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The LCMS was organized in 1847 at a meeting in Chicago, Illinois, as the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (German: ), a name which reflected the geographic locations of the founding congregations. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council and is in altar and pulpit fellowship with most of that group's members. In Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, isolated Germans in the dense forests of the American frontier were brought together and ministered to by missionary F. In the neighboring Kingdom of Prussia, the Prussian Union of 1817 put in place what they considered non-Lutheran communion and baptismal doctrine and practice. During this period, there was considerable debate within the settlement over the proper status of the church in the New World: whether it was a new church or whether it remained within the Lutheran hierarchy in Germany.
The LCMS is headquartered in Kirkwood, Missouri, and is divided into 35 districts—33 of which are geographic and two (the English and the SELC) non-geographic. In order to freely practice their Christian faith in accordance with the Lutheran confessions outlined in the Book of Concord, Stephan and between 600 and 700 other Saxon Lutherans left for the United States in November 1838. Walther's view that they could consider themselves a new church prevailed.
Löhe also led an early and largely abortive effort to send missionaries to convert the Native Americans.
In 18, he solicited colonists to form a German Lutheran settlement in Michigan, with the thought that this settlement would also serve as the base for missionary activity among the Native Americans.
Within a few years, this conflict led to a separation between the Missouri Synod and Löhe, as Löhe's views were close to those of Grabau.The immigrants ultimately settled in Perry County, Missouri, and in and around St. Stephan was initially the bishop of the new settlement, but he soon became embroiled in charges of corruption and sexual misconduct with members of the congregation and was expelled from the settlement, leaving C. Beginning in 1841, the parish pastor in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria—Wilhelm Löhe—inspired by appeals for aid to the German immigrants in North America, began to solicit funds for missionary work among them.He also began training men to become pastors and teachers, sending his first two students—Adam Ernst and Georg Burger—to America on August 5, 1842.The synod's constitution required all members (both pastors and congregations) to pledge fealty to the entire Book of Concord, to reject unionism and syncretism of every kind, to use only doctrinally pure books in both church and school, and to provide for the Christian education of their children.