Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther

First President of the Missouri Synod: 1847–1850 & 1864–1878

C.F.W. Walther
Born: 25 October 1811, Langenchursdorf, Saxony, Germany
Died: 7 May 1887, Saint Louis, Missouri

C. F. W. Walther was educated at the University of Leipzig, after which he tutored for the Loeber family in Cahla from 1833 to 1837. He was ordained on 15 January 1837 and briefly accepted a parish in Bräunsdorf, before sailing to America in November 1838 with the Saxon Immigration. In 1878 he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

On 21 September 1841 he married Emilie Bünger (1812-1885), also one of the original Saxon immigrants.

For forty-six years Walther was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Saint Louis. He also taught at and was president of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, from 1850 until his death. He served as the president of the Synod from its founding in 1847 to 1850. In 1864 he was again elected president and served until 1878.

He began as the editor of Der Lutheraner in 1844 and of Lehre und Wehre in 1855. He worked on both of these publications until his death. Walther authored several books, including Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt (1852), Die rechte Gestalt einer vom Staate unabhängigen ev.-luth. Ortsgemeinde (1863), Die ev.-luth. Kirche die wahre sichtbare Kirche Gottes auf Erden (1867), Amerikanisch-Lutherische Pastoraltheologie (1872), Brosamen (1876), and Der Gnadenwahlslehrstreit (1881). After his death, his lectures on Die rechte Unterscheidung von Gesetz und Evangelium were published (1897).

Many of his writings have been translated into English, some of which are still in print:

Church and Ministry, trans. J.T. Mueller. St. Louis: CPH, 1987.
The Congregation’s Right to Choose Its Pastor, trans. Fred Kramer, ed. Wilbert H. Rosin. Texts Series No. 1. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary Publications, 1997.
The Correspondence of C.F.W. Walther, trans. Roy A. Suelflow. St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1980.
Essays for the Church. 2 vols. St. Louis: CPH, 1992.
The Proper Distinction between the Law and the Gospel: 39 evening lectures, trans. W.H.T. Dau. St. Louis: CPH, 1929.
Select Sermons of Walther, trans. E. Myers. Hill City, Minn.: Hope Press, [1966?].
Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther, ed. Aug. R. Suelflow. 6 vols. St. Louis: CPH, 1981.
Walther and the Church, ed. Wm. Dallmann, W.H.T. Dau, and Th. Engelder. St. Louis: CPH, 1938.
Walther Speaks to the Church: Selected Letters, ed. Carl S. Meyer. St. Louis: CPH, 1973.
Walther’s Pastorale: American Lutheran Pastoral Theology, trans. John M. Drickamer. New Haven, Mo.: Lutheran News, Inc., 1995.
For more information about C.F.W. Walther, see:

• Arthur H. Drevlow, John M. Drickamer, Glenn E. Reichwald, eds. C.F.W. Walther: The American Luther. Mankato, Minn.: Walther Press, 1987.
• W.G. Polack. The Story of C.F.W. Walther. St. Louis: CPH, 1935.
• Lewis William Spitz Sr. The Life of Dr. C.F.W. Walther. St. Louis: CPH, 1961.
• D.H. Steffens. Doctor Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1917.
For a more extensive biography, especially in areas concerning his role in the early years of the Missouri Synod, or for information on CHI’s holdings, see the finding aid for:

C. F. W. (Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm) Walther (1811-1887) Papers, c.1828-1887

Walther is buried in Concordia Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. A mausoleum was constructed to contain the graves of Walther and his wife, Emilie.

See also the Walther page on the Project Wittenberg Web site.


Back to the Presidents Page
Copyright © 1997-2016 Concordia Historical Institute

Print Friendly, PDF & Email