History Of The Lutheran Church


The bringing of the Reformation is recorded as 31 October 1517, when Dr. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the front door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.

Luther Rose

This challenge to the established church set in motion a chain reaction of events in Western Christendom. Following Luther’s lead, other reformers continued to write defenses and position papers on the change. The Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles' Creeds, some of these writings were gathered in the Book of Concord in 1580. These statements of belief became what are known as the Lutheran Confessions.

Although the reformation officially began in 1517, it had been fueled by earlier unsuccessful reform attempts in the church in Rome. For the Lutheran Church, it started taking form when the Augsburg Confession was presented on 25 June 1530. By this time it was abundantly clear that reconciliation with the church in Rome was totally out of the picture.

The Lutheran Reformation eventually spread to Scandinavia, Switzerland and France and then to the US. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787) is credited in our history as the "Father" of American Lutheranism. Pastor Muhlenberg arrived in Pennsylvania from Germany in 1742 and served as pastor for a number of small Lutheran congregations.

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Lutheranism in America

One of the churches Muhlenberg pastured was the Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, PA which is the oldest unaltered Lutheran church building in the U.S. still standing. Muhlenberg led to several other Lutheran pastors to form the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.

Sometime around the early 1800’s, Lutheranism swelled to thousands coming in the US every year. The United Lutheran Church in America was formed in Pennsylvania around the same time. This first synod later became the Lutheran Church in America or LCA.

The LCA later merged with the American Lutheran Church being joined by several other small parishes and formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. It is the largest body in the United States to claim the name Lutheran although any similarity between that “church” and what Luther taught is purely coincidental.