Who We Are –
What makes the Lutheran Church distinct from others in the Christian community is our approach towards God’s grace and salvation. We believe that we are saved from sins by God’s grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide). We also value sacraments as means of grace working towards justification and sanctification.
First and foremost, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior, and is the fulfillment of God’s love and salvation, as written in the Old Testament of the Bible. Through belief and acceptance of the death and the resurrection of Jesus, we can be reconciled with God and are given the promise of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that He has supremacy over life and death, and thus has the power to bestow eternal life among us.
Where We Come From –
Lutheranism, the branch of Christianity that traces its interpretation of the Christian religion to the teachings of Martin Luther and the 16th-century movements that issued from his reforms. Luther was a Catholic monk and professor of theology who resided in Germany. The term Lutheran, which appeared as early as 1519, was coined by Luther’s opponents. The self- designation of Luther’s followers was “evangelical”—that is, centered on the Gospel. After the Diet of Speyer in 1529, when German rulers sympathetic to Luther’s cause voiced a protest against the diet’s Catholic majority, which had
overturned a decree of 1526, Luther’s followers came to be known as Protestants. However, because both evangelical and Protestant proved to be overly broad designations (before long they also included the Reformed churches), eventually the name Evangelical Lutheran became standard. Another name occasionally
used is Churches of the Augsburg Confession, which recalls the Lutheran statement of faith presented to the German emperor at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. In the United States several nomenclatures have been used, all of which, with the exception of the Evangelical Catholic Church, include the term Lutheran in their titles (e.g., the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod). Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world, with approximately
eighty million members.
According to Luther, God viewed all humans as sinners. Luther argued that entrance to heaven was not based on a person’s worthiness. Completing good works did not attain someone salvation. Only if a person believed in God’s existence and greatness, would he or she receive God’s grace. One must have faith in God’s love. Unlike Roman Catholics who practiced seven sacraments, Lutherans endorsed only two: baptism and communion. Rather than conducting
services in Latin like the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church had its ministers give sermons in the language of their congregates. In France, ministers delivered sermons in French and, in England, in English. Latin was a language that usually only the college-educated people understood. Lutherans believed that all people should have access to God’s word. Lutheranism permitted the congregation to
have larger control over religious leaders. The Lutheran Church also permitted church members to play an active role in religious services, including allowing the congregation to profess their love of God through song. In essence, Lutheranism was a much more democratic religious faith than Roman Catholicism. Lutheranism arrived in North America during the 1600s. The majority of the first Lutherans settled in New Amsterdam (modern-day New York City). In the 1700s,
thousands of German Lutherans migrated to Pennsylvania. During the late 1700s and the early 1800s, these people slowly moved westward into what was first the Northwest Territory. Most of these Lutherans were German immigrants. Every community with a sizable German population had a Lutheran congregation. Ministers conducted most Lutheran services in German rather than English. The Lutherans of the time placed a heavy emphasis on education.
Where We’re Headed –
There are seven mission priorities of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, as reaffirmed at the 2019 LCMS Convention. A resolution from the Convention stated that “our commitment as LCMS congregations and workers is to walk together with the Word of God as our only guide for doctrine and practice.” The emphasis here is that we strive to “Make Disciples for Life.”
Plant, sustain, and revitalize Lutheran churches.
Support and expand theological education.
Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
Promote and nurture the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of pastors and professional church workers.
Enhance early childhood, elementary and secondary education, and youth ministry.
Strengthen and support the Lutheran family in living out God’s design.