March 28, 2014
Artifact: “Missouri Chirpings” Caricature
Significance: Portraying C. F. W. Walther as an eagle may seem like an early April fool’s joke, but it is not. CHI’s collection of Ruhland family papers includes nearly twenty sketches by Rev. Herman Ruhland (1865–1948), many of which are caricatures like this one. These caricatures give us an interesting take on the Missouri Synod’s past. This particular caricature depicts the Buffalo Colloquy, a meeting between the Missouri Synod and dissatisfied members of the Buffalo Synod in 1866.
About the Buffalo Colloquy: Despite initial desires to come together based on a strong adherence to the Lutheran Confessions, the Prussian Lutheran immigrants under J. A. A. Grabau (Buffalo Synod) and the Saxon Lutheran immigrants of the Missouri Synod found themselves disagreeing on many other points, including the doctrine of the ministry. Over time, however, resistance to Grabau’s views grew within the Buffalo Synod and led to a schism. Twelve Buffalo Synod pastors joined the Missouri Synod after the Buffalo Colloquy, which took place from November 20 to December 5, 1866, in Buffalo, New York.
Three clergy and three lay delegates each from the Missouri and Buffalo synods met to discuss doctrinal issues including the church, ministry, excommunication and ordination. The Missouri Synod clergy delegates were H. C. Schwan, C. F. W. Walther and Wilhelm Sihler (pictured on left as noble birds) and the clergy delegates representing the Buffalo Synod were Christian Hochstetter, Heinrich von Rohr and Peter Brand (pictured on right as hairy beasts). Hochstetter and Brand joined the Missouri Synod, but von Rohr still did not agree completely with the Missouri Synod. Although he also broke with the Buffalo Synod, he did not join with Missouri. The Ruhland sketch to the right depicts “The Ruins of Buffalo in Twilight.”
For further reading:
Hunter Richards, “Herman Ruhland: Sketches of Our Past,” Historical Footnotes 57 (Fall 2012): 1–4, 10.
Roy A. Suelflow “The Relations of the Missouri Synod with the Buffalo Synod up to 1866,” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 27 (1954): 1–19, 57–73, 97–132.