August 9, 1934 – Memories of Conferences in Earlier Times, Third Continuation

This article by Rev. G. Birkmann, em., and translated by Ray Martens, first appeared in the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt on 9 August 1934.

Conference in Serbin with Rev. Herman Kilian, Fall, 1891

The basis for the discussions was an essay of Dr. Walther, “Why is subscribing to the confessional writings of our Lutheran Church to be unconditional?” that is, quia (“because”), not quatenus (“insofar as”), they agree with the Holy Scriptures. We bind ourselves to the Symbols [i.e., Lutheran confessional writings] because we recognize that they contain nothing other than the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The discussions were stimulating and instructive, for our confessional writings are dear and worthwhile to us.

Reports about missions were also presented, and missionary Paul Heckel from Cat Spring had much to tell. He had served Sealy and Cat Spring and other places for more than a year. Adolf Kramer had been in Coryell County for a year, serving also Clifton and Hubbard (now called Malone), and, in Coryell City, where he lived, had a small congregation. August Wenzel and J. H. Sieck, both from the Texas Synod, became members of our conference after they had submitted to a colloquy examination and had taken calls to congregations in Texas, Wenzel in Manheim, Lee County, and Sieck in Walburg, both installed in 1890.

Conference in Fedor, Fall 1892

Even though it was held in August, this event was called the fall conference. It is worthy of special mention that, after a service at which Rev. M. Heyer of Dallas preached, two candidates were ordained and installed as missionaries, namely, E. F. Moerbe for the northwest area (Abilene and a number of other places which are located on the Texas Pacific Railroad) and Herman Foerster for Hempstead, White Hall, etc.

Rev. H. Schmidt, Heyer’s father-in-law, delivered a sermon in which he preached about the ministry of reconciliation, which he presented so attractively that two young people determined to pursue the ministry.

Conference in Klein, Spring, 1893

Rev. Ziegenhein served the congregation at the time and Teacher Daenzer the school. Rev. Heyer of Dallas presented a scriptural paper on the nature of Christianity. Many errors were found in it, and the conference took pains to remove them and to stress the truth that the essence of Christianity consists in this, that we believe in the Lord Jesus as our only Savior from the distress of our sin, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him etc.

In the previous year three new candidates, apart from the previously mentioned Moerbe and Foerster, were installed in Texas, namely, Traug. Zoch in the mission at La Grange, Hopmann in Malone, and E. W. Wische in Waco. So we had the pleasure of greeting these brothers and of conversing extensively and in interesting ways about the mission work in our state.

Conference with Rev. E. Bernthal in Serbin, August, 1893

The undersigned read his paper here, one already assigned to him several years earlier, about a place in the book of James, the verses where he says about Abraham that he became righteous because of his works. It was pointed out from the context that he was talking about righteous living, not the righteousness of faith, that righteousness which alone has value before God, as the Scriptures testify so clearly.

Candidate Emil Deffner, who was to be installed shortly as pastor in our congregation in the state capital, came to be with us. He was the first resident pastor in our congregation in Austin, where already before then others of our pastors had preached from time to time, especially Hermann Kilian and old Rev. H. Schmidt.

Conference in Houston with Rev. Bernthal, Fall, 1894

The author was absent from this one, and, therefore, cannot report any details, but I do know that there was much discussion about our college [actually only high school years] about to be founded in Giddings. This subject had already been talked about at several of our conferences. During the summer of 1894, a delegation comprised of several congregations in the Giddings area met and adopted a resolution to underwrite the proposed institution. A large house in Giddings was purchased from August Schubert, a merchant in Giddings, and a considerable sum was paid for it, maybe ten thousand dollars. Members of congregations put forward this sum of money, or also donated some of it. Officials to oversee the institution were elected, and a professor (G. P. A. Schaaf) was called, and he was to begin instruction in the fall. He did get it started, but only three students made an appearance, although earlier more had committed to the institution. The few students who first appeared also soon stayed away—they had come from the Serbin area—and Prof. Schaaf then lived in the college building with his family all alone for a year. The group that had wanted the college was forced to sell the property once again, certainly losing not a little in the process. The good intention of those who participated is not to be underestimated.