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 Southern) 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
- Atlantic — covers the eastern half of New York state, i.e., New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Capital District.
- Central (no longer exists) - One of the original districts, it was divided into the Indiana District and the Ohio District
- Central Illinois
- Eastern — one of the original four districts of the LCMS, through the process of division now covers only western New York state and most of Pennsylvania
- English — a non-geographical district comprising the congregations of the former English Synod
- Indiana — the state of Indiana plus a portion of Kentucky.
- Iowa East
- Iowa West
- Mid-South — Arkansas, Tennessee, and southern Kentucky
- Minnesota North
- Minnesota South
- New England
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- North Wisconsin
- Northern Illinois
- Northwest — Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho
- Ohio — Ohio, West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky
- Pacific Southwest — southern California, Arizona, and southern Nevada
- Rocky Mountain — Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and El Paso County, Texas
- SELC — non-geographical district comprising the congregations of the former Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church
- South Dakota
- South Wisconsin
- Southeastern — covers South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and York and Adams Counties in Pennsylvania.
- Southern — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle
- Southern Illinois
- Texas — the state of Texas except for El Paso County
- Suelflow, August R. (1964). "IV The Missouri Synod Organized". In Meyer, Carl S. Moving Frontiers. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 148–149.