John William Behnken

Sixth President of the Missouri Synod: 1935-1962

President Behnken
Born: 19 March 1884, Cypress, Texas

Died: 23 February 1968, Hollywood, Florida

After graduating from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, John Behnken was ordained by Rev. Gotthilf Birkmann at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fedor, Texas, on 12 August 1906. He was awarded an honory Doctor of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1934, and in 1953 he received an LL.D. from Valparaiso University.

He first served as a missionary-at-large in Houston. Two years later, he accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston.

In 1909, he married Gertrude Geisler (1890-1910). He married Hilda Grassmuck (1890-1954) in 1914.

Behnken served the Texas District first as the chair of the Church Extension Board, then as second vice-president (1920-1926), and finally as president (1926-1929). He served the Synod as second vice-president (1929-1932), as first vice-president (1932-1935), and as president (1935-1962). At the end of his presidency, he was named honorary president.

Behnken is the author of God Is Our Refuge and Strength (1942), Know Your Synod’s Work (1961), Mercies Manifold: Radio Messages Broadcast During the Summer of 1949 (1950), Noonday Sermons (1925), and This I Recall (1964).

For more information on John Behnken see his autobiography, This I Recall (St. Louis: CPH, 1964).

For a more extensive biography, especially in areas concerning his presidency, or for information on CHI’s holdings, see the finding aids for:

LCMS, Office of the President Records, John W. Behnken Administration, 1935-1962; and
John W. Behnken (1884-1968) Family Collection, c.1875-1973

Behnken is buried in Concordia Cemetery, St. Louis, MO, along with his second wife, Hilda Anna Grassmuck Behnken.

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