The Third Synodal Letter - Pages 68 - 72


because we ourselves had not yet become reconciled with the Missourians. They received the response:

1) The difference between us and Missouri concerns teaching and divine truth; in this case Christ and Belial could not reconcile.

2) We could not align ourselves with the Missourians and allow them to be our ministers; we are servants of the church, who must testify against these false prophets until such time as they repent.

Stricker said, "You three pastors are merely stand-ins for Pastor Winkler."

Our response: "This is an error. We were not sent here by our synod to be representatives for Pastor Winkler. We are investigators and judges in the disputed matter. We are not a party representing committee members but a Christian synodal court, as your constitution demands; and if you are not pleased with our investigation and verdict, you are at liberty to press the matter before our full synod next spring and seek further retribution.

What follows are their protests:
      a) They had wanted a committee, the pastor had rejected the idea.
      b) Pastor Grabau hadn't wanted it.
      c) Pastor Winkler had committed great sins and he had denied them just as vehemently as had been reported in yesterday's memorandum.

Likewise they were warned how they would have proceeded as a committee, how one individual might have incited the others or misled them; how if there was to be a reversal of matters, they could no longer act as their own judges, rather they would have to listen to the present Christian church court.

Stricker said that he hadn't incited anyone and no one can convince me otherwise; each of us arrived at our opinion of the matter independently.

Committee chairman Bökmann testified that he had been in his brother's house twice. The first time neither brother wanted to hear anything about Stricker's letter, which he was carrying around for signatures. "Yes," said Stricker. "I did not force him." Bökmann said, "I'll admit, you did not force him. You couldn't do that, however you did persuade him."

Stricker was further charged that he had also gone to Günterrot, persuading him to sign the third letter of May 21st. *

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* Remark: Michael Winmier and Michael Schumann were also persuaded by Stricker to sign the letter, however they later crossed their signatures off the letter and put an explanation on the reverse side of it because they came to realize that the matter was not proper.


It has been sufficiently proven that Stricker went around the area, trying to get members of the congregation to sign this party letter. These signatures also appeared on the public announcement and withdrawal lists. Thus it came to light that Stricker is the sole initiator of this rebel group. In the first letters the signature read "Stricker and Company" and "Stricker and Associates."

Finally they were warned that the first thing they must do is set aside their emnity, which was becoming ever more apparent, towards us and their spiritual caregiver. Töpel said he harbored no emnity but truly, those, who speak for the godless and condemn the righteous, are abominations unto the Lord.

Pastor Grabau responded, they had not wanted us to hold a church court and they still had not attended our court, so it was malicious and quite incomprehensible how they could use this proverb against us. After this, they went their way, saying good night.

Previously Pastor Kindermann had come forth and told them in earnest, unfortunately we had noticed that there were unreprentant people among them, who sought only their own selfish interests and self justification. In good conscience we could no longer deal with them, Pastor Grabau stated, because they would not recognize us as judges.

Pastor von Rohr responded to this, "These were individuals, who did not want the case to be tried; they only wanted to condemn their pastor without a proper trial. The Lord Jesus says of them in Luke 6, "Judge not, lest ye be judged. Condemn not, lest ye be condemned." As long as they remain in their sins, according to the words of Christ, they are damned.

While this was going on, Manske and Nitzschke had approached and were standing at the open door. Stricker cited the passage to Winkler, "Pity the man from whom scandal arises." In response they were told that the scandal must be investigated first. Manske added his voice, stating, "Pastor Grabau told them in Buffalo that Pastor Winkler may have created many scandals." They received the response, yes, if all the conditions are present such as those contained in the 32-pages of text.

During this discussion they were warned not to consult one another, rather if they had any complaints, they should communicate them to us. We would consider these point by point in the same manner as how things were publically announced in the church on Sundays. Thus they would acknowledge us as a Christian church court.

Nitzschke grumbled, "Whenever I have something to say, it's whittled away at." We, Pastor Grabau and Pastor von Rohr, had known him for 7 years and how he had conducted himself. At the very least we should conclude that he was excommunicated even though he was innocent. He added that he did not know why his children had been expelled from school and why he was barred from the sacraments.

He was reminded that he received extensive instruction yesterday evening in answer


to his questions concerning what he should do, — what course he had to take in order to find peace.

Herewith Nitzschke and Manske left and the meeting was closed with a prayer. After this, those present heard about the events of the night before and they were written down. Those invited attested that the record was true and accurate.
                            Joh. And. A. Grabau
                            G. A. Kindermann
                            H. C. G. von Rohr

This transaction was reported to the entire church committee on July 26th and each verified that what was reported here is accurate.

Detroit, July 27, 1850.
                            Joh. And. A. Grabau
                            G. A. Kindermann
                            H. C. G. von Rohr

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Supplement 4

                                              Detroit, July 27, 1850

Verdict on the Disputed Issues in the
St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Detroit

I. The Verdict concerning the Matter of Confession and the Confession Controversies.

1) We have recognized in the entire course of events and in the issuing of multiple teachings and warning that the Pastor has acted diligently, correctly and effectively in his dealings with the congregation since 1846. He has held fast to the Eleventh Article of the Augsburg Confession and has worked diligently to put it into practice.

2) From the written records of statements made concerning this subject and the testimony taken from church committee men and other members of the congregation, we have also seen that on the one hand, he attempted to introduce evangelical private confession without pressure and duress and on the other hand that he was always considerate of the weak, for whom he continued to offer general confession.

3) With regard to this, however, we have seen that thus far his honesty and sincerity have not been accepted with gratitude. Certain members have harshly assailed him for still permitting general confession, while many more, who are not in favor of private confession, have risen up against him to form sects. Some of these (there were only 6 or 7 of them at the time) declared that as a rule he had done away with general confession but had publically offered to perform general confession services for them on Fridays, Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings.

4) From the written record of events from 1849 and 1850 we have seen that it was not all but most of those


opposed to private confession, who joined with those, who charged Pastor Winkler with various sins and gross misconduct in the application of church discipline. Thus the party grew to somewhere between 14 and 17 members, who now issue accusations against him when originally there were only 7. Now this group, grown to 14 members, attempts to represent their partisan union as having nothing to do with the issue of private confession and this is simply untrue. Even more than this, we have seen that the institution of private confession is the major source of vexation among the members in Detroit. Many people originally from Buffalo have joined their number and have maintained, after the fact, that it is entirely and essentially at the discretion of the congregation whether or not it wishes to introduce the practice, because it has been proven that not all Christians make private confessions. So write the 14 accusers on March 21, 1850.

II. Decision on the Ludwig Grievances

1) Verdict in the matter of Gareis and Karstens. We find that Jacob Ludwig became the malicious instigator of a rash of quarrels when a letter he wrote to Heinr. Karstens concerning Gareis was read during the choir's singing practice, despite the rule and prohibition of the pastor that a complaint against Gareis should not be presented there but rather presented before the church administration and despite the pastor's protest that this would incite rebellion. It was already known that Gareis had received a warning from the pastor that choir practice was not the proper venue for reading his letter of complaint against Karstens. It is our opinion that immediately after the reading of Gareis' letter, Pastor Winkler should have forbidden Gareis to carry on the dispute and he should have turned the matter over to the church administration. Unfortunately this was practically impossible because of the tumult, which Ludwig had incited at the time.

2) Verdict on the Alleged False Teaching of the Pastor.
a) to the charge concerning the sermon of the first Sunday after the Epiphany, January 13, 1850: "as though the Lord Jesus was only vaguely aware of his godhood during his childhood, for Christ's omniscience was diminished" — here we find no false teaching, rather at most, people could have misunderstood the similar expression: "such as when a suspicion permeates the soul and suddenly breaks through in a moment of total awareness." The congregation members affirm that they never heard false teaching, and Ludwig himself acknowledged on January 23rd in a letter to the pastor that the expression had attracted his attention however one could rightfully make the declaration.

b) Concerning the Calvinist teaching on predestination, as though it were God's holy will and ordering that only the humblest men were blessed (Septuagesima Sunday 1850), we have found no mention of it in the entire sermon - for we have the original written text. Even those making the accusations testified on July 23rd


that word and sacrament had ever been pure, and Ludwig had expressed nothing concerning these two false teachings before the publicizing of his withdrawal on February 3, 1850.

3) Verdict on Other Charges Filed by Ludwig against Pastor Winkler's Conduct.

We find that a portion of these charges are grounded in misunderstandings, some of these are simply unjust and untrue and the rest come from false reports and the testimony of other people. His allegation concerning confession is unfounded; the question concerning private confession is only a secondary issue. His report is untrue, that in 5 months the sacrament of the holy eucharist had been celebrated only once. The Communion Roster indicates that the sacrament was held four times in the city church. It is untrue, that Pastor Winkler knows nothing of spiritual matters and speaks only of business, asks only about financial earnings and news events; Pastor Winkler most certainly admonished him many times about his error and advised him to lead a life of Christian discipline, dedicated to the service of Christ. Similarly he had advised him on his rebellious path.

The issue concerning the 50 songbooks and Thürwächter was incorrect; Thürwächter did not call the pastor a liar about this matter as Ludwig claims. He said that in the dealings with book printer B. he only recalls that he offered a guarantee. The rumors are also untrue and mistaken as to whether Pastor Winkler had called Pastor Grabau the Buffalo idol; he only warned that it was a sin to turn him into an idol in the manner of Cephas and Apollo. Indeed Grabau himself denied it and was distressed when, for example, his former church members, who had moved to Detroit, wanted all the outward ceremonies they had had in Buffalo, as though these were necessities. It is also incorrect that Pastor Winkler had allowed Gareis to read his letter aloud. Gareis had not asked him about it and had read the letter without his permission. The pastor first became aware of the contents of this letter when it was read (during the choir practice). The protests registered in that letter did not pertain to the choir and they should have been made in a different venue. This happened in the course of the conversation in which the pastor tried to quiet those who were screaming and quarreling. It is justified that Pastor Winkler wanted Heinrich Ludwig and Heinrich Karstens removed from the choir until the matter with Gareis was settled before the church administration due to their disturbing the choir practice. Likewise it is justified that the Frey and Nitzschke children were expelled from school after the excommunication of their fathers. Pastor Winkler could not deal with them because of their unruly behavior. Later Nitzschke's daughter was not unconditionally denied acceptance back into the school, rather Pastor Winkler did not wish to settle the matter himself. He asked Nitzschke in writing whether he was at peace with the fact that the matter would be set before the church ministry of the Buffalo Synod and it would render a decision. Nitzschke gave no reply.


Go to pages 73 - 77


Copy of text provided by the A. R. Wentz Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks