christ.

All the fallen were asked to let us convince them of the baselessness of their charges of false teaching and they were invited to provide proofs of their allegations. If they were willing to acknowledge that our synod was righteous and had a proper church court,

then they could also present any personal grievances they had with our pastors. In turn our pastors would gladly submit to the decision of the synod.

The initial attempt to convince them of their errors in doctrine accomplished nothing. At the first session they asserted they were unlearned people incapable of carrying on debate. They left the synod. Only a few families repentantly returned.

The synod decided not to suspend the church congregations with Saxon preachers provided they cast the gang preachers out of Wisconsin and no longer defended the theory of independence of the individual church congregations as expressed in the Church Order of 1839. The synod sent a letter to these congregations in an attempt at reconciliation with them, however it received a scornful reply. This letter and the response are in the book containing Pastor Grabau's Pastoral Letter as it was published by Löber and other pastors in 1849.

By the end of the synod our Christian constitution and church regulations were ratified and accepted by all the congregations.

"And because God is a God of order and God's blessing can only exist among us through good Christian order, the synod has unanimously recommended that our congregations accept the Old Lutheran Ministerial Constitution, thus uniting themselves into a single entity. All those present and those pastors and deacons yet to come, shall have equal rights and responsibilities and together they shall form a church ministry. Their function with regard to our church and our congregations and their relationship with each individual congregation shall be further defined and recorded at a later time after receiving the approval of all the congregations.

"Thus each congregation has 1) its local church administration; 2) the church ministry of all pastors; 3) the synod of assembled local churches, where it can ask for Christian advice and seek necessary help."

The congregations had never before received such a comprehensive church order. Over the course of time our guiding principle was further elaborated in the 5th, 7th and 9th synodal letters and Grabau's article, Concerning Church Regime, which was acknowledged as correct at our 9th Synod:

Our church shall be regulated by the church ministry under Christ and His regal regime and it shall rule as His ministry in accordance with His word. It shall be based on the exalted example of the congregation at Alexandria as described in the Smalcaldic Articles. This ministry, in conjunction with the entire synod composed of all pastors and deputies, shall act as representatives and householders of our particular churches and be acknowledged as their church court.

At a synodal assembly it is believed in principle that opinions rendered in accordance with God's word by householders shall have the same rights and powers as the opinions of the doctrinal scholars (provided the householder is there in accordance with the rules of the governing body.)

Furthermore questions concerning teaching and faith shall not be determined by mere majority vote but by unanimous decision through the power of God's word following elucidation and inquiry into the tenets of faith and their correlation to our symbolic books. On the other hand with regard to synodal ordering, in accordance with the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession the bishops are empowered to create regulations

which may be presented to the synod for its consideration and approval. Acceptance of these regulation may be achieved through majority vote. For the sake of charity and peace the minority within the synod shall yield to the majority, after which all synodal members shall take these orders to all the congregations for their acceptance. Essentially we will follow the same procedure in cases of congregational orders, which local congregations create for themselves alone.

At our first synodal session Pastor J.A.A. Grabau was chosen senior minister or chairman by the ministry as a first among equals. The choice was confirmed by the synod.

         To be continued

Go to January & February 1870

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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