Pieces of Our Past
July 19, 2013
Artifact: Sketch of Cleveland, Ohio
Significance: With the LCMS’s 65th convention beginning this weekend, a look at past conventions, or rather the first meetings that led up to the formation of the Synod, seems appropriate. While this sketch of Cleveland may not at first glance seem connected to the LCMS, it was sketched by Friedrich Lochner when he was in Cleveland at the first of three preliminary meetings that brought about the establishment of the Missouri Synod. This artwork is an interesting view of the harbor city. Rolling hills and open land are seen in the foreground, with the many buildings that made up the city proper sitting along the shore of Lake Erie, which is seen in the background.
History of the Preliminary Meetings: There were three meetings that led to the formation of the Synod in 1847. The first meeting was held in Cleveland on September 18, 1845. Several of Wilhelm Loehe missionary Sendlinge, including Friedrich Lochner, who were a part of the Ohio Synod at the time, met with F. C. D. Wyneken about the problems they saw with the Ohio Synod, especially the lack of confessional theology. The Loehe men decided to leave that synod and to contact the Saxons in Missouri about joining together to form a new Lutheran church body. Wyneken and the Loehe men were aware of the Saxons and their strong confessional stance because of C. F. W. Walther’s publication Der Lutheraner. Loehe had also encouraged his men to work with the Saxons.
The second meeting was held in Saint Louis in May 1846, and Lochner was once again present as a representative of the Loehe pastors. The main accomplishment of this second meeting was working out the basic framework for a constitution. According to Lochner, it took a whole week to frame the constitution, and several meetings even included discussions with the Saint Louis congregation. During this visit, Lochner used the building of the Saint Louis congregation (Trinity) and also the J. F. Buenger home, where Walther lived and where many of the meetings were held, as subjects for his drawings. See the image of the church on the right.
The third and final preliminary meeting was held on July 2-8, 1846, at Saint Paul Church in Fort Wayne. This meeting was much larger, including Loehe missionaries, the Franconians of Michigan, the Saxons and others – sixteen pastors and five candidates in all. A constitution was approved and then submitted to congregations and published in a September issue of Der Lutheraner. This then led to the founding convention of the Synod held April 25-May 6, 1847, at Saint Paul Church in Chicago. Twelve pastors (fourteen congregations) joined as voting members at the first convention.
Through the years the three cities where these preliminary meetings were held – Cleveland, Saint Louis and Fort Wayne – have hosted additional synodical conventions. Saint Louis tops the list of convention cities with this year’s convention being the 21st time the city has hosted. Fort Wayne follows with 13; Milwaukee with 7; Chicago with 4; Cleveland, Detroit and Houston with 3 each; and eleven other cities across the country that have hosted the Synod convention once.
For all the convention delegates and visitors in Saint Louis this next week, God’s blessings on your work at the convention and enjoy your time in our fair city!