Chronicle of the Trinity First Evangelical-Lutheran Church - Pages 22 - 25

To make more room for the school the church was used. In May 1866 Pastor Ruhland became pastor of Wolcottsville and Wollcottsburg.

A Union in Truth

The Buffalo Synod, with which Pastor Grabau was in conflict at the time, and the [Missouri] Synod gathered here in Buffalo from May 28th to June 14th to see if it was possible to reestablish unity. This however was not achieved. Rather in consequence Pastor Grabau withdrew from the Buffalo Synod. Soon after this a religious caucus for doctrinal unity was held between the representatives of the Missouri and Buffalo Synod, whereby the long dispute was settled, which later led to the union of Pastor Hochstetter's congregation with that of Pastor Ruhland's Trinity congregation. We must not be too hasty in our consideration of this important piece in the history of our congregation. Pastor Chr. Hochstetter described the matter in his preface to the history of the Evangelical-Lutheran Missouri Synod briefly as follows:
"I was called to served as deacon to Pastor Grabau and the Trinity congregation in Buffalo in 1857. I stayed there under turbulent circumstances for ten years. In February 1866 I found it was necessary to issue a letter of grievance to the ministry of the Buffalo Synod. The arbitration led to a schism in which Pastor Grabau called together an extra session of the synod in May of the same year whereby he and three other preachers divested themselves from the Buffalo Synod. In September of the same year the writer of these lines along with the late Pastor von Rohr met with Prof. Dr. Walther in the residence of Dr. Sihler in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Arrangements were made to hold a colloquium in Buffalo (51 ), which took place in November 1866 between the representatives of the Missouri and Buffalo synods. This colloquium is described in Chapters 8 and 9 of this volume.

L. Dulitz

Since the representatives of the Buffalo Synod acknowledged at this public colloquium that the assailed teaching of the Missouri Synod, namely the teaching of church and office [ruling hierarchy] which is part of the written and symbolic confession of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, (only one Buffalo delegate still had reservations), the greater portion of the Buffalo Synod members fell in line with the Missouri Synod members (52 ) and the many-year dispute between the synods came to an end."

At the beginning of the year 1867 arrangements were made to unite with Pastor Hochsetter and his congregation. Six points (53 ) were put forth on which the representatives of both congregations and their pastors deliberated at several meetings. Sixty-four members of Pastor Hochsetter's congregation were present and there were 62 members from Pastor Ruhland's congregation. The unification was completed and the united congregation chose the name First (54 ) Trinity Evangelical-Lutheran Church. In the 23rd yearly volume of The Lutheran, issue 21, the following was reported:

"The First German Trinity Lutheran Congregation
of the Unchanged Augsburg Confession
in Buffalo, N.Y.

"This is the name which the united assembled congregations of Pastors Chr. Hochsetter and Fr. Ruhland chose on the evening of Easter Sunday, the 21st of April of that year. Both congregations lived through many turbulent times and conclaves. Pastor Ruhland's congregation, which until then had its church on William Street, and the Buffalo congregation, which had operated for more than a year out of its old church, succeeded in achieving Christian unification. When the written proceedings of the colloquium appeared in print, Pastor Hochstetter went over them point by point with his congregation, showing how they were the Word of God and

His Symbols. He put forth examples to clarify. On the first Sunday after Epiphany there was a three-hour discussion during which the final question was put before the entire congregation (including women and girls) for a vote. Eleven points of doctrine concerning church and office were brought up. When counterpoint was laid before the congregation and it was asked that those who opposed or had conscientious objections to it should stand, no one rose. The blessing was given thereby which would bring about communion with the brothers in faith from Missouri and the true Church. Further steps were indicated that a meeting would be held so that everyone would understand when assemblies of both church committees would take place. Pastor Ruhland advised here and at later times that current circumstances could disintegrate if a congregation united in faith could not work to become a united congregation in fact. The partionist spirit resulting from over twenty years of quarreling had deeply entrenched both sides and there were often still traces of it. The Synod exercised a particularly beneficial influence when at the end of February it assembled at the Martin Luther College under the chairmanship of Pastor Zeumer. Heartfelt unity and the forgiving spirit, which the hierarchies of both the Missouri and Buffalo Synods encountered here, were not lacking and new trust was established. It was put forth whether geographically separate parishes were feasible when both congregations lived so close together. No resolution could be hoped for under these circumstances. If they wished to avoid destructive rivalries they had to merge into one unit.

F. Th. Rühland

"Thus it came about that both congregations decided to plan the construction of a new church building. They were convinced that if they did not wish to work against each other they must unite their efforts for the better good. The beautiful fruit of resolute reconciliation would be in communal construction of a spacious church! This is what some people said. Such an undertaking must be preceded by local unification into one congregation. Each congregation chose a large committee to advise them and a meeting was planned. Pastor Ruhland's congregation was as resolute as the other congregation; after many conferences and discussions, they held their first vote on Palm Sunday concerning unification and what it meant. Two-thirds majority were in favor. Those in the minority expressed their objections in a Christian manner. It was decided that a meeting of both congregations would take place in the French church. This same locale had been used on November 20th of the prior year for the colloquium between the representatives of the Buffalo and Missouri Synods. The meeting took place. The invocation began: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and let them experience the joy of Easter, in which Christ rose from the grave. With this joy let this meeting be useful and productive. Then the congregations gave proof of their willingness to resolve matters. There was a note of discord sounded in response to one of the questions raised but it was silenced by Pastor Ruhland and the majority of his congregation. Approximately 130 voting members came to the conclusion that they wanted to become a united congregation,

Go on to Pages 26 - 29 .

Return to Index