History of the LCMS
The roots of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod run deep, tracing back to 1847 when Saxon and other German immigrants established a new church body in America, seeking the freedom to practice and follow confessional Lutheranism.
Initial members, which included 12 pastors representing 14 congregations from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, New York and Ohio, signed the church body’s constitution on April 26, 1847, at First Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Chicago, Ill.
Originally named The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States, the name was shortened to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 1947 on the occasion of our 100th anniversary.
Over the years, hundreds of books chronicling the Synod’s rich history have been written. One of the most comprehensive is Zion on the Mississippi.
The First President
The Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther (Oct. 25, 1811 – May 7, 1887) served as the first president of the church body. As a young pastor, Walther joined the Saxon Germans who immigrated to the United States in 1839, and at the age of only 27 found himself leader of the group that settled in Perry County, Mo. Dr. Walther played a key role in the founding of the LCMS in 1847, and he served as the church body’s first president, holding office from 1847 to 1850 and again from 1864 to 1878.
Walther presided over the young Synod, leading its growth through the years of the great migration of German immigrants, serving as president of Concordia Seminary from 1850 to 1887, and serving as editor of Der Lutheraner, a leading magazine of the day that reached Confessional Lutherans across the country. Today, Walther is revered as the leading Lutheran theologian of his time, and he’s fondly known as the “Father of the Missouri Synod.” Read more about Walther.