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 served predominantly ethnically German congregants. 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.