This article, written in German by Rev. G. Birkmann for the 21 January 1937 edition of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt was transalted by Ray Martens.
Dear Mr. Proske [editor of the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt]:
In your newspaper, the Giddings Deutsches Volksblatt, you have asked me to write something for the paper about what is called the Postoak Conference. The same request has come to me from other sources. Fairly soon, this conference will gather again in Swiss Alp. I wish to comply with the request before that and report something about the subject to the extent I can. Let me say next that one must distinguish between district conferences and the smaller conferences. The Postoak Conference belongs to the latter group. We have two district conferences in Texas, north and south. Each gathers every year, except in the years that the general synod gathers. In those years, there is a district-wide pastors’ conference and teachers’ conference in the state, and the district conferences are omitted. The border between the two district conferences is established by the route of the International and Great Northern Railroad out of Austin. Austin, Thorndale, and Taylor are counted with the northern conference. But what lies south of this railroad belongs to the southern district conference. Also the congregations in the southwest part of the state, in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, Palacios, Bishop etc.
This division into two district conferences has existed since 1906, when the Texas District taken out of the Southern District and then became a separate district. At about the same time, both district conferences were divided again into smaller circuits, also called visitation circuits. The northern district conference now has three such: central Texas, north Texas, and Panhandle. The southern conference likewise has three: southeast, Postoak, and southwest (of which both San Antonio and the Valley are parts). The Postoak Conference now, as also previously, consists of the congregations in Lee County, Fayette County, Lavaca County, and Smithville. By far the most of the congregations in this smaller conference are found in Lee County, where post oaks are mainly to be found, and thus the name Postoak.
The Postoak Conference meets twice a year, as do the other smaller conferences. The sessions go on for two days, while the larger conferences as a rule go for three, sometimes requiring more if they include a Sunday in the conference. The minutes of the larger conferences are reviewed and reported on by a committee of the district. The minutes of the smaller conferences, however, are kept, to be sure, but they are not subject to district control.
The Postoak Conference also serves the purpose of giving the pastors opportunity to partake of Holy Communion. On the evening of the first day of the assembly, a service is held with the celebration of Communion. A sermon and a confessional address are delivered by pastors in attendance. In the sessions, presentations about the Word of God are given, for which reason specific assignments are made to specified members in advance. They read what they have prepared, and then the others talk about the doctrine that has been treated or about the specific biblical text that has been interpreted.
Most often also, questions about ministerial practice are addressed to the conference by individual members. It happens often that one is perplexed about how an individual situation should be handled. One is then very thankful if he finds brothers who have a remedy.
The Postoak Conference lags behind the others in count. The Southeast Conference has about twenty-five members and the Southwest not quite as many, about twenty, but the Postoak numbers only about fourteen. Right now there are about a dozen, yet always enough to have a wonderful and blessed conference.
There were about eleven or twelve of our pastors in Texas when I came to the state sixty years ago. At that time, two-thirds of all the congregations were in Lee County and in Fayette County, along with four or five others east and south, one in Washington County, one in Houston, and three [two?] others in the country in Harris County. That was all. Most of our conferences in those days were in the Postoak area—since then our synod in Texas has spread out from here. No fewer than fourteen congregations in our state owe their founding or certainly their growth to the mother church of the first pastor of our synod in Texas, who immigrated here eighty-four years ago, the old father Rev. Kilian, along with others who back then were founded by Wends, including the congregations in our Lee County.
I remember the old times of earlier years and say with Psalm 77, “Let us remember the old times and thank God for them,” and let us never say as someone once said to me, “The farmer pays no attention to what is past.” The Postoak Conference is small, but it is a reminder of the old days in earlier years. And its earlier pastors and teachers will be remembered fondly: Pastors Kilian, Geyer, Stiemke, Kasper., Ernst, Rische, Moerbe, Buchschacher, Bernthal, Wunderlich, and others, and Teachers Kilian, Leubner, Schleier, Werner, H, Schroeder, etc.
In conclusion I wish to say that both pastors and teachers belong to the larger conferences (northern and southern), while only pastors attend the smaller conferences.
G. Birkmann, Pastor em.
Giddings, Texas, January 18, 1937