The Third Synodal Letter: Pages 73 - 77

We advised Pastor Winkler to reinstate the girl in school, provided her father will promise to have his daughter obediently submit to school discipline. — Albert Frey and Daniel Nitzschke were banned from choir practice February 7, 1850 because of their scornful and malicious attitudes. It is also incorrect that Pastor Winkler brought a constable to the church. This was done by two members of the church and administrator Dietzel, lest the horrible scene of February 3rd be repeated. We also find this action justifiable according to Romans, Chapter 13.

The accusation concerning the Hartmann children is untrue, that he let them be laughed at, derided in the school and called sectarians and mangey curs. He has, in fact, always been pleased with the boy but made the girl stand a few times for laziness. The parents were made aware of the situation and they were not upset by it. Ludwig's statement, that whenever anyone came to pay a friendly call on Pastor Winkler to speak with him, he led them by the arm to the door then slammed the door behind them so hard that the dust flew, is not only untrue but also nonsense and the distort of the falling out with Nitzschke. It is just as incorrect that Pastor Winkler declared that both the Buffalo and Missouri Synods were worthless; he had merely stated once that if he could not join either of these synods in good conscience it was his hope to establish a synod with a few others.

Finally to the charge that Pastor Winkler had threatened Ludwig and his party with physical expulsion from the church - this is a distortion of the incident with the Frey and Nitzschke boys, who were behaving so badly both in church and outside that one Sunday afternoon before the church service the pastor took them to task for their wickedness, saying that they deserved to be expelled and just that would happen if they didn't learn to behave better.

4) Verdict on Ludwig's Case with Schubert. Here Pastor Winkler agrees with us that great caution needs to be taken in letting unknown men, whose theological education and ordination status are uncertified, preach. However, we cannot sanction Ludwig's arrogance and reckless behavior in instigating such an uproar against it during the choir practice. He should have seen it as his duty to bring the matter to the attention of his pastor alone.

III. Stricker's Complaint concerning Unjust Excommunications

1) A written report of the excommunication of Jacob Ludwig on February 3, 1850 was read aloud and attested to by the church administrators. We must judge in accordance with the word of God that this was only an announcement by Ludwig that his name would be stricken from the congregation list, but that Ludwig had received no excommunication or ban, and that not even Pastor Winkler called it that. Under these tragic circumstances Pastor Winkler considered it necessary to announce Ludwig's request so that no one would be further led astray by him.

We could only see this announcement as a public warning concerning him and under said circumstances we could not disapprove, for according to the words of St. Paul, "let those who sin be punished by all so that the others might also fear," 1 Timothy 5, 20. In order for there to have been a ban there would have been a specific declaration of his excommunication; his segregation as a fallen member of the body of Christ and of the community of God did not happen in that way, therefore there is no ban. Pastor Winkler had further commented with this announcement that he suspected that a Ludwig gang would surface in Detroit if it hadn't already and he noted that all who turn themselves over to such a gang or ally themselves with the gang's leader would be shut off from further ceremonies of the sacrament. There could be no further warnings given to such people, since there had been enough begging and pleading with their former pastor in Buffalo before their arrival in Detroit. Pastor Grabau could not sufficiently express his pity and regret that so many of his congregation had gone astray only to come to another location and conduct themselves so godlessly and horribly. The peaceful, righteous members of the congregation would always be welcome in Detroit. The congregation in Detroit should and must have peace and quiet in its administration, its congregational assemblies, its choir, and its school, whatever the cost may be (that is, even when church discipline exacts so great a sacrifice.) "May God help us, Amen."

In conjunction with this we must acknowledge in Christian righteousness that the suspicion of gestating mutiny was well founded and warning should be issued. For us the term "mutiny leader" seems inadmissable because, when Pastor Winkler first expresses his suspicion, he says that a gang would surface. There should have been a warning about giving approval to these mutinous acts and efforts. Furthermore it is true that Pastor Grabau had admonished all those moving from Buffalo to Detroit and had specifically begged and pleaded with Ludwig to guard against all spiritual presumptions, discontent and other sins in Detroit but nothing came of it. These people let themselves be taken up into the mutinous activity and they could have been excommunicated without further warning because according to Christ's command, sinners must be warned when they commit sins. Thus it still does not follow that Pastor Winkler had declared formal warning in all cases for no reason.

If we are to acknowledge that there were errors on the part of Pastor Winkler, we must acknowledge to a much greater extent our heartfelt horror with the conduct of J. Ludwig at the choir practice when he made his announcement. Here he publically exposed himself as a true instigator and founder of a mutiny in the house of God. The same mark of shame justifiably falls upon all those who supported him with this godless instigation and who sinned so grievously against their pastor through their ranting and insults in the house of God.

2) The Excommunication of February 10, 1850. Our preliminary deliberations on the case.

a) Concerning the excommunication of earlier mutineers Busche, Schäker, Herbst Jr., Barth Jr., Mönnich and Manske, who were publically excommunicated for the following reasons: "They have conducted their gang activity in the open for over a year, they instituted their own form of gang church service, renting a room for the purpose; they buried their dead in their own funeral services, appointing a gang preacher from their own midst. Furthermore they revelled in the fact that they had not gone to holy communion in this congregation. Plus they often said that the congregation had asked them over and over again to return (in accordance with Matthew 18); there had been many prayers offered in the congregation but they did not return; instead they slandered against the congregation, who maintained just as they did, that the word and the sacrament were pure. In consequence, nothing stood in the way of excommunicating them and they were publically excommunicated as blatant, unrepentant muniteers from the Christian congregation. God grant mercy upon their obdurate souls."

We judge here in accordance with the old Christian Church Orders, that the proper action was taken because the warning concerning open rebellion was issued with the congregation in mind and at its request so that the rebels could be brought back to the path of repentance. Thus the third level was warning, telling it to the congregation, was fulfilled. This form is specifically marked out in the old Pomeranian Church Orders.

b) The excommunication of Johann Frey and Daniel Nitzschke occurred on February 10, 1850. They were excommunicated as mutineers, as they had openly and horribly demonstrated in regard to the outrage committed by Ludwig in the church eight days before. By means of ranting and showing contempt they gave justification to the actions of J. Ludwig, they scorned the pastor and his office and thus showed their support for the old gangs, whom they declared brothers and thus incited the congregation to mutiny. We are completely united in our stance, that such people should be immediately severed from and cast out of the Christian church as God Himself did with the mutineer Korah and his adherents and as was done by the servants of the true church of God. And if Pastor Winkler had not excommunicated them, we would have done so now since we could not ignore the situation.

Concerning the question of how justified it was that they were excommunicated on the next Sunday for their public revolt, we must acknowledge that we find the question inadmissible as anyone would if the individual disregarded the conditions for his readmittance into the church and was thus immediately excommunicated. Such a break entitles us to place the sinner under church discipline but not to ignore the warning. This is also the case when someone begins to turn into a rebel; for this sin too the sinner will be placed under the customary church discipline. If conditions apply such as those just listed, such as a public and dreadful upheaval occurring in a sacred place,

then the servant of God has the right and the duty to immediately excommunicate the offender. Thus, in accordance with this decision, the excommunnication of the above named people is proper, however Pastor Winkler made a mistake in what he added to his reasons for the excommunication.

The excommunication of Carl Herbst Sr. on April 1 and Nicol. Barth on April 22, 1849. Causes: Herbst had lived for 6 months in open rebellion and now maintains the headquarters for the gang (Barth, Schäker, Busche, Mönnich, Gumbrecht, Manske). He was sought out and warned many times privately and in the public congregational assemblies. Nic. Barth similarly received many warnings and was brought up before the congregation just as Herbst had been. In spite of this Barth left the church blaspheming, without waiting for the last warning, which would have been issued. At the close of the church service they were publically excommunicated because the pastor judged that the congregation would not want to hear what they had to say.

We could not deny the justice and validity of this excommunication yet we find that the practice, as it exists within the Lutheran church, is not adequate; within the assembly of Christ's church, where the sinner faced the formal warning, he was immediately thereafter excommunicated, although in times of distress (as in the case with great scandals) an exception could be justifiable. For our part we deem it appropriate that it [the excommunication] be performed at the next meeting for church service or a week or two later.

d) W. Gumbrecht's excommunication on August 26, 1849. This occurred after he was called before the congregation several times to receive formal warning but never appeared. He belonged to the gang, which met in Herbst's house. In fact, he was a leader. It later came out that he had not received the sacraments in a year and a half and he had not heard a sermon in 10 months. We could also find no fault with the way this excommunication was worded.


We hereby wish to deliver our verdict concerning Stricker's plaintive partymen.

Their declaration, that they had been unjustly excommunicated for the past year and that this was done in contradictin to the church orders, is false. Although the record of the foregoing proceedings may lack certain information or contain certain errors in form, timing or manner of execution, there is no mistake regarding the sins themselves, which prompted the excommunications. Much more was gained by this and the signs of Christian effort to follow correct form and order are unmistakable. However the difficult and unexpected events which occurred in the congregation make it clear that there were certain iregularities in the form and manner, and yet a reasonable Christian congregation is able to admit that in this battle for Lutheran order one must see the virtue in

not assessing the irregularities to be so great that the ban against blatantly unrepentant sinners is invalidated, as these plaintiff would want to be the case.

2) The Conduct of these Plaintiffs since February 10, 1850.

a) On March 6, 1850 they sent a letter to Pastor Winkler. This letter was supposedly a kindly first step towards addressing the unjust excommunications with a request that the unjustice be rectified and the excommunications cancelled in the church on the following Sunday. — However we find that the letter was not a kindly first steps towards revelation of clearer explanations for their actions; rather the entire letter is full of charges, complaints and self justifications and ultimately contained a threat that if their demands were not met, they would seek outside help. There were seven of them. In a second letter they had decided to repeat their demands and set the following Sunday as the deadline for the cancellation of the orders of excommunication. Thus a group of seven people from the congregation shall hold court and draft a letter concerning the cancellation of the orders of excommunication against blatant mutineers, who shall be found innocent by them. After receiving a response from the pastor, they drafted a third letter on March 21st, stating they would submit to a Christian church court. By now there were 14 of them issuing rebukes, as if they weren't pressing charges and issuing complaints but making overtures out of Christian love. They revealed their obduracy and their overture was merely an attempt to establish dominance the congregation! The letter demonstrated their true natures as plaintiffs! In contrast we find in Pastor Winkler's offer to allow himself to be judged just the opposite. — This is human insolence and sacrilege, which has rarely ever occurred in the Lutheran church. In particular they convey false teaching, that the ban is unjust because they contend that there are no robbers, murderers, whores and oath breakers among the excommunicated and they deceptively maintain that private confession had nothing to do with their forming a sect, plus they maintained falsely along with the Missourians that it is essentially left to the discretion of the congregation whether or not it wishes to institute the practice. They still agree to submit to a competent church court. These are the actions, which they continue to call for.

b) On the evening of May 2nd the Missouri pastor, Crämer, arrives unexpectedly, having been sent by Pastor Walther and invited by the seven plaintiffs. He had held a meeting with the plaintiffs alone on May 1st. He went to Pastor Winkler and requested that a committee be formed. The same thing occurs on May 8th and he requests the committee to meet on Pentacost Tuesday, and if this does not occur, he will be in Detroit on the Thursday after second Trinity Sunday. On June 7th Pastor Winkler writes to him, that at present no committee can be formed for the intended purpose. Pastor Winkler asks him not to come to Detroit and tells him of a rumor that he [Crämer] has been going around trying to establish a counter congregation in Detroit since his arrival nine days ago.

Go on to pages 78 - 82

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

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks