LCMS History


The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Founded in 1847

The roots of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod trace 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

WaltherThe 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 only 27 years old, he was the 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. He served as president of Concordia Seminary from 1850 to 1887, and he was 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.”

Concordia Historical Institute

Concordia Historical Institute is the Synod’s department of archives and history. CHI maintains two public museums:

Concordia Seminary Campus
804 Seminary Place
St. Louis, MO 63105-3014

Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Closed on major holidays)

LCMS International Center
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122

Monday-Friday: 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
(Closed on major holidays)

LCMS Historic Sites

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

Consistent with Synod Board policy and in recognition of a more challenging economic and philanthropic/fundraising environment due to inflationary pressure, not more than 12.5 percent of any charitable contribution will be allocated to administering gifts and communicating with contributors. Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

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