Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
- The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is one of the largest Lutheran bodies in the United States. The relatively conservative church was founded by Lutherans from Saxony who protested a forced Lutheran-Reformed merger in that German state in the early 19th century.Some Lutherans in Saxony felt that the new Evangelical Church compromised the Lutheran confessions to which they were attached. In 1837, a group of them arrived in the United States under the leadership of Bishop Martin Stephan (1777-1846). They settled in Perry County, Missouri (north of Cape Girardeau).Soon after their arrival, the group dismissed Stephan in favor of Carl F W. Walther (1811-87). In the face of the crisis, Walther affirmed the authority of Lutheran orthodoxy and championed congregational rights. As the group spread, Walther settled in St. Louis as pastor of the believers there and opened a school that eventually became Concordia Theological Seminary. He founded a magazine, Der Lutheraner, in 1844, and then in 1847 founded the Missouri Synod as a fellowship of16 congregations and 22 ministers. The synod reached out to German-speaking Lutherans across the United States. It emerged as the major defender of Lutheran confessionalism (that emphasized Lutheran orthodoxy) as opposed to the PIETISM (which emphasized personal devotion) that dominated Lutheranism in the eastern United States.In the late 19th century, the Missouri Synod began what became an expansive world missionary program that at its height supported workers in 70 countries. Today, the church works in partnership with like-minded churches, some an outgrowth of its missionary endeavor, in some 40 countries, and supports around 300 full-time personnel around the globe.The American church in 2003 reported 2.5 million members. Its headquarters are in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council, but has rejected membership in the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches.See also Lutheranism.Further reading:■ Walter A. Baepler, A Century of Grace: A History of the Missouri Synod, 1847-1947 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1947)■ Carl S. Meyer, Moving Frontiers: Readings in the History of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986)■ E. Clifford Nelson, The Lutherans in North America (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980)■ Eldon Weisheit, The Zeal of His House: Five Generations of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod History (1847-1972) (St. Louis: Concor-dia Publishing House, 1973).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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