|It cannot be denied that since his departure from Germany Stephan has lived in a grand style well beyond his fixed income right under the noses of his associates, all the while coming up with excuses in order to thwart attempts to audit the accounts and separate the the congregation's funds from those of the ministers.
Under such circumstances can any reasonable person declare that the guilt for the deception and mishandling of the congregation falls to Stephan alone? Wouldn't his closest associates either have to be negligent and blind lackeys totally incapable of representing the interests of the congregation or — were they willing participants who saw with their own eyes what was happening and decided to join their fates to his, increase their power and success through him and become the middlemen, stiffling any hint of suspicion within the congregation or others, establishing and broadening indecent, unprecedented, physical and spiritual domination and power over the congregation, leading to betrayal, desecration and catastrophe.
Certainly their current condemnation of their leader and their hypocritical defamation of this "deeply fallen man" is not going to clear them of any wrongdoing; they are going to have to find a different strategy if they wish to clear themselves
before a civil judge, before the world and before their maltreated congregation. Otherwise they will be considered either stupid fools, who should be punished, or willing participants in the crime.
2) To satisfy the public and provide security for the congregation it is necessary to perform a full and timely audit of accounts and assessment of all property. The congregation members, who for the most part turned over all their liquid assets to the administrators, have received nothing up until now except receipts signed by the two previous account managers that their money was placed in the congregation's credit account.
These people were told that everything added to the acount would be used for the good of themselves and the congregation, that the funds were being administered in accordance with certain regulations and that there was no better or safer way to invest and use their contributions. The poor and the officials of the community were supported with these funds and land was purchased with a portion of the deposits.
Once the deficit in the cash fund was discovered, this indicated that the congregation's money could have been invested and used in "better and safer" ways and it made the people aware that the safest places of all were their own hands. Besides this they saw that the demands of the church and the overabundant supply of clergy were greater than the congregation could afford and
greater than what reasonable people would want to expend. Even the shoulders of the most patient and generous people could not have supported their demands. Even the land purchases were put in the names of a few select people so that the amassed properties rested in their hands alone.
If the public is to have confidence in the affairs of the congregation after Stephan's dismissal, it is of double importance that there be a public audit of the community's accounts, the securing of all funds and the transfer of land titles to individuals.
In the end this can and must
3) be accomplished promptly and correctly so that those who wish to leave the community will receive immediate repayment of their money less any amount related to previous expenses. The feckless manner in which the leader and his agents put his congregation in debt is certainly sufficient grounds for any rational family to want to separate itself from the endeavor, which destroyed their joy in life, their peace of mind and their sense of honor. It cannot be expected that future commitments will remain in place since the reasons and conditions, which brought them to life, no longer exist. Plus there are few guarantees under the current circumstances that the new leaders will be able to bring their followers any closer to a happy state than the old leader.
It's just too easy to see the truth in Mephisto's statement here:
"You rid yourselves of evil,
but the evil still remains."
The haste and anxiety exhibited by the pastors in their attempt to add their agreement with the consensus of the rest of the congregation, their attempt to form a connection with the children of the world and their statement that this was an event which would lead to "dreadful consequences for them (the pastors) and others (the congregation)" seems to indicate they intend to retain priestly domination under a new leader. From this we derive the evidence that there are a couple dozen people (pastors, candidates and schoolteachers,) who don't want to work and are too proud to beg and yet have not given up hope despite the detrimental effect they are having on the congregation. Their united purpose is to continue feeding off the congregation even at the risk of driving it into the ground. It might seem impossible but in an age where this congregation might thrive, these people would sacrifice it and create an indigent community for the sake of their continued survival. We cannot sufficiently stress to those caught up in this regretable situation what looms in the future. We want to urge these people to exercise caution in their dealings with their leaders. However we must also resign ourselves to the fact that anyone whose eyes have not been opened by Stephan's comportment, probably will not benefit from our sermon.
In the meantime plans were made for departure with great haste. Early in the morning on May 30th the boat with the immigrants docked at the new landing in Perry County. — Stephan remained in his house under heavy guard without knowing what lay in store for him. He could not fail to notice by the behavior of many members of the congregation that he was under suspicion. Several times he said to his associates that "several warrants were being filed against him." The precautionary measures he had taken in the event of his dismissal showed even stronger indication of his anxiety.
The deputation committee approached the bishop's house with the pastors in the lead. No one dared enter the house. They discussed the bishop's future beneath the windows of his house however no one wanted to tell him. Even now, charged with the most unwelcome of tasks by the outside world and confronted with the knowledge of their own weakness and guilt, they had trouble facing this man who had demanded silent obedience for so many years. The pastors found themselves in a most difficult position. Something had to be done about the bishop if they did not wish to become offerings themselves and be seen as co-conspirators with the old hypocrite. However they must be subtle with His Eminence lest he make known how many times they had compromised. Our readers will find the anxiety of the pastors quite excusable.
Go to pages 104 -108
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks