Kirchliches Informatorium Volume 17, May 1869 & June 1869

Volume 17, May 1869: pages 7 - 9


of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued from Volume 16, page 184

Chapter IV

Growth of the congregation. Beginning of the doctrinal teaching facility later known as the Martin Luther College. The period from 1840 to 1843.


During this period the congregation in Buffalo had completed enough of the structure of the Trinity Church at the corner of Goodell and Maple Streets so that church services could be held there. The church was dedicated during Pentacost in 1840. Until that time services had been held in various rented locations. The last place was on Main Street, where a fire destroyed all but a small portion of the emigrant congregation's valuable library.

The foundation and basement were made of quarry stone upon which a wood frame church rested. The school was in the basement and in a short time there were 200 children in attendance as the congregation

grew to include emigrants from Prussia, Hannover and Mecklenburg. Friedrich Müller, now a pastor, A. Lemcke and von Rohr taught at the school after the defection of Zion and Dreyer.

The congregation was still poor yet supported the pastor through the collection gathered at each church service (which was placed in the collection bag brought from Germany.) Pastor Müller managed on a monthly stipend of $6 to $8 earned as school organist, cantor and sexton although he often received job offers from Americans to act as musical director, a position which paid $50 per month. Later von Rohr assumed some of Müller's custodial duties.

Müller also gave the Christian youth instruction in instrumental music and built a musical choir with organ accompanied by trumpets, horns, clarinets, violins and flutes. The Magdeburg congregation had brought the small organ with them.

Müller also earned his living by arranging his Buffalo Songbook into a chorale for four voices. He composed devotional choral pieces for the organ with instrumental acompaniment, which were performed on feast days. They attracted large audiences because they represented something quite new for the Americans. At the time Buffalo consisted of scarcely 8 to 10 thousand residents and there were only one or two musical bands in the area.

When von Rohr was appointed as second instructor he was paided $3 per month. On the advice of Pastor Grabau and some Christian friends he married the Christian maiden Margarethe Lützel from Magdeburg in the fall of 1840. She had been a true friend to von Rohr's second wife, who died of cholera in Magdeburg 3 years earlier. She had also been a true friend to von Rohr's daughter Julie, who was 5 years old at the time of her mother's death.

In 1854 Pastor Müller married Julie on the advice of his ministerial brother, Pastor Kindermann of Kirchhayn in Wisconsin.

Along with performing his school duties and his theological studies, von Rohr sought to provide his family with private instruction in German and English.

In the summer of this year [1840] Pastor Grabau had started a preparatory seminary from which came the Martin Luther College. In 1853 the synod purchased a piece of land from Mr. Patchin on Maple Street in Buffalo and began its construction. Pastor Grabau was put in charge of the purchase as it is written in the 4th Synodal Letter. See Supplement 5 * The money was collected from people in the synod and from friends among the Americans outside the synod. Money was also collected in Germany by the synodal deputies Grabau and von Rohr. The remainder was derived through yearly contributions by the synod's congregations.

The first two students were capable young men named Georg Schulz and Friedrich Stock. Later came Herrmann Lange, now pastor Fr. Müller and von Rohr.

Georg Schulz and Fr. Stock left the facility after a couple years and chose different professions. Herrmann Lange died in 1855 while acting as a true young pastor in New Walmore. God the Lord preserved him from many difficult temptations to sin during those last troubled times; — perhaps he faced fewer than most of our younger and older pastors.

In the beginning seminary instruction was limited about two hours a day


* Thus we have it in writing. Return to text

from 4 to 6 in the afternoon because the children's school was in operation from 8 to 11 in the morning and 1 to 4 in the afternoon. Private instruction was given in the evening. A portion of the night was offered up to private study.

The first attempts at communication from the Saxon preachers occurred in the spring of 1840 after they had expelled Stephan for his immoral conduct.

In 1838 von Rohr had been appointed deputy to negotiate with the pastors of this group to see if we might unite with them. At the time this seemed a good prospect because we only had 2 pastors, Grabau and Krause, while the Saxons had 7 pastors and 7 ministerial candidates for the 800 souls of the emigration congregation.

Von Rohr met with Pastors Keyl, Löber, Walther, Bürger, Gruber, etc. in Bremen. He accompanied them to Bremen harbor at the time of their shipboarding. Stephan had not yet arrived. Many days of discussion yielded a distinct impression of their erroneous opinions and fanatical subservience under Stephan. They said they had chosen him to be their Ersa. They gave him full power over their spiritual and worldly lives and unlimited authority over their finances. Later on we heard that they had all sworn an oath of fealty to him.

Von Rohr informed them that the intermixing of the spiritual and worldly realms was against the tenets of the 28th Article of the Augsburg Confession and a deviation from the doctrine of our church. He said he considered them righteous Christians, who had been led astray, and he hoped that God would open their eyes, perhaps through Stephan's great fall.

Remembering this event, Löber wrote around this time to von Rohr, asking his forgiveness

for not heeding his sincere warning. He wished to be accepted into our fraternal community.

Pastor Grabau responded in a warm and brotherly manner since von Rohr had already gone on to Wisconsin. He reported on our situation at the time and sent them a copy of the above-mentioned Pastoral Letter. Pastor Grabau began negotiations with them for the care of our congregations by sending a few of their preachers and candidates. He specifically had in mind offering appointments to Pastors Keyl and Gruber to tend the congregations in Eden, near Buffalo, and Humberston in Canada. Later Pastor Grabau offered then candidate Brohm appointment to the congregation in New York. Löber sent back his group's new church orders.

               To be continued

June 1869: pages 17 - 19


of the origin, emigration, settlement and ecclesiastic development of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church or Congregation, which emigrated from Prussia between the years 1839 and 1843, now known as the Buffalo Synod.

Continued from Volume 17, page 9

In the summer of 1841 Pastor Krause arrived in Buffalo in accordance with his wish and the mandate of Pastor Fritsche that Krause seek repentance. Krause was appointed to the Buffalo congregation. Both pastors now set to work to warn the fallen Silesians and the Roggenbuck party. Both groups were called before the Christian congregations several times. Their testimony was heard concerning their erroneous teaching in regard to the Dresden Catechism and their gangster activities. They had permitted the gardener Faude to distribute the eucharist to them. Faude had also performed a marriage ceremony. Roggenbuck of Pomerania had ordained the tailor Amrey of Berlin to act as the congregation's preacher and when his preaching no longer pleased them they fired him. Because of this poor Amrey went mad and had to be taken to the insane asylum. And there were other incidents.

They received several warnings from the entire Buffalo congregation along with both pastors, which they rejected with defiance and scorn. On September 14, 1841 after nearly two years of repeated warnings they were placed under the Christian ban. They burned the written notice, calling it a papal bull, on a day of repentance during the church service in front of the church. One of the German secular newspapers praised the action.

Pastor Krause received an appointment from our congregations in Freystatt and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He left to go there in late fall.

Around this time Pastor Moritz Bürger came with legal counsel Marbach from Wisconsin on their return trip to Germany. Bürger was moved to remain because of an appointment by the exommunicated Silesians and Pomeranian. Pastor Grabau had advised him not to get involved with these people. He tried to convince Bürger of the pure teachings of our church, the justification for our church acts and the proper course our church had pursued in administering Christian discipline to these people in executing the order of excommunication. Bürger defiantly responded, "I didn't ask about the church."

After he accepted the appointment from this gang, Bürger returned to Pastor Grabau and asked for an explanation of our church orders. Pastor Grabau responded that by accepting this appointment he had become a gang preacher and our church acts were not open to examination by him.

In the presence of von Rohr, Bürger read a letter aloud from the gangsters in which it was stated that the church in Buffalo had false teachings. Pastor Grabau answered, "It is not a duty of my office that I listen to letters from gangsters, which the congregations would not want to hear nor is it my duty to deal with a preacher from such a gang."

Bürger came to Buffalo in the conviction that the Saxon preachers would ever remain Stephanists. He also wrote scandalous letters to his friend about our church. Reports concerning the course of church discipline administered to these people had already circulated among the Saxon preachers. At another time they requested information on Bürger's slanderous accusations.

This was the beginning of the Bürger gang in the year 1841. They later built a church on William Street. In 1847 the Missouri Synod accepted them and their preacher, M. Bürger, into their synodal ranks. In 1867 they united with the fallen congregation members of our synod in Buffalo under Hochstetter and established themselves under the name the "First Evangelical-Lutheran Trinity Church" on Michigan Street.

An amicable exchange of letters with the Saxon preachers lasted into the year 1842. They withheld judgment on the Pastoral Letter, first desiring to hear what we thought about their new church order.

To avoid dispute Pastor Grabau refrained from making a decision, thinking that the matter could be left to a synodal assembly, which would meet sometime in the future. At the time he had been working on alterations to the old Lutheran church orders so they would apply to our current set of circumstances. He wanted to tend to these first.

In 1842 theological candidate Brohm received an appointment to our congregation in New York along with a request that he be ordained for the vocation.

Pastor Brohm came to Buffalo in 1843 on his way to New York. By his word and his demeanor we could see that there was still good in the Saxon preachers.

However the correspondence we received in 1842 still showed mistrust on the part of pastors Löber, Keyl and Gruber. As they themselves acknowledged, this was due to new slanderous letters received from Bürger.

Previously Pastor Keyl had written that they had awakened from the sinful slumber of Stephanism, had joyfully read the Pastoral Letter and now their response depended upon our explanation of the "elder constitution."

In his response Grabau spoke of the difficulty of applying the old church orders to our current situation — "The notion of state laws inherent to the old Lutheran church orders will and must fall, but we must ever more steadfastly hold onto the basis in gospel behind it."

In June 1842 there was another inquiry into whether the ban had been applied to the entire group of Silesians or just certain individuals. The response from Pastor Grabau and

the congregation in Buffalo stated:

1) The ban had been placed on certain named individuals and they received notification of their sins.

In response to this Pastors Löber, Gruber and Keyl sent a letter in October 1842 expressing their concerns that perhaps Pastors Grabau and Krause had misused their offices. More letters had come to them from Bürger and they requested additional information. They received this in February 1843. Our hopes that they would be satisfied with our response were dashed when Löber, Gruber and Keyl published their critique of the Pastoral Letter in July 1843. This critique caused a bitter theological battle, which exists to this day.

In this critique the authors could not and did not prove that Pastor Grabau was guilty of erroneous teachings. They only suggested certain far-flung interpretations and possible consequences of his statements and attempted to refute them. It clearly demonstrated their own faulty precepts as represented by their new church orders concerning the high court of the local congregations, the role of the ministry, etc. Over the course of time their errors have become ever more apparent as seen in the Buffalo Colloquium and their latest synodal letters.

These pastors would not let matters rest. In the year 1843 they began to seize portions of our ministerial territory by sending gang preachers to our fallen congregation members. Pastor Walther sent the unordained theological candidate Klügel, known for his Calvinist teachings on predetermination,

to Milwaukee. Klügel gathered up our banned members there and formed a countercongregation, thus following Bürger's example of building an altar against our altar.

Pastor Grabau wrote a letter to Pastor Walther in St. Louis on November 23, 1843 in which he stated that the feigned love and humility he encountered in the gangster Klügel pained him deeply. There was as little hope for Klügel as there was for Stephan. Walther along with his brothers in office might wish to expel Klügel from their church community because of his gangster activities and Calvinist teachings. They should also consider recalling the unordained ministerial candidate Fürbringer from his ministerial duties and discontinue their hostilies.

Pastor Grabau also wrote that he had received the long letter (critique) concerning his Pastoral Letter, merely commenting that he was more disappointed than happy with their response. The letter contained false suppositions, many misinterpretations and even some untruths whereas the wording in the Pastoral Letter proved just the opposite. They had expressed irrational fears and teachings concerning the pastoral office with which he could not agree because they went against the word of God and the symbolic books of the church.

In the year 1844 Pastor Grabau wrote his anti-critique. In 1849 Pastor Löber published a response and all three articles appeared in a book titled The Pastoral Letter of Pastor Grabau of Buffalo.

               To be continued

Go to Volume 17, July & August 1869

Go to Index

Microfilm provided by The Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

Imaging & translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks