However I need to speak of my justifiable agitation over this situation whereby the highest ideals of humanity are destroyed through a complete lack of conscience and people are turned into mindless tools in the ministers' dark plans. I take my feather in hand not to shed light on those led astray but rather to describe the dark operations of the deceivers. The result of their activities is
well exemplified by the above described conversation. To the fellow countryman with whom I spoke and bear no ill will, I make this comment: He may call me a devil but I would rather be called this than one of his petty priests!
The Devil to his Countryman
Reason tells us to examine everything
When people like you truly believe
You're just like children on crutches
"Satan has confused our reason
"Luther's faith and the blood of Christ
"can wash all our sins away;
"but if you will not be absolved
"the devil will lead you astray!"
I can never really thank you enough
A man must believe in himself
This man may be my brother
In the same issue there is an summary of an article written by ministerial candidate Lütkemüller in the State newspaper containing a biography of Stephan. This article appeared three days before his arrival and our readers could see from it that this man with his flock must be the object of much attention for the residents of St. Louis.
Additionally the spiritual leaders of the community did their part to incite the disapproval of the people. One of these, Pastor Berger, had warned the passengers of the Selma upon their arrival about establishing ties with the residents of St. Louis since they were a treacherous and immoral lot.
This warning spread throughout the city and one day Dr. Vehse and a ministerial candidate were insulted and pelleted with rocks as they walked down the street. The word "Stephanist" became part of the derogatory vocabulary of the street youth. Under these circumstances it's understandable that the protracted stay of the leaders of this community was in no was desirable in St. Louis.
Visits to the bishop's house became ever more frequent and each individual had something to complain about. However Stephan only admitted those whom wanted to see. His harshness with certain members became ever greater. — At the time of his arrival in St. Louis he delivered a reproachful address speaking these noteworthy words: "the poorer members of the community should not rely upon the fact that they are necessary to any venture he undertook, etc. He and his friends would grab the shovels themselves before permitting any interference to their authority by the congregation."
The statement that a piece of land had already been purchased while they were in Germany was an outright lie. Not one square foot of land had been purchased.
During the voyage Duden's description of the State of Missouri had been spread among the passengers. This writer described in glowing terms all the advantages to settling in the region
however he said practically nothing about the hindrances and difficulties which the German farmers encountered. It may have been for this reason that many of the Stephanists dreamed of the new Canaan.
There were negotiations with a lawyer of the region, Dr. Bimpage, to help with the purchase of land.
The wish to a build church as quickly as possible so they could hold services was soon fulfilled. People in St. Louis were anxious to hear a sermon by Bishop Stephan and this resulted in the following public invitation:
Anzeiger des Westens, March 2, 1839
"Examine everything and keep what is best!" is the old saying which should be considered here more than it usually is. — I am prompted to make this remark not just because of the uncalled attacks against the newly arrived Stephanists published in this newspaper but also because of the widespread prejudice expressed by many in this city who do not have all the facts in the matter of the sect and its leaders. Having certain connections with the more influential members of the community it occurred to me that the management of the community's affairs rests in capable hands and above all else that the community's religious sentiments, as far as they are known to me, hold fast to the teachings of our reformer and exercise a positive influence in a time where
indifference and disbelief grow ever greater and erode the foundation of customs and morality.
On the other hand we have the residents of this city and this state, who should welcome the new arrivals as friends and countrymen in their midsts — and should not be harangued if they take the opportunity to learn a little more about the religious teachings of this congregation. The writer of this letter believes he does nothing wrong in saying this but rather expresses the wishes of many of his fellow countrymen when he forges a path through the publicity in order to request that the founder and leader of this community, Bishop Stephan who is described as an excellent orator even by his enemies, ascend the pulpit and speak before a larger group one or more times. Here in the land of religious freedom where no one need fear persecution for his beliefs, provided he does not violate the current social dictates, it is certainly better for those brought over by true conviction to his faith that he openly discuss his doctrine and his intentions even while seeming to issue mandates to his followers. In this manner he may quell the preconceived notions of the public which take root when there is unnecessary secrecy and intentional segregation thus leading to dangerous situations.
In formally issuing his request, the undersigned expresses his belief
Go to pages 49 - 53
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks