Additional Resources for We the Church: The Priesthood of All Believers
Use these additional resources to supplement your study on this topic. Because of the Internet's changing nature, a link may modify or get deleted. If you discover a bad link in the list below, please contact us!
The Founding of the LCMS
This video series discusses various aspects of the Saxon immigration and the founding of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The Voyage of the Saxons (by P. E. Kretzmann-traces the Saxon immigration from Saxony, through the ocean voyage, up the Mississippi River to Saint Louis)
"The various events of the ocean voyage were preserved in note-books and diaries, especially by a Mr. G. Guenther, whose accounts were embodied in a small volume, which appeared in Dresden in 1839, entitled Die Schicksale und Abenteuerder aus Sachsen ausgewanderten Stephanianer. These accounts are here drawn upon; they refer to the voyage of the Olbers."
(by W. G. Polack-from the arrival in St. Louis to the move to Perry County)
"Even before Stephan's arrival, articles had appeared in the German newspapers of St. Louis ... in which the immigrants were attacked and ridiculed as deluded people ... Dr. Vehse and a candidate were publicly insulted and stoned on the street. Stones were thrown through the windows into Stephan's quarters."
(by P. E. Kretzmann-describes the move from St. Louis down to Perry County)
(After Stephan's departure) "Even the pastors suffered the severest qualms of conscience, for they likewise were no longer sure whether they could perform the work of their ministry according to God's ordinance. It really seemed that Satan might succeed in disrupting the colony completely and in plunging all its members into destruction and perdition."
(by P. E. Kretzmann)
"One shudders to think what course Lutheran church history in America might have taken if Walther had not carried the day in Altenburg."
Theological Observer -- Martin Stephan: The Other Side of the Story or at Least Part of It
Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, revisits the events surrounding Stephan's deposal and discusses some of the failings of the clergy who opposed him.
You may have noticed that LCMS history offers only one side of the story of Bishop Martin Stephan. His descendants, on the other hand, paint a picture of a pastor falsely accused and driven from office. The family archives briefly sketch what happened to Bishop Stephan when he arrived in Illinois. They also include a long letter from his son Rev. Martin Stephan Jr. who studied under C.F.W. Walther and was a pastor in the Missouri Synod.
Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum--Altenburg, MO
A Man for the Ages (by Rev. Brian Saunders)
"The conditions of Germany at the time of Walther's birth in 1811 were chaotic. The Napoleonic Wars were drawing to a close, and Europe had been devastated by death, plague and financial hardship due to those wars. By 1813, Napoleon had been driven back to France, but the consequences of war had left Europe in ashes. It was amidst these ashes that Walther was brought into this world."
(by Carl S. Mundinger)
"In order to understand fully what kind of a churchman Dr. C. F. W. Walther was, we should have to discuss several episodes out of his life. However, the one we shall primarily consider is the Altenburg Debate."
(by the Rev. Carl Eissfeldt, October 1931)
"Now that I am on the home stretch of my pilgrimage on earth, my thoughts often revert to the past. In these memories of my childhood and youth are included many interesting reminiscences of my dear, unforgettable teacher and friend Prof. Dr. C. F. W. Walther .... Altogether different we felt towards another noted man, who also, especially as long as he was president, was a standing guest in the home of my parents. I refer to President Friedrich Wyneken ...."
"It is our duty to give an account to our fellow citizens about what our church believes and teaches and about the principles according to which we operate."
Wyneken as Missionary (by Robert E. Smith)
"If C.F.W. Walther was the mind of first-generation Missouri Synod Lutheranism, Friederich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken was its heart and soul."
(by Norman J. Threinen)
"Wyneken avidly read mission periodicals ... (which) alerted him to the great need for pastors in America to gather the scattered German immigrants into congregations. Moved by the desperate conditions depicted in these mission reports about scattered Germans in North America, Wyneken decided to volunteer his energies to being a missionary-pastor on the American frontier."
(video with Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.)
"As (Wyneken) moved through the woods, he would come across small groups, sometimes one settlement, one household, one hut of German immigrants who had carved out for themselves a small place to live. Upon finding these groups, he would ask, 'Are you German? If you're German, what's your background? Catholic? Lutheran? Reformed? Nothing?' ... He was repeatedly told by these folks that they hadn't heard a sermon in seven years, eight years, ten years, that their children had not been baptized. And when he asked why, they simply answered with the same response over and over. 'We have no pastors.'"
(by Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.)
"An economy in collapse due to market speculation; bank failure; record unemployment; the housing market in a downward spiral-these all too human realities can make ministry challenging, to say the least! But I'm not talking about 2010. The Panic of 1837 challenged the youthful United States in ways it had never before experienced .... This was the context into which Friedrich Wyneken stepped."
The Missionary Who Never Left Home
Wilhelm Loehe never left his native Germany, yet his untiring work for the Kingdom helped the young LCMS-and Lutheran churches around the world.
(by Rev. Prof. John T. Pless)
"One of the most grievous events in the history of the Lutheran Church in the 19th century was the fact that the two great churchmen Wilhelm Loehe and Ferdinand Walther went separate ways after the great theological leader of the Missouri Synod had in 1851 a most promising meeting with Loehe in Neuendettelsau."
An Introduction to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
"The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod traces its origin to 750 German immigrants who came to Missouri in 1839 seeking freedom from the religious and political pressures and constraints of nineteenth-century Germany. Under the leadership of young Pastor C. F. W. Walther, these Saxon immigrants joined with a number of other German pastors (sent to America by Wilhelm Loehe from Bavaria) to form 'The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States.'"
This is a copy of the original constitution in German script.
German Immigration to the U.S. in the 1800s
"A member of the Schuette family, who departed Germany for Manitowoc County in 1848, wrote: 'The neighbors and friends were on hand to say a last farewell and tears flowed in profusion (since) anyone leaving for America was considered about to pass into eternity.'" Sometimes bitterness toward those "deserting" the homeland split families apart, and on occasion the separation proved too much for those left behind. Jacob Eifler of Sheboygan recalled that his grandfather "passed away from grief and heartache" two years after members of his family set sail for the United States.
Other Ethnic Lutheran Immigrants (Dr. Lawrence R. Rast)
"Our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation was still called, even in the 1970s, the German church. In our midst were also Finnish churches, Danish churches, Norwegian churches, Swedish churches, a variety of different Lutheran congregations from a variety of ethnic backgrounds."
How did the LCMS Grow During the First 150 Years? (video with Dr. William Wallace Schumacher)
"I would like to point out two important periods of significant numerical growth in the Synod and say something about each of those and the distinctive features that contributed to the growth during each period."
This presentation by Rev. Mike Newman was made at the 2015 Lutheran Society for Missiology Banquet at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
(by Herman H. Koppelmann)
"The Missouri Synod became the first Lutheran church body in America to acknowledge mission work as a definite part of its program, rather than that of a society within the church."
Seminary Past (by Rev. Dr. Cameron A. MacKenzie)
"Along with Wilhelm Sihler, pastor of St. Paul's in Fort Wayne, Loehe decided to establish a truly Lutheran seminary on the American frontier. He recruited and then sent 11 students and a teacher. By the fall of 1846, they had safely arrived in Fort Wayne and classes had begun. This was the birth of Concordia Theological Seminary."
"One of the very founders of Synod, Pastor Brohm, is known to have preached in English to the English-speaking people in Perry County, Missouri, in Synod's earliest days. The question then arises as to how it came about that the Missouri Synod during the first fifty years of its existence engaged so predominantly in German work."
Our Missions in India and China
"Missionary interest was indeed in evidence in our Synod from the very beginning. At the very first meeting of Synod, in 1847, there was a good deal of discussion as to possible mission work among the heathen."
"The 'English Synod of Missouri' did not want amalgamation, but it did want to be part of the Missouri Synod because of its confessional and scriptural Lutheran stance."
"Legend has it that in 1795 a bill to establish German as the official language of the fledgling United States of America was defeated in Congress by a single vote."
"Over the years (German-Americans) had been viewed as a well-integrated and esteemed part of American society. All of this changed with the outbreak of war."
(video with Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.)
"In 1914 a war broke out in Europe, a war that beginning in 1917 would also involve the United States. World War I marked a turning point in the Missouri Synod's relationship to the surrounding American culture because in 1917, German became the language of the enemy. This was the language of the Kaiser, and suddenly, even though there were lots of German immigrants around, the language of German was viewed with great suspicion."
"One anecdote shared of 1918 was of four women playing bridge together late into the night. Overnight, three of the women died from influenza."
Lutheran Hour Ministries: Our History
"A group of 12 men attending a convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Milwaukee (1917) met to settle a $100,000 debt incurred by the church body. They accomplished that goal and in the process formed the Lutheran Laymen's League.
"Maier initiated an evangelism approach using the new medium of radio that gained ascendancy between the time of the Fundamentalist movement of the early twentieth century and the new movement that eventually became known as Evangelicalism."
Education (from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod webpage)
"The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod believes education should address the whole person-body, mind and spirit-beginning in early childhood and through higher education."
(by Ian Pacey from the December 10, 2014, The Lutheran Witness)
"If parents wait until seventh grade to hand young people over to pastors to begin teaching, they will have missed the most important years for Christian formation."
Walther League (by Barb Below in "Witness, Mercy, Life Together")
"The league has a notable place in the Synod's history. It began in the late nineteenth century and developed alongside America's history, flourishing as the LCMS adopted English into its vocabulary. It continued to grow through the World Wars, even establishing a headquarters in Chicago."
(by Scott J. Meyer in The Lutheran Clarion (Vol. 3:2, November 2010))
"In 1893, a call was issued for congregations of the Synodical Conference to send representatives to meet at Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo, NY, for the purpose of forming an international organization of Lutheran young people ... The culmination of fatal events occurred at the 1965 Delegate Convention of the LCMS in Detroit, Michigan, in which it was debated whether the Walther League should be permitted to have Pete Seeger, an admitted Communist, entertain LCMS youth at its national convention."
Religion: The New Lutheran (requires a subscription to Time Magazine to read entire article)
"Well," said Satan, "what's new with the Protestants?"
"You mean in America, don't you, sir?" answered the Demon for the Democracies, who was showing him around. "It's all pretty old stuff over in Europe."
"Of course I mean America," snapped Satan, tapping his hoof impatiently. "We've put a lot of work into the churches, and I'm not at all sure it's paying off the way it should. Who's Mr. Protestant these days?"
History of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League (by Marlys Taege Moberg)
"Beginning in the 1850s, women of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod started local auxiliaries to meet the needs of people; mending clothes for seminarians, equipping hospitals, establishing schools, developing convalescent and retirement homes, assisting orphanages and residences for people with disabilities, gathering clothing, furniture and food for indigents, and funding mission endeavors at home and abroad."
(by James Heine in the May 10, 2012, The Lutheran Witness)
"My vision is that our women will reach out to the women in the pew, that they'll reach out with the love of Christ, that they'll reach out in Bible study, in service events."
(video with Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.)
"... As time went by and the Missouri Synod Americanized, it simply could not any longer isolate itself from broader cultural and theological influences. And one of the main influences was a topic that was confronting all of American Lutheranism by the middle part of the 20th century. I'm simply speaking here of the question of the authority and character of Scripture."
Project Connect Sharing Ideas (from Lutheran Hour Ministries)
There are many people in your community who haven't crossed the doorstep of a church in years; in fact, some may have never been to church. Still, that doesn't mean they won't be receptive to the Gospel. Sharing God's Good News in Jesus doesn't need to be an awkward or anxiety-filled encounter ... Below, you will find suggestions on how and where to share Project Connect booklets in your community.
Growth of the Church in the Global South
Think Christianity is dying? No, Christianity is shifting dramatically (from The Washington Post)
While Christianity may be on the decline in the United States, the world is becoming more religious, not less. While rising numbers of "nones"--those who claim no religious affiliation when asked-claim the attention of religious pundits, the world tells a different story. Religious convictions are growing and shifting geographically in several dramatic ways.
Reasons for the Decline of the Church in Europe and America
Unworthy Servants (by LCMS President Matthew Harrison)
"The maddening fact is that the Missouri Synod has been in a slow numeric decline since about 1970 .... As Christianity continues to fade from our nation (even as it blossoms elsewhere in the world), the soil will become harder here. But it still remains that God works through means, and He is even now working through us, and the message on our lips, to bring to Himself the full number of the elect."
The World Is Changing
(by Rev. Timm Heath, Jr.)
"Yes, the world has changed around us--but it is still a world of dying hearts and broken spirits. It's still a world of violence, hatred and fear; a world of racism, addiction and despair. It's still a world of hopelessness. So it's still a world that desperately needs Jesus and His unchanging mercy, a world that desperately needs us--God's children and messengers and servants--to bring Jesus to the dying and broken and wounded."
Where Do We Go from Here?
Utterly Foreign (by Rev. Peter Berg)
"Numerically, American Lutheranism is in decline, which frustrates church executives and parish leaders.... But the truth is not supposed to be acceptable to those who do not believe, and we should not want it any other way."
The Priesthood of All Believers
Conferees 'Model' How Pastors, Laity Might Best Relate (by David Strand)
"One-hundred and fifty-one pastors and 72 commissioned and lay workers (29 of the latter being women) grappled with such questions as the following:
* How best do pastors (representing the office of the public ministry) and lay workers and leaders (representing the priesthood of all believers) work together in a congregational setting?
* What is the Synod's understanding of pastoral and lay roles in the congregation? Jesus, of course, is in charge, but who runs the show in human terms on an everyday basis?
* What's the role of the congregation in all this, and how do pastors and congregational members hold themselves and one another accountable in fulfilling their roles?
* How do pastors and congregations reconcile with each other when things go wrong?"
The Universal Priesthood of Believers with Luther's Comments
(by Lewis William Spitz, Jr.)
"The infallible source of information regarding the universal priesthood of believers is God's Word, whose treasures no one has been better able to bring to light than Luther. Scripture reveals that there has always been such a priesthood. From the very beginning of the human race the believers have performed priestly works. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob--all of them sacrificed and called upon the Name of the Lord."