The Third Synodal Letter, Pages 38 - 42

in that it states that each of the 3 church fathers and the pastor of the district shall have a key to the chest in which the church funds and documents are stored and all these persons shall be present whenever money or documents are deposited or withdrawn from the chest.

The Saxon church orders specifically detail the duties of the church fathers as follows:
a) They shall maintain an inventory.
b) They shall submit an annual account record. The pastor shall diligently investigate any discrepancies and settle them in the presence of other Christians or spiritual superiors.
c) Upon receiving a warning concerning guilt they shall diligently and unceasingly give an account of themselves and not shy away if they invite disfavor upon themselves for an improper action.
d) They shall see to it that any and all funds distributed for annual duties and taxes are rendered with the knowledge and approval of the pastor and superintendents.
e) They shall see to it that all mortgaged pieces of land belonging to the church, on which people reside, shall not be apportioned, sold off or rendered into unknown title.
f) If the church owns wooded property, the church fathers shall see to it that no timber is cut or sold without the permission of the pastor and superintendents.
g) If they are in church on Sunday (etc.) and they have business to conduct, they shall not leave without giving notice to the pastor.
h) To establish that church property is being properly used, an annual rendering of church accounts shall be submitted to the consistory, which will examine it. The consistory shall be reminded of any matters of which they need to be mindful.

From this we see that they are not people acting on their own authority but rather, as the Pomeranian church orders states, assistants of their pastor in external matters. We also see that they are not trustees in the American, Puritan, Presbyterian or any other sectarian sense of the word, who reign over church property by virtue of their ability to cast a majority vote. They are Christian helpers of their pastor in the maintenance and administration of external matters.

4) If it were possible for misunderstanding and disharmony to develop between these Christian church fathers and their installed pastor out of human weakness and fragility, then the misunderstanding and disharmony would not be resolved through simple majority vote but either through seeking Christian counsel from a neighboring pastor of the Lutheran church or through the installed administrators of the Lutheran church; as, for example, the Lutheran church ministry of synod.

5) Therefore we must urgently ask and warn all Lutheran faith Christians in this country to earnestly dispose of the Puritan brand of trusteeship and to institute and maintain that form ordained by the Lutheran and Christian church orders, for this is the only proper and Christian form applicable to internal and external church matters.

6) Should people wish to call these Lutheran church fathers trustees due to the established vernacular, let them do so;

however, let the concept remain as it has been established by God's word and our old Lutheran church orders.

7) In certain of our smaller congregations the church fathers also have a voice in warning individual sinners, who are under church discipline. This is also correct in accordance with the Pomeranian church orders. In larger congregations, such as those in Buffalo, Bergholz, etc., certain men are chosen for this task from within the congregations and we call these men church administrators because they issue a warning as representatives of the entire congregation when the first stage of the warning has already been issued.


Examination of the Suspension of Pastor Kindermann in the Years 1842 and 1843 by the Upper Church College in Breslau
(Handled at the Request of Many Church Members)

To begin this inquiry a letter from Law Professor Huschke to Pastor Kindermann, dated May 6, 1839, was read, in which it is stated that the college had many reasons for fighting against emigration. Krause had gone to North America, had nothing good to report about the place and yet he invited others to emigrate. In the province of Saxony Captain von Rohr and Pastor Grabau operated to the college's disadvantage. The captain became the primary instigator in inciting people to emigrate and this was a serious crime; he was taken into custody for criminal investigation and was therefore unable to travel that year. Regrettably Pastor Grabau remained active as a proponent of emigration. He had purchased his freedom with the promise that he would not officiate as a minister until the time of his departure. *   Pastor Kellner visited these congregations and reported that of the majority, only those, against whom there were charges of misconduct, had drifted into the nets of temptation. Of Grabau's own congregations there remains the root and seed of Christianity down to each and every church administrator. According to Pastor Kellner they were sincere souls, who have allowed themselves to become deluded and have suffered a heavy jolt to their Christian identity since the decision was made to emigrate. This consecrated fruit from Pastor Kellner was supposed to be a comfort to Pastor Kindermann so he would see that his work against the emigration demon was not in vain. Mr. Huschke further wrote:
"Concerning the emigrants, who despise church discipline and scorn the office which dispenses it, you do well to avoid them. Even Pastors Wedemann and Kellner are in agreement here; they will not initiate official proceedings against those who teach and even state that


* This, along with everything else in the letter is error, false rumor and untruth; additionally it is a hostile attack against the emigration of Christians and therefore libelous. Return to text

emigration is God's command * (because they are confused about the fundamentals of scripture and draw their other conclusions out of this confusion.) Others see this merely as a matter of Christian freedom and are guided by their own personal situations."

2) There was a letter from Krause dated October 8, 1840 from Berlin sent to Pastor Kindermann, in which he told him that the people from Breslau (the synodal authorities) had commissioned Pastor Lasius to warn Pastor Kindermann because he had preached, "he, who does not profess belief in the Lutheran church and professes faith in the other church, is lost." Along with this Krause expressed his agreement with the move to emigrate.

3) There was a letter from Pastor Ehlers to Pastor Kindermann dated August 22, 1842. Ehlers considered emigration a matter of Christian freedom; however he listed 6 reasons for advising Lutherans to remain in Prussia, ultimately stating that the Lord will make it known if people should emigrate in such a manner that we would no longer have to make a choice. It would be as if Christ were going to the courts; no one would be able to doubt that it was He!

4) A missive sent by the Upper Church College in Breslau on December 14, 1842 to the congregations in Oderbruch, in which it is supposedly proven that they had strayed from the word of God because they believed they could not accept several of the decisions issued in the first Breslau Synodal Decrees of 1841! The allegation, that the Lutheran Christians in Oderbruch and others had fallen away from the Lutheran church in Prussia or that they had separated from it because they found several instances in which the synodal decrees were contrary to God's word and the symbolic books, was completely unfounded. Non-acceptance of the synodal decrees was considered separation from the church and subsequently decided after Pastor Wermelskirch was sent to these congregations in order to affect their acceptance of the decrees and to perform other services. Since he could not conclude the matter in any other way, he brought them all together in a tavern and stated, those who accept the synodal decrees should remain in the tavern; those who don't, should leave. Since the larger portion left, he stated (and then reported) that these people had left the church and could no longer receive the holy eucharist. These people wrote to the Upper Church College in Breslau, which stood under the direction of the jurisprudence scholar, Professor Huschke. They received the reply, "Since their pastor and their deputy (Barschall) had participated in the construction of the synodal decrees in the Synod of 1841 and the Upper Church College had enacted them into law,


* Not one of us stated that emigration was God's (expressed) command; rather it was in accordance with the will of God because the King of Prussian had written that he would permit no Lutheran church and religous vessel other than the United Church in his country. Upon this decision we saw it as God's will and His granting of permission to leave the country. We also acknowledged our Christian freedom to do so. Return to text

it was their duty, in an ultimate demonstration of obedience, to accept them. Pastor Wermelskirch had properly handled the situation and he denied them the sacraments because they had separated themselves from the church. If they come to their senses and obediently turn back to the Upper Church College, they will be allowed to partake of the grace and beneficence, which the Lord imparted to the church through the preaching office.

The Verdict in This Matter

After further inquiry our present synod states that in the previous document there is a false, papist spirit evident in the Upper Church College of Breslau. These people did not separate from the church; indeed they wanted to remain within it but they were segregated from it due to Pastor Wermelskirch's report to the Upper Church College in Breslau and this report was false and papist - whoever does not accept the synodal decrees separates himself from the church - it is evident that this is an invalid statement. It does not follow that someone separates from the church because he seeks the advice and assistance of the Upper Church College. For this to be the case, they would have declared their resignation in writing. If the Upper Church College wanted to handle the matter in a Lutheran and Christian manner, it should have asked these souls what it was they had against the synodal decrees, testimony should have been duly recorded and these people should have received assurances that their objections would be handled at the next synod so that the issues would be resolved in accordance with the word of God, our symbolic books and the old Lutheran church orders. Instead the Upper Church College held a papist closed session and concluded that these people should no longer be administered the sacraments until they rendered obedience.

It should be noted here that at the time these souls were considering emigration.

5) A letter dated December 15, 1842 was sent by Pastor Lasius of Rottnow to Pastor Kindermann. The letter states that they (he and Barschall) had not found him in Cammin and had heard that he had already traveled to Gramenz. He and Barschall requested that he come to Versin. They hope that the disharmony between them can be resolved since their discussions with Ehrenström have gone well. Barschall sends his regards. On the same day Lasius and Barschall write in a report to the Upper Church College that they should deal with Pastor Kindermann about his posting to the church. Since they had not found him in Cammin, they asked him to come to Versin near Stolpe as soon as he received the letter. However Pastor Kindermann could not make the journey to Versin; instead he returned to his parish in Cammin, where Lasius and Barschall subsequently found him, after they had suspended him for his refusal to come to Versin!! In Cammin they scheduled an investigative hearing with him in which:

1) Pastor Kindermann declared that he was not in agreement with the synodal decrees.
2) That he wanted to emigrate with his congregation.
3) That he did not accept the suspension because it was necessary to serve the congregation, which was emigrating with him. Afterwards Pastor Kindermann conceded to a suspension of 14 days in the hope that a better resolution to the matter might be found in the interim. Pastor Kindermann also believed that in this manner he might remain at peace with them and thus emigrate in peace.

6) A letter now follows from church advisor Barschall dated February 25, 1843 in which he indicates at the behest of the Upper Church College, that the commission conducting the disciplinary hearing against Pastor Kinder shall consist of Pastor Dr. Schröder, Pastor Wagner and landowner Zahn; if he has any objections to any of these jurors, he should submit them to the Upper Church College within 8 days; if he does not do so the case would be decided by these judges. — Pastor Kindermann gave this response: that to accept the synodal decrees would be contrary to God's word, the symbolic books and his conscience; besides which, he would conduct his office in a different part of the world upon his emigration, thus exiting the boundries of the Lutheran church of Prussia and going beyond the confines governed by the synodal verdicts. For his part any objections to the above-named jurors were of no consequence.

7) At the same time, February 28, 1843 the Upper Church College wrote a 2-page refutation of his letter to the college, dated February 16th. In it he was accused of willfulness in having accepted the suspension only until May 1st and he was charged with lying in having called this suspension the fruit of hasty ardor on the part of Lasius and Barschall; before his congregation he had dismissed the findings presented in the letter of the committee; he had misled the congregation in Oderbruch behind the back of the Upper Church College; he claimed that the Upper Church College should have let him know beforehand if it intented to issue a statement to the congregation in Oderbruch concerning "two well-known" preachers who were said to be seducers; he had broadcast his damning verdict concerning the synodal decrees when he preached, thus inciting and unhinging the congregations, never saying a word to his church superiors, never considering that his censure might be ungrounded. He should have thought of the reckoning to come (Luke 6: 41, 42); he should not have forgotten that arrogance and conceit come before the fall; for the sake of charity however they would lift his suspension.

What follows is the supposed refutation —

1) Pastor Kindermann was guilty of not obeying the suspension unconditionally.
2) He was responsible for the unwholesome emigration situation and he behaved as though he alone was wise and clever.
3) For the sake of Christian charity they were willing to rescind the synodal decrees with which he took exception.

Go on to pages 43 - 47

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

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks