Districts of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) is organized into 35 districts, 33 of which are defined along geographic lines. Each district has a president who oversees the congregations in his district, which are further subdivided into local circuits. The position of president is roughly analogous to the role of bishop in many church bodies, but LCMS doctrine supports a generally congregationalist polity as opposed to an exclusively hierarchical governance.
Districts choose their own district presidents at their triennial conventions from among the pastors in the district. In some districts the district president occupies a full-time position, while in others he continues to serve as pastor in a congregation.
The 35 district presidents plus the synod president form the Council of Presidents (COP), which places graduates from the two LCMS seminaries as pastors in congregations which have requested such a candidate. If a congregation desires an experienced pastor to fill a vacancy, the district president may suggest a list of possible candidates (gleaned from interactions with the COP as well as other sources), but the district president does not assign pastors in this case; the congregation extends a "call" directly to the pastor.
From the time of its founding in 1847 until 1854, the LCMS held annual synod-wide conventions. However, given the growth in number of congregations and the large geographic area covered by the synod (Iowa to western New York and Minnesota to Louisiana), a new constitution was adopted in the latter year splitting the synod into four geographical districts (Eastern, Western, Northern, and Central) that would take over some of the responsibilities of the general synod. The original districts were further divided over the years to create the current 33 geographical districts.
List of districts
The following is a chronological list of former and current districts of the LCMS. Former district names are in italics.
|District Name||Year Created||Parent District||Additional Information|
|Central||1854||Original district||Initially contained congregations in Indiana and Ohio. The district was divided into the Indiana and Ohio districts in 1962/1963.|
|Eastern||1854||Original district||Initially contained congregations in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington D. C. Later the province of Ontario was added, but was then transferred to the Northern district in 1874. In 1906 the Atlantic district was split off. It now now covers only western New York state and most of Pennsylvania.|
|Northern||1854||Original district||Initially contained congregations in Michigan and Wisconsin. The Northwestern district was split off in 1874/1875, at which time the province of Ontario was moved from the Eastern district to the redefined Northern district. The Canadian district was split off in 1878/1879. The district was renamed the Michigan district in 1881.|
|Western||1854||Original district||Initially contained congregations in Missouri, Illinois, and Louisiana, with other states added later as congregations were established. The Illinois district separated in 1874, Iowa district in 1878/1879, Nebraska and Southern districts in 1881/1882, and the Kansas district and the California and Oregon district in 1887. The district was divided into the Missouri and Mid-South districts in 1965/1966.|
|Illinois||1874||Western||Divided into the Northern Illinois, Central Illinois, and Southern Illinois districts in 1907/1908.|
|Northwestern||1874/1875||Northern||Initially contained congregations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Split into the Wisconsin district and the Minnesota and Dakota district in 1881/1882.|
|Canada||1878/1879||Northern||Renamed the Ontario district in 1923.|
|Iowa||1878/1879||Western||Divided into the Eastern Iowa and Western Iowa districts in 1936.|
|Michigan||1881||Northern||Renamed from the Northern district. It excludes the western half of the Upper Peninsula.|
|Minnesota and Dakota||1881/1882||Northwestern||The South Dakota district was split out in 1905/1906, and the North Dakota and Montana district in 1910. The district was renamed the Minnesota district in 1912, and the Alberta and British Columnbia and the Manitoba and Saskatchewan districts were split off in 1920. The district was divided into the Minnesota North and Minnesota South districts in 1962/1963.|
|Nebraska||1881/1882||Western||The district was divided into the Northern Nebraska and Southern Nebraska districts in 1922, but those districts merged in 1970 to reform the Nebraska district.|
|Southern||1881/1882||Western||Initially contained congregations in Texas, Louisiana, and adjoining states. The Texas district was split out in 1905/1906, and the Florida-Georgia district in 1947/1948. It now consists of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.|
|Wisconsin||1881/1882||Northwestern||The district was divided into the North Wisconsin and South Wisconsin districts in 1916.|
|Kansas||1887||Western||Initially contained congregations in Kansas and Colorado. The Colorado district was split off in 1920/1921, leaving the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. The Oklahoma district was split off in 1923/1924|
|California and Oregon||1887||Western||The district divided into the California and Nevada and the Oregon and Washington districts in 1899.|
|California and Nevada||1899||California and Oregon||The Southern California district was split from the district in 1929/1930. District was renamed to California-Nevada-Hawaii district in 1977.|
|Oregon and Washington||1899||California and Oregon||The district was renamed the Northwest district in 1948.|
|Brazil||1904||Initially contained congregations in the country of Brazil. Congregations in Argentina were added in 1905. The Argentina district was split off in 1926/1927. The Brazil district became the independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil) on January 1, 1980.|
|South Dakota||1905/1906||Minnesota and Dakota|
|Texas||1905/1906||Southern||The state of Texas except for El Paso county.|
|Atlantic||1906||Eastern||Initially included the part of the state of New York east of a boundary running between Rome and Utica, along with all of New England and New Jersey. The latter were split off into the New England and New Jersey districts, respectively, in 1971/1972, leaving the eastern half of New York state, i.e., New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Capital District.|
|North Dakota and Montana||1910||Minnesota and Dakota||The district was divided into the North Dakota and the Montana districts in 1944/1945.|
|English||1911||English Synod||Originally the district contained the congregations of the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri and Other States, which merged into the LCMS in 1911.|
|Colorado||1920/1921||Kansas||Initially included congregations in the states of Colorado and Utah. Congregations in Page, Arizona, Venango, Nebraska, and El Paso County, Texas were added later. New Mexico congregations of the Texas and other districts were added in 1941/1942. Renamed to the Rocky Mountain district in 1983.|
|Alberta and British Columbia||1920||Minnesota||The district was one of three that separated from the LCMS in 1988 to form the Lutheran Church-Canada.|
|Manitoba and Saskatchewan||1920||Minnesota||The district was one of three that separated from the LCMS in 1988 to form the Lutheran Church-Canada.|
|Northern Nebraska||1922||Nebraska||The Wyoming district was split off and the Northern Nebraska district merged with the Southern Nebraska district in 1970 to form a new Nebraska district.|
|Southern Nebraska||1922||Nebraska||The district merged with the Northern Nebraska district in 1970 to form a new Nebraska district.|
|Ontario||1923||Canada||Renamed. The district was one of three that separated from the LCMS in 1988 to form the Lutheran Church-Canada.|
|Argentina||1926/1927||Brazil||The Argentina district became the independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Argentina) on August 1, 1986.|
|Southern California||1929/1930||California and Nevada||Renamed to the Pacific Southwest district in 1989.|
|Southeastern||1938/1939||Eastern, English||Initially included congregations in the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C., part of Georgia, and York and Adams counties in Pennsylvania.|
|Montana||1944/1945||North Dakota and Montana||Besides the state of Montana, includes one congregation each from Idaho and North Dakota.|
|North Dakota||1944/1945||North Dakota and Montana||Consists of the state of North Dakota (except for one congregation} and one congregation in South Dakota.|
|Florida-Georgia||1947/1948||Southern||Consists of the states of Florida and Georgia except for the Florida Panhandle.|
|Northwest||1948||Oregon and Washington||Renamed. Consists of Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.|
|Indiana||1962/1963||Central||Includes Indiana and part of the state of Kentucky.|
|Ohio||1962/1963||Central||Includes parts of the states of Kentucky and West Virginia.|
|Mid-South||1965/1966||Western||Includes the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, and part of Kentucky.|
|Wyoming||1970||Northern Nebraska||Includes the state of Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle, as well as one congregation in Colorado.|
|SELC||1971||Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches||Originally the district contained the congregations of the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, which merged into the LCMS in 1971.|
|California-Nevada-Hawaii||1977||California and Nevada||Renamed. Consists of the states of California (except for the southernmost 8 counties), Nevada (except for Clark County, and Hawaii.|
|Rocky Mountain||1983||Colorado||Renamed. Includes the states of Colorado (except for one congregation in the Wyoming district), Utah, and New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas.|
|Pacific Southwest||1989||Southern California||Renamed. Includes the southernmost 8 counties of California, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada.|
- Lueker, Erwin L.; Poellot, Luther; Jackson, Paul, eds. (2000). Christian Cyclopedia (Online ed.). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
- LCMS Research Services (March 25, 2013). "Forty Years of LCMS District Statistics" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2017.
- Suelflow, August R. (1964). "IV The Missouri Synod Organized". In Meyer, Carl S. (ed.). Moving Frontiers. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 148–149.