We welcome you to explore this website of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Historical Society so that you may discover the rich history of God's mercy for us in Christ as it has been passed from one generation to the next.
Reciting some Hebrew poetry under an oak tree in western Wisconsin in 1844 may not seem like an especially momentous event. But what if the poetry came from the 78th Psalm? And what if the sermon that followed was the first one ever preached by a Norwegian Lutheran pastor on American soil? And what if the theological descendants of the farmers who listened to that sermon treasure the same heritage still today, over 160 years later?
The text was "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19) The answer, as history has demonstrated time and again, was "Yes." From the days of prairie settlements in the 1800s, to the early twenty-first century, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod has received God's blessings and shared the good news of salvation in Christ with others.
"We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done." (Psalm 78:4)
It has been said that when it comes to having an interest in the study of history there are really only two kinds of people:
- those who are interested in history; and,
- those who will be interested in history.
The same may be said of church history.
The faith we confess, the congregation in which we worship, the church body with which we affiliate, the hymns we sing, the prayers in which we join, the mission work we sponsor, the educational institutions we support, the larger religious setting in which we live—all these aspects of our church share common threads with the people, the events, the trends, and the movements which have gone before us. Moreover, we seek to cultivate the best from among our heritage in order to leave a worthwhile legacy for our children.
From the "Oaks of Koshkonong" in 1844, to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod today, there is so much to tell the next generation—whether in the pews of our congregations, in the classrooms of Bethany Lutheran College, or in mission fields in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Ours is a theological heritage centered on the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD.