Who Are Lutherans (from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)
Today, there are 66 million Lutherans belonging to 250 different autonomous Lutheran churches around the world. The largest numbers of Lutherans are to be found in Germany, the place where the Reformation took place during the early part of the 16th century. The 9.5 million Lutherans in North America belong to 21 different Lutheran church bodies. The largest of these at 4.8 million is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, with 2.5 million baptized members, ranks as the second largest Lutheran church body in North America and the 11th largest denomination in the USA. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) has 410,000 members and is the third largest Lutheran Church in the United States of America.
On April 26, 1847, 12 pastors representing 15 congregations signed a constitution that established “The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States.” Today, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (the name was shortened on its 100th anniversary) has 6,150 congregations served by more than 9,000 professional church workers.
The word “Synod” in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod comes from the Greek words that mean “walking together.” It has rich meaning in our church body because the congregations voluntarily choose to belong to the Synod. Diverse in their service, these congregations hold to a shared confession of Jesus Christ as taught in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Some are located in rural areas, others in inner cities. Some are large; others are very small. Most use English, but some offer worship services in Vietnamese, Spanish, Laotian and other languages.
One Mission–Reaching Out
The Synod has a long history of reaching out to others. LCMS World Mission trains, sends, and supports called career missionaries and appointed volunteer missionaries throughout the United States and in various countries throughout the world where there are mission stations, partner churches or mission relationships. Ministry to African-Americans has been a solid part of the Synod for more than 100 years. In addition, our Library for the Blind produces sermons and devotional literature, and of the approximately 90 deaf congregations maintained by all religious denominations, more than 50 are members of the LCMS.
Well known for its emphasis on Biblical doctrine and faithfulness to the historic Lutheran Confessions, the Synod also seeks new ways of proclaiming the Gospel. Concordia Publishing House, whose Arch Book Series for children has sold more than 55 million copies, is the nation’s fourth-largest Protestant publisher. A pioneer in radio and television work, the Synod operates the world’s oldest religious radio station, KFUO, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Its program, “The Lutheran Hour,” produced by the Synod’s International Lutheran Laymen’s League (LLL), has been aired in North America since 1930. The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), which came into being in 1942, serves as the Synod’s auxiliary for women and has been a leader in supporting missionary outreach in many areas.
Unlike many other churches, the LCMS has never been involved in a major merger. Internationally, the Synod conducts missions or maintains relations with churches in more than 50 different countries. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council, but it does not belong to the Lutheran World Federation, to the National Council of Churches or to the World Council of Churches. The LCMS is in Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with more than twenty five Partner Churches.