About the President
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is the 13th man to serve as president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) since its founding in 1847. He was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2013.
Harrison is the church’s chief ecclesiastical officer, and his duties include:
- Supervising the doctrine taught and practiced by its nearly 9,000 ordained ministers;
- Representing the LCMS with its partner church bodies throughout the world; and
- Overseeing all officers, executives and agencies of the LCMS.
In 2001, Harrison became executive director of the LCMS’ former World Relief and Human Care ministry. Based at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, Harrison oversaw the church’s multimillion-dollar responses to epic disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the Asia tsunami and the Haiti earthquake; managed relationships with some 120 LCMS Recognized Service Organizations and other inter-Lutheran social ministry organizations; worked in consultation with LCMS partner/sister churches to build capacity during mercy outreach efforts; and managed the church’s global pro-life efforts.
Harrison served as a pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Westgate, Iowa (1991-95) and Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. (1995-2001). In Fort Wayne, his parish embarked on the St. Peter/Zion Project for Neighborhood Renewal, a now nationally recognized neighborhood revitalization effort.
Owing to the success of this effort, Harrison later founded Lutheran Housing Support Corporation, a faith-based housing organization headquartered at the LCMS International Center that helps revitalize communities and renew neighborhoods across the country.
Education and Service
Harrison graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1984. Following his graduation, he and his wife, Kathy, spent a year as missionaries in a remote Canadian Cree Indian village with the Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots.
Harrison earned a Master of Divinity in 1989 and a Master of Sacred Theology in 1991, both from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He has pursued additional graduate study at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In 2011, he received two honorary doctorates: a Doctor of Laws from Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., and a Doctor of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
Before being elected president, Harrison served on numerous boards for church and community organizations.
Harrison is a prolific writer whose books include A Little Book on Joy, a devotional-style book about finding delight in living a Christ-centered life in today’s society, and Christ Have Mercy: How to Put Your Faith in Action, a book urging Christians to consider the innumerable opportunities they have to show mercy to fellow Christians and to anyone God places in their path.
He compiled and translated At Home in the House of My Fathers, a collection of works by several of the church’s founders, and edited The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters by Hermann Sasse, a prominent confessional Lutheran theologian in the German ecumenical movement of the early 20th century.
Most recently, Harrison revised and edited a new edition of C.F.W. Walther’s The Church and the Office of the Ministry, a seminal writing by the first president of the LCMS, and translated Letters to Lutheran Pastors — Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 an edition of Sasse’s correspondence with Lutheran pastors around the world.
Harrison and his wife live in Ballwin, Mo., and are members of Village Lutheran Church in Ladue, Mo., where Harrison also serves as assistant pastor. They have two sons. Harrison is an avid banjo player and instrumentalist who makes guitars, banjos and mandolins.