Today is the Commemoration of Friedrich Wyneken. In today’s sermon, Rev. Bob Smith, one of our librarians who specializes in archives and history, referenced the letter from a St. Paul, Fort Wayne, elder, pleading for a pastor, following the death of their own young pastor in 1838. His plea would bring Wyneken to the area.
You can download a copy of the translated letter here: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/SuelflowSendusafaithfulShepherd.pdf, which includes notes and explanations. The translated text of the letter has also been copied and pasted below:
Fort Wayne, June 4th, 1838
I write with tears in my eyes and with a trembling hand to inform you that on May 23, at 8 o’clock in the morning, it pleased the almighty Lord of life and death to call into eternity our beloved Pastor, J[esse]. Hoover, at the age of 28. The deceased was bedridden for about 12 days, but had been in failing health for a longer period. Nevertheless, he pursued his calling with tireless zeal, for nothing, even in his illness, was more dear to him than his congregation. I visited him several times. When I visited him the first time in the company of several brothers, he asked me to read, for his personal edification, a chapter from the Bible. We read the 4th chapter of Acts, after which we prayed, and then we departed. When I visited him the next time, his illness had progressed to the point where he could no longer converse. On the morning of his death he did not recognize me. He died a blessed death, completely in the faith.
We buried him, our teacher, with love and thanksgiving, according to German order [Ordnung]. In the church the congregation sang: “After Trial-Shortened Days.” The procession following the casket was greater than had ever been seen in Ft. Wayne – a tribute to the love and esteem in which he was held, even by the enemies of Christianity and the Church. He was a good man. At the grave we sang the hymn: “All Men Living Are But Mortal.” After this I encouraged the congregation to remain unified so we will not be destroyed. The funeral sermon was preached in English by Mr. Baal, a Methodist minister, because no German preacher lived within miles of this area. If an English Pastor had died, it might have been possible for someone else to fulfill that duty. There is no one here among the German immigrants to preach the words of eternal life. For that reason, have pity, honored fathers and brothers and send us a Pastor. Not only the congregation in Ft. Wayne, but also a seemingly strong congregation in Adams County, Indiana mourns the loss of the deceased. If you canvas the northern part of Indiana you will soon see how important it is that you send us a faithful Shepherd. The harvest is great but unfortunately there are no workers. If it is not possible to send us a Pastor, dear brothers, then send us a circuit rider [Reiseprediger]. We hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
We heard that it was resolved at the conference in 1837 to hold the next conference in Ft. Wayne. I hope you do not change your resolve because Pr. Hoover has been called from us. Coming here you would be better able to assess our situation.
Remember us in your prayers, and cause a sigh to ascend the throne of grace in our behalf that the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ Himself might build us up and encourage us in our most holy faith, and comfort us with His help, and may the Holy Spirit sustain us. Greet all the brothers in Christ Jesus. Grace, peace, and blessing to the members of the honorable Synod.
Written by order of the church council at Ft. Wayne,