Lutheran Church Missouri Synod History

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.

With the universal Christian Church, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches and responds to the love of the Triune God: the Father, creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death and Satan; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God's Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.

About Us - Being "Lutheran"

Our congregations accept and preach the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone.

Grace Alone

God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.

Faith Alone

By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.

Scripture Alone

The Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.

Learn More

Our Synod (The LCMS) answers frequently asked questions about The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s beliefs and positions.  

Get answers in this FAQ gallery on topics including:

The Bible, Doctrine, Worship/Congregational Life, Denominations, LCMS Views

We Teach

  • Christ as Savior and Lord

    We believe, teach and confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, and that through faith in Him we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation. We confess that “our works can­not reconcile God or merit forgiveness of sins and grace, but that we obtain forgiveness and grace only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ’s sake, who alone has been ordained to be the mediator and propitiation through whom the Father is reconciled” (AC, XX, 9).

    We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and that all who die without faith in Him are eternally damned. We believe that those who believe in Christ will enjoy a blissful relationship with Him during the interim between their death and His second coming, and that on the last day their bod­ies will be raised.

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
  • Law and Gospel  

    We believe that the two chief doctrines of Holy Scripture, Law and Gospel, must be constantly and diligently proclaimed in the church of God until the end of the world, but with due dis­tinction (FC, SD, V, 24).

    The Law, as the expression of God’s immutable will, is to be used by the church to bring men to a knowledge of their sins as well as to provide Christians with instruction about good works (FC, SD, V, 17-18).

    The Gospel receives the primary emphasis in the ministry of the New Testament, for it is the mes­sage that “God forgives them all their sins through Christ, accepts them for His sake as God’s children, and out of pure grace, without any merit of their own, justifies and saves them.” (FC, SD, V, 24)

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
  • The Mission of the Church  

    We believe, teach and confess that the primary mission of the church is to make disciples of every nation by bearing witness to Jesus Christ through the preaching of the Gospel and the admin­istration of the Sacraments.

    Other necessary activities of the church, such as ministering to men’s physical needs, are to serve the church’s primary mission and its goal that men will believe and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  We therefore reject any views of the mission of the church which imply that an adequate or com­plete witness to Jesus Christ can be made without proclaiming or verbalizing the Gospel.

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
  • The Inspiration of Scripture

    We believe, teach and confess that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and that God is therefore the true Author of every word of Scripture. We acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the inspired witness of Holy Scripture in all its parts and words and the witness of every other form of human expression, making the Bible a unique book.

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
  • Original Sin

    We believe, teach and confess that God, by the almighty power of His Word, created all things. We also believe that man, as the principal creature of God, was specially created in the image of God, that is, in a state of righteousness, innocence and blessedness.

    We affirm that Adam and Eve were real historical human beings, the first two people in the world, and that their fall was a historical occurrence which brought sin into the world so that “since the fall of Adam all men who are propagated according to nature are born in sin” (AC, II, 1). We confess that man’s fall necessitated the gracious redemptive work of Jesus Christ and that fallen man’s only hope for salvation from his sin lies in Jesus Christ, his Redeemer and Lord.

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
  • Confessional Subscription

    We reaffirm our acceptance of the Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and our unconditional subscription to “all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God” (Constitution, Article II).

    We accept the Confessions because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for our work as ministers of Jesus Christ and servants of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

    -- Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -

Other Christian Faith Resources 

Christian Cyclopedia

This Internet version of the "Christian Cyclopedia" is produced by The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and allows easy access to the names and terms of significant people, places, ideas, and institutions in church history and secular history. Browsers may move to linked entries and related concepts among the various sections.

Doctrinal Position

These "statements of doctrinal position" explain what The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches about key scriptural and confessional principles.

The Lutheran Confessions

Drawn from God's Word, the "Lutheran Confessions" are a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and serve as authoritative texts for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Need More Information?

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. Learn more of our Lutheran history and shared faith by visiting the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod website.