Tell it to the Church! by J. A. A. Grabau and H. C. G. von Rohr - Pages 1 - 6


Tell It to the Church!

or

Public Announcement

of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Buffalo, N.Y.,

to all Lutheran Churches,

and

a reverently extended Request

to

all faithful consistories, synods and theological faculties

since they may wish to join with us in warning

"the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri"

to cease their public outrages against us"

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Buffalo

Printed with C. Bär's Press, No. 5 East Seneca St.

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1853


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In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ

"Christ gave the last and ultimate law to the church when He said: 'Tell it to the Church'." Matthew 18, 17 Schmalkaldic Articles - Concerning the power and authority of the pope.

The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Buffalo, 12 pastors and 16 Lutheran congregations with their 11 synodal deputies reverently request all Lutheran Churches to warn the Synod of Missouri to discontinue the blatant sin of seizing estranged ministries, whereby it takes in all rebellious, excommunicated members of our congregations, tells them they are right in their transgressions, and teaches them to despise our synod and not to listen to it; it has also through synodal decree agitated them and placed upon them the duty to separate themselves from us; furthermore it has sent preachers to certain mutinous members of our congregation, who stand within the church order, and it has received them as Lutheran congregations in its synodal assembly and thus constructed mutinous altars in opposition to the altar of our Lutheran churches and congregations.

The members of the Missouri Synod have done this against us, a Lutheran Synod. It acknowledges in its public documents, in its synodal reports, and in its publication The Lutheran that it considers us beloved brothers with whom it has a common grounding in faith (the symbols of the Lutheran Church) and with whom it has the heartfelt desire to be united, that at the next synod it will hold a colloquium to discuss both sides of the doctrinal differences, acknowledging that it may be possible to settle this issue without both sides finding it essentially necessary to give up on the other!

   1) They have been warned about these transgressions since 1853 through private letters from our pastors.

   2) In a letter sent from Milwaukee in 1845 by our synod to the Saxon pastors in Missouri we requested that they call back the preachers they sent to the mutineers.

   3) Through open correspondence, for example in our synodal letters of 1848 and 1851.

   4) Through 2 years of public communication of this injustice through our church publication Informatorium, likewise announcement to the entire Lutheran Church.

   5) Through an exchange of synodal letters in this year, 1853, Volume 2, No. 16 of the Informatorium. Herein the Missouri Synod was offered a plan for peace and reconciliation and the proper path to achieve it. First, to discontinue the unspeakable open offense of seizing our ministries and synodal courts, thus releasing our excommunicated members from their synodal ties and bringing them under the auspices of its own forsaken church court in order then to handle the doctrinal differences with reconciling hearts through a colloquium and achieve unity. Our first letter of May 27th of this year received a prompt refusal and our succeeding


one was again declined with obstinate refusal and entirely untenable justifications for their sinful deeds; in a final sincere response and declaration on the side of the senior member of our ministry Missouri's error was fully disclosed: namely that it did not want to discontinue in its reprehensible principle - "A Lutheran Church group may take in the banned members of another group when there is a dispute over doctrine within the church until such time as the dispute is settled." See the supplement to our church's Informatorium, Volume 2, No. 16 of July 1, 1853.

Thus comes this call of distress and public announcement to all Lutheran Churches to join with us in warning the Synod of Missouri to cease this hideous offense of seizing estranged ministries, of participating in the sins of the mutineers by taking in our excommunicated members and thus in its frivolity of contributing to the devastation of the church in this, our new homeland, to the destruction of Christian church culture, as it has so often done.

In order to give all Lutheran Churches a better understanding of why the Missouri Synod should be given a warning, the following is offered:
   1.) A brief historical overview of how this new persecution of our immigrant Lutheran Church has developed.
   2.) A summary proof of the injustice visited upon us.

I.

The Historical Overview

Referring back to our supplemental synodal letter in which are contained the individual circumstances and evidence in proof, we provide the following overview.

In the year 1838 our pastors, A. Grabau and F. Krause and the deputies of the 1000 souls in the emigrating congregation of Pastor Grabau, and the then Captain Heinrich von Rohr sought to unite with the emigrating Saxon pastors Löber, Walther, Bürger Sr., Bürger Jr., and Keyl, who were under the auspices of Stephan. However, having received a sincere warning and recognizing during their visit the confusion among the Stephists, they gave up on this decision.

In 1840 after Stephan's fall Pastor Löber, mindful of the warning, wrote a pentitent letter to then Captain von Rohr which pointed out their reformation and requested fraternal rejoining. This was heartfeltly assured to them by Pastor Grabau and a voluminous exchange of letters followed, aimed at creating a fuller understanding. Pastor Grabau sent them the pastoral letter, which he had written for his own congregations, and they sent their newly established ecclesiastic regimen. [1.]

In 1841 Mr. Moritz Bürger came with Dr. Marbach to Buffalo while on a return trip to Leipzig. He himself assured

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[1.] The first half of Pastor Grabau's Pastoral Letter is printed in Löber's book, page 78. Return to text


that he had separated himself from the Saxon pastors and from his own congregations because the congregation still held to the Stephanist abomination and because they still considered the symbolic books a mere appendix to the holy scriptures. Yet despite our warning he accepted an offer from one of the excommunicated mutineer groups from our community to become its gang minister. He then published a blasphemous pamphlet and attempted to justify this scandalous activity by calling our church in Buffalo a temple of the devil for placing an unjust ban against his small mutinous group. To our horror he called our ban anti-Christian. In the pamphlet he further blasphemed by using the doctrine of the Roggenbuck mutineers and the old Saxon Catechism of 1683, thus carrying on in false doctrine concerning the person of Christ, etc.

At the time we did not assume that his slander was that of the Saxon pastors of Missouri; however when they announced that his slander of our church had found believers among the members of the Missouri Synod we issued repeated appeals concerning this sectarian division within the Christian order due to Bürger's excommunicated group. For the most part this group was comprised of the so-called Silesians, who belonged to the emigrating congregation of Pastor Krause and who after many ignored warnings from Pastors Grabau and Krause and the congregation in Buffalo had finally been excommunication after 2 years of church disciplinary action.

In 1843 Pastor Brohm was called away from us to our small congregation in New York. Soon afterwards a hostile attitude in the Saxon pastors became apparent and they received a warning from Pastor Grabau:
1. because of a letter written in a United Protestant tendancy by the late Pastor Walther to the United missionary (monk) Nollau when he himself did not consider Nollau's brotherhood valid!
2. because of the recommendation of the Calvinist candidate Klügel in Milwaukee.
3. because they allowed the installation of the candidate Fürbringer without ordination and allowed him to administer the sacraments.

In 1843 they sent back a hateful critique of the pastoral letter, adding their own criticizing suppositions and conclusions. Pastor Grabau wrote a counter-critique in which he listed their 17 errors. In the time of their developing hostility over this controversy they took over the fallen contingent of Pastor Kindermann's congregation (people who had emigrated with him as their spiritual caregiver) in Watertown (Wisconsin); this separatist gang immediately began their own rogue church services. They [Missouri] sent them the mutineer minister Geyer, whom they had ordained for this gang without consulting with the rightful pastor, Kindermann.

Shortly before this Pastor Walther had given the candidate Klügel a letter of recommendation despite Klügel's Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, thereby setting the man up in a position to unite a number of our rebellious and excommunicated groups;


he presided as minister without being ordained and he was recognized as Pastor by the Missourians.

When our pastors complained about this and pressed for the recall of both men and asked that the Saxon pastors should discipline their candidate Klügel their requests were bitterly rejected.

From here on our synod consisted of only 4 pastors and 10 congregations. In all our congregations it was a given task that we create unity and only seek out those pastors with whom we hoped to be in accord in teaching and practice, "for this reason we could not invite the Missourians." Pastor Brohm in New York, to whom we extended this invitation, rejected it and declared himself in favor of the Missourians.

Thus our synod warned the Saxon pastors to cease sending mutineering ministers; only under this condition would we not wish to give up ecclesiastic communion for the sake of doctrinal differences.

Even before the assembly of our synod the Saxon pastors had written a widely distributed justification of their counter-critique against Pastor Grabau, which they allowed to circulate among our enemies and rogue congregations before they came into our hands and before our eyes.

In 1846 the Saxon pastors in conjunction with several students of Parson Löhe of Bavaria, et. al., drew up a constitution for a synod in Fort Wayne; in 1847 they met for the first time in Chicago as a synod.

This newly-created synod not only endorsed the sending of rogue ministers, it also pursued a course of hostile devastation with its endorsement. There were two separatist groups contemplating breech from the congregation of then Pastor Krause (in Milwaukee and Freistadt), with which our ministry was mediating in order to establish reconciliation between them and their minister and from which we, that is, our synod, met hostility. These groups turned to them. Not only did the Synod of Chicago take them in, it also failed to consult with our church ministry and synod in making its verdict: "It is the people's most sacred duty to leave Pastor Krause and appoint a minister of proper faith." As soon as they sent this they sent the groups Pastor Keyl. In order to commence their rogue church services again Mr. Keyl permitted two of the mutineers to be ordained and a certificate of ordination was issued; documentation supports this on page 87, No. 11, Issue 2 of the Church Informatorium.

Their hatred for us led them to take into their synod the rogue minister Bürger and his gang in Buffalo along with his blasphemous pamphlet and rejection of the catechism.

In 1848 a faction of Pastor Grabau's daughter congregation in Eden seceded from Buffalo and Moritz Bürger immediately accepted appointment to this group, becoming its minister and forcably seizing the church of the Lutheran congregation there by means of climbing through windows and breaking doors. The Synod in Missouri also took in this gang, accepting them as a Lutheran congregation in its synodal band and


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Photocopy of text provided by Klinck Memorial Library, Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois - Call No. BX8065 .G727
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks