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.
Additional Testimony from our 2nd and 3rd Synodal Letters: 1848 - 1851
Our second synodal session was held in July 1848 in Buffalo and it consisted of 5 pastors. Over the course of 3 years only one pastor had been added to the group, Pastor Friedrich Jacob Müller who had been appointed by the congregation in Humberston, Canada and who was specifically ordained for that posting. From 1839 to 1847 Müller had served in Buffalo as school teacher, cantor and organist and he was the oldest student at our preparatory seminary, having studied there for 7 years.
The deputies were Johann Dreus from the Buffalo congregation, August
Grobengiesser from New Bergholz, Christian Wendt from New Walmore, Fr. Grosskopf from Milwaukee, Phil. Rauch from Eden, Johannes Weidmann from Humberston, Fr. Heidtke from Kirchhayn and Fr. Lüedke from Freystatt.
In the 2nd Synodal Letter one will also find a 90-page refutation of Missouri's teachings on transference as published in its 2nd Synodal Letter of 1848. The refutation contains proof that Missouri's teachings are the same as the pietisitcal teachings of Spener as exemplified by their new church orders of 1839, part 1, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, as well as their synodal report of 1848.
"Each member of the congregation, as a member, is able and authorized to administer the church's property, to publically and validly conduct the ministerial office, to preach, baptise, distribute the holy eucharist, give absolution, etc."
Indeed the reasoning for this statement in paragraph 2 comes from scripture because through baptism each man becomes a priest, a king and a prophet according to Revelations 1, 5; 6, 1; and Peter 2, 9.
And then to make the preaching office seem plausible they say in paragraph 5. "God established the holy preaching office and commended it to the church so that one or more persons may be properly ordained to administer its rights or act as householders
"over God's mysteries."
The Wittenberg theologians stated in their letter of censure against Spener in 1665 on pages 156 and 157:
"We believe, teach and profess that ordained vocation is essential to the preaching office in accordance with the Augsburg Confession. Note well that without ordained vocation no one may publically teach in the church. Hebrews 5,4." Further on, "By contrast, Dr. Spener merely introduces and reaffirms general Christian vocation as the basis for his priesthood. On page 4 of the Evangelical Doctrine of Faith he alleges that the source of said teaching office is derived through holy baptism."
In his Wochenarbeit [Weekly Piece or Work] Erdmann Neumeister states in part III, page 1003, "We immediately ascend to the priesthood through baptism since we become children of God, however one must have ordained appointment to ascend to the preaching office."
And Luther states in part V, page 1505, Walch edition:
"In Christianity one must be a Christian, born into the priesthood, before one can become a preacher or a bishop. The individual is a priest through baptism and from there he may approach the office thus differentiating himself from other Christians."
Missouri has held fast to false teaching on transference in its Consensus on Church Office, part 2 - thesis 7.
"The holy preaching office is the investiture of authority, delivered by God and transferred through the congregation, which exists as the collective priesthood and owner of all church power.
"Through this transfer of authority the minister assumes the rights of the spiritual priesthood to publically exercise the office on behalf of the congregation."
On page 12 of the protocol for the Buffalo Colloquium one reads how Professor Walther contradicted this. On page 14 one reads that the preaching office was merely established by God as a means of ordering; Walther also alleges that the spiritual priest or each baptised individual has the right the publically preach. Then he remains firm in his stance that the congregation confers no other offices than those it already possesses just as a housefather does not lose his rights when he confers the right of householder upon an individual.
He then holds fast to the erroneous doctrine that each Christian has the right to preach, to baptise, etc., by virtue of his baptism but he may choose to transfer that authority because the loving God has commanded the transference in order to avoid confusion.
We turn now to the 3rd Synodal Letter of 1851. This synod was held in Buffalo in September 1851.
Over the course of three years 2 pastors joined us, Professor J. Fr. Winkler with his congregation in Detroit and the filial congregation in Macomb county, 10 miles west of Detroit, and the late Pastor E.A.H. Lange, who was educated at the preparatory seminary and ordained for the congregation in Eden near Buffalo. P. Wier of Rochester, New York also attended as a guest. The deputies were Christoph Schmelzer of Buffalo, Gotthilf Ziemer for Kirchhayn, Cedarburg and Watertown, August Grobengiesser of Bergholz, Daniel Page of Martinsville, Fr. Haseley of Walmore, Jacob Murrer of Detroit, Gottfried Kaufmann of Macomb County, Michigan, Fr. Lüdtke for Freystatt and Milwaukee,
Phil. Rauch of Eden, Nicolaus Weidmann from Humberston, Canada.
The most important items in this synodal letter along with a doctrine-rich article, titled The visible and invisible Church, are reports on the fall and excommunication of Pastor Krause, who went over to the Missouri synod, and the cultivation of two new gangs by Missouri Synod preachers. One of these gangs rose up in Detroit and the other in Professor Winkler's filial congregation in Macomb County. This second gang's numbers have risen sharply because many families from Bergholz and St. Johnsburg bought land there on the advice and with the guidance of Professor Winkler. Another report on the origins of these gangs was written by Professor Winkler and published in the first and second volumes of our Kirchliches Informatorium under the title "Satan's Devastation in the Church of God."
We give a summary of that report here.
In 1845 Professor F. Winkler was appointed to the German Evangelical Lutheran ongregation of St. Matthew in Detroit. In its constitution the congregation affirmed its adherence to the 11th Article of the Augsburg Confession. After much study and consideration private confession came into general practice within the congregation until 1850. Only a few union-minded individuals still preferred general confession so the practice was maintained for them. A large number of people from Buffalo moved to Detroit including a portion of those individuals who had been excommunicated for their unwholesome lifestyles and gangster-type separation from the congregations. In 1850 these people joined with the union-minded foes of private confession. There were seven of them - 4 from Buffalo and 3 unionists - who registered a complaint with the pastor and issued a demand for
|the lifting of the ban of excommunication which had been in place against them all for the past year. In cases of disunity between the pastor and the congregation members the constitution stated that the synod or a committee should hold a church court session. However since the congregation did not belong to a synod the pastor proposed the formation of a committee in accordance with the constitution. The committee would consist of one member from the group of those accused and one individual from the group of those making the accusation, who together would elect a third committee member. Professor Winkler chose Pastor Grabau and the accused had turned to Professor Walter [sic] without informing Porfessor Winkler, who had made many useless attempts asking the accused to name their committee member. Winkler expected them to turn to the Buffalo Synod since a portion of their group was always in favor of Buffalo and in the past they had lodged their complaints about their pastor to Pastor Grabau. However Buffalo refused to get involved unless it was called upon by the pastor. Unexpectedly Pastor Crämer, now a professor in Fort Wayne, showed up on May 2, 1850 as Professor Walther's envoy. He went to Professor Winkler's house and reprimanded him. Crämer set the committee meeting for the Pentacost Tuesday or Thursday after the 2nd Trinity Sunday. When Crämer came back for that meeting he did not stay at the home of his befriended brother in office but at the home of the chief gang member, whose number of supporters had risen to 14 people. Meetings were held in this house. There was discussion. Matters of arbitration were undertaken. He supported these people in their attempt to seize the church for themselves. He went with them to various attorneys for this specific purpose. He stayed with these members of his ministerial brother's congregation and gave instruction on the dispute over private confession.|
|Pastor Grabau stated that he could not sit on a committee with the pastors from Missouri because of the differences concerning the office of the key and private absolution; these were doctrinal matters in which the committee members themselves were at odds. Crämer had expressed similar sentiments concerning Pastor Winkler. Therefore a committee could not be formed. He proposed that both congregations join a synod to act as their church courts. He expounded on the doctrinal differences between the Buffalo and the Missouri Synods then left the matter for the congregations to decide. The rural congregation in Macomb County, now called Roseville, was unanimous in its decision to join the Buffalo synod. Despite the protests of the seven plaintiffs, in the Detroit congregations there were just as many votes cast for the Buffalo as there were for Missouri. The plaintiffs had more voters however the others did not cast their ballots. Since there was no decisive vote for Missouri it was unanimously decided to join the Buffalo Synod. On June 7th Pastor Winkler informed Pastor Crämer that no committee session would be held. Despite this fact Crämer appeared and stated that he had been called by the people. Professor Winkler invited Crämer to come alone with him to the church administrators to hear an account of the entire course of events. Crämer appeared with 4 gang members. Professor winkler expressly forbade such a visit. Crämer pushed his way beyond the porch into the house to speak with the administrators gathered in the parlor and to win them to his side. There was so much shouting that the entire neighborhood was drawn out to witness the racket, which lasted for nearly an hour. One administrator in extreme irritation finally shouted, "Mr. Crämer, I do not acknowledge you as a preacher.||
Go back to Detroit and play the godless fool for the mob over there."
Professor Winkler described the matter further on page 21 of the first volume of the Informatorium. "From then on Mr. Crämer conducted his gangster persona quite openly and unashamedly. He held meeting after meeting with the gang and on June 19th under his guidance and instruction a letter of withdrawal was issued to Pastor Winkler signed by 16 people. Twice Pastor Winkler and the church administrators refused to accept the letter, burning it instead to make it known that they would have nothing to do with the gang leader, Crämer. The 16 gangsters printed the letter as a street pamphlet and posted it at the street corner and at the church. On June 29th they published the same pamphlet in the newspapers with their signatures at the bottom. Just how dreadful such gangster mentality truly is was demonstrated by Mr. Crämer. In his desire to assure the people of Detroit he seemed to have lost all sense of propriety or shame. Day after day he rushed about, either going with the gangsters to lawyers to see if they could rob the congregation of its church property or cavorting with the most hostile foes of the church, with writers of satirical verse and the beer drinkers, or wandering the streets alone with a beret on his head and a cigar in his mouth. Whenever he met people he told them the lawyers had advised that he not file a suit because 'Professor Winkler was a lawyer and they would not win a case against him.' However this is a downright lie. No American lawyer would say such a thing,
"not even the most incompetent. Besides which, Winkler is a German preacher. And we know that Mr. Crämer had not been with incompetent lawyers.
"On another occasion there will be further discussion of the filthy and malicious article released by the gang to a German socialist newspaper. Part dealt with Pastor Winkler alone and other parts dealt with him and the congregation. In time it will also become apparent what part the gangster priesthood played in the production of this filthy article.
"The Buffalo Synod had thus received its appointment to hold a church court with Pastors Grabau, v. Rohr and Kindermann investigating the Detroit matter. The congregation indicated both verbally and in writing its decision to join the synod. The investigation took place from the 26th to the 30th of July (1850.) The court sessions lasted all day and a greater portion of the night. Anyone with a complaint concerning the pastor was invited to attend. The 7 plaintiffs appeared with almost the entire gang. Long investigations were held with them in the evenings. They wanted the synod to dismiss Winkler and appoint another minister. The church court stated that God willing, this might occur (specifically formal dismissal) but first the complaints against the pastor must be investigated. If the pastor was found not guilty then he would be acquitted, however if he was guilty he would be made to repent so that Christian reconciliation would take place. When the gang saw that they would not prevail once the facts concerning their dreadful deeds were brought to light during the investigation, they stated that
"they did not recognize the legitimacy of the court. However for the sake of the pastors and congregations belonging to the synod the investigation was carried on to its conclusion and the findings were accepted by the pastor and the congregation.
"In accordance with the old Lutheran church orders the gang members received written notice of censure from the church court and were subject to church disciplinary action.
"Mr. Crämer and Pastor Hattstädt of Monroe immediately began to preach to these sin-steeped people and administer the holy eucharist to them without further ado.
"On September 22, 1850 the excommunicated gang members tried once again to break into the church and the school acompanied by the sheriff, the constable, some lawyers, et.al. The members of the congregation had to watch over their church and school property in broad daylight (with legal help) as though protecting themselves from a band of robbers. The excommunicated appointed their own gang priest, a man by the name of Schaller, who carried on their notorious work and in turn was seduced to sin. - And the Missouri Synod called this godless existence good, giving aid, bestowing praise, lending money, envisioning how it was expanding the church of Christ!
"They will not succeed, for in His own time God will destroy them for not turning from this course.
"We hope to God that there are still a few righteous preachers left in the Missouri Synod who do not agree with this course of action and we pray to the Lord that He will make them strong enough to stand up against it. We also beseech God that He may bring
"these and other souls misled into sin by this newspaper article back to true acknowledgement of their sins and repentant reform.
"How soon does death come? A soul deeply involved in the dreadful actions mentioned above has already gone over the edge - without reconciling himself with the church! The gang preacher called this soul blessed!
"It caused us great sorrow and now, after a year's hesitation, prompted by many requests and spurred on by events of ponderous weight, we find we must reveal the horror within the church caused by this article. How can the church of God recognize the tricks used by Satan in this country to incite gangster existence and learn to fight against it in holy earnest if it remains silent about what it has already experienced? God help the church! He is the light and the shield! Amen!"
J. Fr. Winkler,
So many stories concerning the building of Missouri's opposition congregation and the construction of a counter-altar in Detroit by Missouri preachers. Anyone could be a guest at the feast of the eucharist without even making a contribution to become a member. This opposition congregation has grown so much over the past 19 years because of its unionist practices that it built a larger church, which now stands under the leadership of Missouri Preacher Hugli. He accepts with open arms those people who have run to him because they are subject to our church discipline.
April 1870: pages 177 - 181
The 4th Missouri Synod of 1850 decided to postpone any formal statement concerning its gangster-type interference with our troubled members until the next synodal session when a paper prepared by a committee and by Professor Walther would be presented. The paper would give justifiable reasons for its interference and everyone would supposedly agree that they had been correct in accepting those people, who had separated from or been excommunicated by the Buffalo Synod in Milwaukee, Freystatt, Kirchhayn, Watertown, Cedarburg, etc., and in sending them preachers. These opposition preachers - Bürger, Ernst, and Keyl - were commissioned to assemble the evidence from our excommunicants.
In the interim opposition preacher Schaller was appointed to Detroit, Krause and then Gräber
were appointed to Macomb County. Professor Winkler was greatly impressed by another group of Missouri preachers in neighboring Saginaw County, Michigan when a conference was held there, attended by Pastors Sievers, Gräbner, Auch and Bayerlein. On May 30, 1851 this conference sent a letter to the president of the Missouri Synod in which they respectfully yet earnestly delivered a reprimand because the synod had unjustly seized Pastor Winkler's congregation in Detroit and urged the appointment of Schaller and Krause to the ministerial posts.They stated that appointing a minister to a group of people under the ban was not a godly act. Rather it was a godless and sinful act. However the Missouri Synod did not investigate and no one approached them about it. Mr. Schaller immediately recorded the testimony of the gangleaders and rebels within Pastor Winkler's congregation (in volume 7, issue 10, of the Lutheran published December 1850). Among other things this testimony slandered the ministerial office and the good name of the congregation, etc. One of the pastors (Bayerlein) commented on this article, saying that he would not base any decision on mere hearsay; rather he had seen and experienced the spirit of rebellion for himself in Pastor Winkler's congregation.
See Volume 3, page 45 of the Informatorium.
On May 21, 1851 Pastor Winkler further elaborated: "Members of the above-named conference came to Detroit on their way to the synod. Pastors Sievers, Clöter, Auch and Bayerlein visited Professor Winkler and asked to see the documents concerning the history of the Detroit gang. This writer asked his church ministry for advice. The response was, 'Give them everything.'
"On Trinity Sunday, June 15, 1851 Pastors Clöter and Bayerlein came to Professor Winkler's house. They had chosen not to attend the dedication ceremony for Schaller's gang temple, which also took place on that day. Pastors Sievers and Auch had been detained on their journey. That evening the visitors received the entire set of records produced by our synod's church court concerning the proceedings held July 12th through 30th 1850 with the testimony of those with complaints and accusations. (See the 3rd Synodal Letter, page 61, etc.) A few members of the congregation happened to be present. The visit lasted past midnight. The matter was further examined on the following morning and throughout the day. Professor Winkler complained that the Missouri Synod had gone out its way to get a foothold in his congregation in order to have some influence over our synod.
"The pastors stated their agreement:
"'For years now their synod has deemed it their task to drive the Buffalo Synod into the ground no matter the cost. They even believed
"they were doing God a service by annihilating it. However I had to trust that there were still many honorable pastors, especially younger one who wanted to do what was right and that this plan was something developed by Walther alone and they knew nothing about it.'
"It was Pastor Bayerlein, who spoke these words and Pastor Clöter sat there and offered no contradiction. Such honorable and open testimony seemed important enough for me to write it down, etc.
"I was all the more inclined to believe the statements by these visitors because for them coming to an understanding of the events in the Detroit congregation was a serious issue and a matter of faith. It made me all the more willing to produced every document, piece of testimony, etc. that they asked for or needed. They stayed at my house from Sunday evening until Friday morning and I can attest to the fact that they took great pains to gain a basic understanding of the matter. On Thursday I asked them if they needed any clarification on any point. 'No,' was the response. 'We understand completely!' (They were not evil gossips as Mr. Crämer had said.) They then composed the following report for their synod. "Most Reverend Members of the Synod!
"We have stayed here for a few days in order to sufficiently acquaint ourselves with the course of events and to examine the documents of the Detroit church. This as decided unanimously on May 21st and 22nd at the conference in Frankenmuth attended by Pastors Röbbelen, Sievers, Clöter, Auch and Bayerlein. Having accomplished this,
"permit us to submit our results following the steps proscribed on page 34 of the the 4th Synodal Letter.
"No. 1. There are many congregation members upset in the belief that Professor Winkler rules over the congregation, that he autocratically and unjustly applies the ban. They had presented their complaints but they were not heard. He had requested that they put them in writing."
The issue pertained to seven members of Professor Winkler's congregation, who came to his house on March 4, 1850 with the demand that they be allowed to read something to him. The letter contained the following:
They complained about the gross misuse of church discipline. They demanded that Professor Winkler reevaluate the situation and on the next Sunday rescind the bans applied over the past year. If this did not happen they would seek assistance from other quarters. Pastor Winkler asked them to sign the document and hand over a valid copy to him.
No. 2. "Pastor Winkler declared that this was an accusation against him which could only be decided by a committee. However the seven congregation members said they did not want to file a complaint; they merely wanted to remind the pastor of God's word."
It is obvious that the letter contained 1. a complaint; 2. a demand; 3. a threat expressed in the crudest manner. There was no mention of God's word. Professor Winkler declared that upon repeated examination he found no proof that the ban had been unjustly applied in any of the cases.
The matter should be brought before a righteous-faith church court as proscribed by the constitution.
No.3. "Pastor Crämer had give written notice of his arrival in Detroit, however when he arrived he was sorry to hear that Pastor Winkler had not been made aware of this visit."
Pastor Crämer had indeed informed the dissatisfied people but he did not give notice to Pastor Winkler. Perhaps the people commissioned to inform the pastor still had their letters at home. Upon Crämer's arrival they alleged the letters had arrived the day before from the post office. However Pastor Crämer did not go directly to Pastor Winkler's house upon his arrival. Instead Crämer went behind his back and held an assembly first. On the second day towards evening Pastor Crämer went to Pastor Winkler but not to offer an explanation. Instead he went to punish and to force discussion. During the entire affair Pastor Crämer did not act as one called to investigate but as an advocate for the opposing party.
No. 4. "The complaints centered on the issue of having the matter decided by an impartial court. Those filing the complaints stated they could not join Buffalo because of differences in faith but they were on friendly terms with our synod."
These sentences contain at least two untruths: a) the malcontents had complained to Pastor Grabau in Buffalo about Pastor Winkler through a man by the name of Ludewig; they had vehemently demanded that he (Pastor Winkler) join a righteous-faith synod although the group was split as to the meaning of "righteous-faith." b) In the congregational assemblies held to discuss this matter
there was no mention of the Missouri Synod.
No.5. We believe that the 3 reasons given for resigning from the church are null and void because:
a) The congregation members advanced no proposals which he did not accept; they had only complained, demanded and threatened.
b) There is no proof of any instance of misuse of the ban or lust for power.
c) Pastor Winkler couldn't wait any longer for the formation of a committee. He had chosen his delegate then he waited for months for the displeased ones to form theirs (from March until May.) He had to admonish them several times and during that time the group refused to stop harassing the congregation or sign its names to the gang-related pamphlets they circulated.
We note well that what must be proven first is whether Pastor Winkler violated the constitution.
We have refrained from mentioning all the items contrary to fact in their report. Therefore we have said nothing about, for example, the fabricated story that Pastor Winkler attacked Crämer. We have merely underlined a few points but must acknowledge that for the most part what is contained within their report is false. It is our personal conviction, based on the written documents and the situation rather than the hearsay evidence presented by the parties involved, that Pastor Winkler and his true congregation have been the victims of dreadful atrocities capable of shaking the heavens. On the other hand the displeased ones, who are loathe to accept Christian order and discipline from any quarter, are hiding behind the cry of the supposed misuse of the ban.
Through this behavior they fortify and justify their sins.
We can neither expect nor hope that the synod would understand the injustices committed here because most of its members reside so far away from the situation that they lack convincing first-hand evidence. But here is the main point, which even the most remote member will recognize if he is impartial and truth-loving. One must look for the proof that the situation was mishandled because people have only heard from the displeased ones and not from the congregation and its pastor. People had held congregational meetings, preached, administered the sacraments, etc. without the pastor's knowledge and behind his back before decisions were made — that's called gang rebellion. People sent them a preacher (Schaller,) whom those excommunicated by Pastor Winkler accepted immediately as if they had called him themselves. Even the Methodists have not done such a thing! Then that preacher installed Preacher Krause in the country congregation located nearby. The dreadful consequences of such unjust and godless behavior cannot fail to follow. They've already begun to appear.
We protest most vehemently against such foolish behavior as the sending of preachers to foreign congregations without first performing a proper investigation, meaning a proper inquiry with the congregation's present ministry. Additionally we entreat the synod to cease such abominable activities and seek true repentance.
At the very least we wish to have no part in the onerous guilt associated with the destruction and persecution of
Christ's church. We consider it our duty to use every means in our power to stop these other people and we have been compelled to place the matter before one of the worthy synods. May God direct the outcome!
It is necessary and justifiable to publish this letter because:
1) It was already read before the synod in Milwaukee in 1851.
2) However as a result of this letter the Missouri Synod took the opportunity to commence new injustices in the Detroit matter and in its Fifth Synodal Report on page 20 it allowed new lies to be presented to the world.
3) For this reason on their return from the synodal session the authors of the above letter requested that the undersigned lay all documents before the church "just as it happened in the history of the persecuted congregation of Pastor Kellner in Silesia."
J. Fr. Winkler.
In issues 8 and 10 of the 3rd volume of the Informatorium Pastor Winkler delivered a report on the results of this warning to repent given to the Missouri Synod as related by their own pastors.
Professor Walther and Crämer stifled these pastors and brought them to silence with the help of a false witness who had left the congregation in 1848 and had been excommunicated in 1849 after a year of repeated and fruitless warnings.
Walther's argurments were: (As dictated by the above-named pastors upon their return from the synod and taken down by Pastor Winkler.)
1. Pastor Winkler must be a heretic because he joined the Buffalo Synod.
2. Because he had joined the Buffalo Synod, without a doubt Pastor Winkler had misused the ban.
3. The people who appointed Pastor Schaller had not been banned. Those who were banned joined the group after the appointment. Schaller himself wrote on December 18, 1851 in the Lutheran, V.7, no. 10, page 79: "These people (the seven) united themselves with their unjustly banned brothers and then together these poor, tormented and intimidated souls appointed the undersigned (S. Schaller) to become their pastor."
In the 5th Synodal Reports Walther wrote, "The ones making the appointment had not been banned."
3.[sic] With regard to the vocation one does not have to look at those confirming the appointment, for they may not be children of God; "what is more important is that one look at the hidden children of God, who may still be in the cradle."
This is Missouri's comfort and its justification for sending all the gang preachers!!
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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