It was like a bolt of lightning when it came on June 13th; it was totally unexpected and great alarm and confusion resulted because of it. One man (R. G.) called aloud: Rescind the dismissal from office. (However he received no response. See Numbers 3 and 4.) The late Pastor Rehwald [Rechwald] tried to quiet the dismayed assembly with these words: "Dear Brothers! We could do nothing else. We had to dismiss him. The lawyer wanted it done. We couldn't hold a trial because of the church property."
7. The prevailing spirit was also a secret Missouri spirit:
Pastor Grabau had added these words to his withdrawal: It will show itself within the span of one year (namely whether or not they will dispel the false spirit.) Indeed, it showed itself. After not quite half a year all of Pastor Grabau's oppenents, five in number, aligned themselves with the Missouri Synod. Pastor von Rohr communicated (on page 2 of his new Informatorium dated April 15, 1867) that some of those, who had aligned themselves with Missouri, had already for a year acknowledged Missouri teachings as correct while others, to their own disgrace, had reached this conclusion afterwards. Thus for a long time they had acted as hypocrites.
8. There prevailed an unmerciful spirit, which held power over the greater portion of this synodal assembly. Instead of perceiving the faulty decision concerning Pastor Grabau's suspension and unauthorized and foolish dismissal as a grievous mistake, they prayed and recited a Kyrie Eleison for themselves and said: Lord, take pity on our poor destroyed synod! They acted like the pope after the blood feast of St. Bartholomew's Night, August 24, 1572; on that night and the 30 days which followed 40 thousand protestants were murdered in France. On the afternoon of June 11th after the ministerium had made the decision for dismissal, they sang right before the conclusion of the session the verse: Praise, honor and glory to God; and Pastor von Rohr thanked God that now "things have come this far
and the Godless have been separated from the pious!!?" On the morning of June 12th, after the greater portion of the entire synod had approved the verdict of the ministerium, they sang a song: "Now let all treasure God's mercy." Pastor M.... said a prayer of similar content to that of his father-in-law. (However from the pastors, who had not agreed with this evil course of action, I know that they neither sang along nor prayed with the others. They were enraged by such delusion and could only sigh in distress.)
9. And finally at this travesty of a synod there reigned a blind, stubborn spirit. It may here be recognized that Pastor Grabau's adversaries did not heed the laws of God, which soon afterwards beset and pursued them.
a) Pastor Rechwald, who (as mouth of the synod) on June 13, 1866 spoke: "Dear Brothers! We could do nothing else, we had to dismiss him; the lawyer wanted it done," etc., died before reaching his home.
b) Pastor von Rohr, who tried in vain to snatch the church, the schoolhouse and the parish residence by worldly authority from his agelong friend, Pastor Grabau and his congregation, was interred in a grave, which he had made for another, as the Word of the Lord states in Psalms 7, 16.
c) Pastor von Rohr helped to proclaim the damning verdict over the church fathers in Buffalo, who protected the properly appointed pastor from the disloyal deacon, whom he called the acting pastor (while in reality he is someone who voluntarily distanced himself and deserted the altar of the church) and placed Pastor Grabau, who looked to him for protection, in the hands of the most wicked of criminals (See Number 5.) For this he has received God's punishment, that he in his own congregation was not protected by his church fathers as the properly appointed pastor of New Bergholz but rather was driven out and that it soon went so far that while Wolläger preached in Pastor von Rohr's seized church this man had to preach to a small portion of the congregation in the schoolhouse!
c) How badly things went for him when he engaged in a different battle with Walther at the Buffalo Colloquium on November 20, 1866 without his old teacher; it was like Luke 14, 28 - 31. Of this we will say nothing further than this:
d) Didn't he lack gallantry, for he would not give himself up to imprisonment; and yet his assembled co-disputers were impelled by his reckless campaign, which he thought he could lead. They yielded to the enemy by reaching for the enemy's weapons once they were offered; weapons, which had previously been considered bad when they had been taken up by the enemies coming from Milwaukee in an outbreak of rebellion (or mutiny); weapons, which the parties in rebellion took up in all the congregations of the Buffalo Synod and brandished to create schism and distress.
e) Even Wolläger was led astray from God's Law. He did grievous wrong to the person and office of Pastor Grabau. His conscience told him that he had sinned, as was made clear by some of his open declarations. Also in private talks he admitted this to a certain extent. When I spoke to him in the Fall of 1866: You are guilty of the great calamity, which has devastated the Buffalo Synod, for it was through you that Pastor Grabau was suspended. To this he answered: Dear Pastor G.! I couldn't do anything else since Pastor Grabau did not come to the ministerial assembly! I responded: With these words you pronounce verdict upon yourself, for you have not held to God's Word. Tell me where it is written that one should submit in such blind subservient obedience to God's Church? Pastor Grabau himself called the synod and you had nothing to investigate in his congregation. If you had stayed quietly in Milwaukee and foregone the many trips, things would have gone far better in the synod. To this he did not know how to respond so he remained quiet.
His interference went so far that people caught onto the unjust and insane dismissal-verdict against Pastor Grabau. Not only did he sanction this verdict, but he offered no proper penance for having laid the groundstone causing the feckless suspension, after which came both plaintiffs (von Rohr and Hochstetter) with their twice times seven groups of accusations concerning Pastor Grabau. He sinned most grievously against the synod.
For him things went according to the adage: He dug a grave and hollowed it out and then fell into the grave, which he had made. Psalms 7, 16. Thus God let him fall, in accordance with His Word: Pride goeth before the fall. Proverbs 17, 18. Now he has been deprived of his true vocation due to a two-fold outrage and one is forced to think of Joshua7, 13 when one sees both his evil deeds and the destruction of the Buffalo Synod.
But people have remained until now blind and stubborn in the face of all this and other punishments from God according to the words of the scriptures: You have hit them, but they do not feel it; you vex them, but they do not make themselves better. Jeremiah 5, 3.
Thus it is apparent in word and deed that during and after the horror of a synod of 1866 a false spirit prevailed in the opponents of Pastor Grabau. And it may be added by the undersigner that everything which he offered as proof of his assertion he has experienced first-hand and has daily been an eye and ear witness to, as have other pastors and appointed individuals.
My love for you compells me to say in closing: Dear Brothers! Abandon the battle-ridden path of church regimentation created in early 1866; rescind the unjust suspension and the dismissal and come together in Christian dialog with the establisher of our synod. Let us, as Pastor Grabau admonished the previous summer, hold a day of repentance whereby we heartfeltly forgive one another's transgressions (Jacob 5, 15; Ephesians 4: 31, 32) and come together in proper fraternal reconcilation. If we do not delay this good work we have good reason to hope that we will soon be of one heart and one soul. The enemies will no long triumph over us rather the angels in heaven and we with them will be able to celebrate the reestablishment of peace. May the Prince of Peace, our most praised Savior Jesus Christ, give us true humility and a heart full of love, sympathy, patience and mercy! May He give and maintain in us all God's peace, which is above all reason, and peace with all the children of peace, Matthew 5,9. Indeed may he impart and preserve in us all what he set forth in holy office, where reconcilation is preached and the spirit of truth and
peace prevail so that we may ultimately prove ourselves messengers of peace in our actions and may thus proceed as was intended to the heavenly land of peace! Such is my wish and my request spoken from the heart.
Your estranged but true and honest brother,
Sent from Freistadt, Wisconsin, early Monday, August 5, 1867.
The College Trial
In order to refute a widely-spread slander, in which it was maintained that Pastor Grabau kept the college for his own personal property by means of the deed of ownership and with the help of the civil authorities, it is necessary to mention the following. In summary the matter related to this (as all documents in my hand attest): that the plot of land, on which the college building now stands, was purchased in 1852; there were no college trustees at the time so Pastor Grabau purchased it as representative of the synod and for it. $200 was amassed through collections and modest gifts inside and outside the synod for the purpose. Pastor Grabau finalized the sale in the presence of Dr. Freigang, purchasing 3 lots for $750.00 with Mr. Patchin donating a fourth lot. Pastor Grabau delivered the previously agreed upon $200 on the following day, the 17th of December in the presence of Chairman Reinsch; he took out a mortgage for the remainder of the land's cost. The deed, which Mr. Patchin turned over, was made out to Pastor Grabau as representative of the Buffalo Synod in trust for the synod; that is, "that he would hold the property for the synod." Afterwards at the synodal assembly of June 1853 the college trustees were elected. (See 2nd Synodal Letter, pages 39 and 40.) The deed clearly stated that Pastor Grabau had purchased the property as "holder (in trust) for the synod." Thus before 1866 the synod never felt compelled to change it.
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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 18, 2006