To learn more about this collection please see the finding aid link found above, and/or visit the College and Lutheran Church Archives to use these primary sources.
United Lutheran Church in America, English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest. Records of the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest, 1890-1963. LCA Collection 11. 16 Records Center Cartons and 4 1/2 Hollinger boxes.
The Northwest Synod collection contains correspondence, reports, committee information, educational materials, publications, and information about various organizations in the Synod. A large portion of the collection consists of correspondence between the Northwest Synod and its various congregations. The bulk of the collection consists of materials from when R.H. Gerberding and Paul E. Bishop were Synod presidents.
The English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest, more commonly known as the Northwest Synod, formed during September 1891 as an English speaking organization. It covered the area from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Seattle, Washington. The Synod had three conferences: the Central Conference, the Western Conference, and the Wisconsin Conference. The Synod ended subsequent to their 1962 Merger. At this point, the Northwest Synod consolidated with the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to form the Lutheran Church of America.
The English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest (Northwest Synod) formed on 23 September 1891 at Memorial Church, St. Paul, Minnesota. The newly organized body was a synod within the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. Up until this time, most congregations within the General Council were located in the eastern United States and had German backgrounds. A number of early leaders within the fledgling Northwest Synod had been linked with the Swedish Augustana Synod. The shift for many individuals and congregations from a Swedish to an English tradition was not overly contentious.
In an effort to foster greater Lutheran unity, the General Council merged with two other Lutheran bodies, the General Synod and the United Synod of the South, to form the United Lutheran Church in 1918. The Northwest Synod remained relatively unchanged following this merger. Very few congregations from the other church bodies were within the Northwest Synod’s geographic region. The physical territory for the synod was expansive, covering the area from Milwaukee to Seattle, but there were relatively few Lutherans living between Minnesota and Washington.
The Northwest Synod was divided into three conferences. These included the Central Conference, the Western Conference, and the Wisconsin Conference.
Shortly after the formation of the United Lutheran Church, the Northwest Synod established the Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary. The school was founded in Chicago but actions were taken to have the seminary moved to Fargo, North Dakota. Then, the Seminary was relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The United Lutheran Church in America merged along with the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to form the Lutheran Church in America during 1963. It was at this point that the Synod of the Northwest was dissolved with congregations merged into a handful of new synods. The seminary’s end came when the body merged with Luther Theological Seminary to form Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, known since July 1994 as Luther Seminary.
NORTHWEST SYNOD PRESIDENTS
Presidents from 1891 to 1920 retained their duties as active pastors while serving as part-time presidents.
|William K. Frick||1894-1901|
|George H. Trabert||1901-1903|
|G. Keller Rubrecht||1917-1927|
|Paul E. Bishop||1949-1959|
|George L. Lundquist||1959-1962|
Explanation of the word Synod
The following definition is from The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church.
“Lutherans in America have used the term ‘synod’ as designating (1) an entire body of territorially or linguistically or theologically united congregations (e.g., Indiana Synod . . . ) and (2) as designating a body of clerical and lay delegates representing all the congregations within a synod (sense 1) or a district of it.”
* Information obtained from the following sources.
Flesner, Dorris A., ed. 70th Anniversary Review: The English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest 1891-1961. n.p. 1960.
English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest, 1891-1916: Historical and Reminiscent Sketches. n.p. 1916(?).
“History of Luther Seminary.” Luther Seminary. http://www.luthersem.edu/about/history.aspx?m=3381 (accessed on 18 February 2010)
The Records of the English Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the Northwest Collection has nine series:
Administration, 1906-63 and undated includes official documents pertaining to the Northwest Synod. Included are financial materials, constitutions, and correspondence.
Anniversaries and Conventions, 1917-62 contains programs, correspondence, and planning materials for Synod anniversary celebrations and conventions.
Boards/Committees, 1905-62 and undated consists of meeting materials, publications, and reports for various boards and committees in the Synod. Included are various mission committees, the Executive Committee, and the Stewardship Committee.
Executive Committee, 1918-62, holds meeting minutes and materials from the Executive Committee of the Synod.
Mission Committees, 1905-62, is composed of of meeting materials, publications, and general information for the various mission committees in the Synod. Included are foreign missions, missions to Native Americans, and social missions.
American Mission Committee, 1926-57, includes publications, correspondence, and general information for mission committees whose primary work was in the United States.
Home Missions Committees, 1905-58 and undated, consists of meeting minutes, correspondence, and reports for mission committees whose primary work was in individual households.
Joint Commission on Lutheran Unity, 1959-62, includes correspondence and general information for a joint-committee between the Northwest Synod and other Lutheran Synods.
Stewardship Committee, 1929-62 and undated, comprises of correspondence, meeting materials, and newsletters for the Stewardship Committee of the Synod.
Congregations, 1917-54 and undated consists of dedication materials, financial reports, and lists of sacraments at various congregations in the Synod.
Correspondence, 1927-58 includes various correspondence between members of the Synod.
Correspondence with Congregations, 1888-1962 and undated, includes correspondence between the Northwest Synod and its various individual congregations. There are nine geographic regions:
North Dakota, 1888-1957
South Dakota, 1922-50
Wisconsin, 1901-61 and undated
Education, 1913-62 and undated contains materials related to education policies and procedures in the Synod.
Lutheran Education Advance Fund (LEAF), 1913, 1955-62 and undated is composed of publications, correspondence, committee information, reports, and general information for this initiative to raise money for Lutheran education.
Secondary Education, 1920-58 and undated holds reports, propaganda, and publications relating to Carthage College and Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Student Organizations, 1941-62 and undated involves correspondence, reports, and publications for various organizations run by Lutheran students in the Northwest Synod, including the Lutheran Student Association and Lutheran Student Foundation.
Summer Education, 1930-62 and undated consists of correspondence, meeting information, general information, promotional materials, and photographs for various summer education programs in the Synod, including summer camps run by each of the three conferences. Some of the photographs are identified
Organizations, 1898-1962 and undated holds information regarding various groups in the Synod. Included are the Luther League, Lutheran Brotherhood, and Lutheran World Action, and Stewardship Sector Program.
Facilities, 1921-62 and undated has correspondence, promotional materials, and reports for various Synod operated facilities. The majority of this series pertains to care for the elderly.
Luther League, 1898-1962 and undated, holds correspondence and publications for the Luther League at the Synod level.
Minnesota Luther League, 1898-1962 and undated, contains reports, newsletters, and general materials for the Minnesota branch of the Luther League.
Lutheran Welfare Society, 1928-62 and undated is composed of correspondence, meeting minutes and reports for the Lutheran Welfare Society.
Lutheran Welfare Society of Minnesota, 1934-61 and undated holds budgets, correspondence, and meeting materials for the Minnesota body of the Lutheran Welfare Society.
Lutheran Welfare Society of Wisconsin, 1933-62 and undated consists of correspondence, programs, and reports for the Wisconsin body of the Lutheran Welfare Society.
Women’s Missionary Society, 1936-55 and undated contains correspondence, publications, reports, and rosters for the Women’s Missionary Society.
Miscellaneous, 1913-62 and undated includes various publications and planning materials for the Synod.