Southern District History
A BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT
Our roots go deep into The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The LCMS was formed in 1847. In 1855 it was divided into four districts: Eastern, Central, Western, and Northern.
In the first 34 years the following districts were ‘spun off’ of the original four:
1863 – Indiana (from Central)
1874 – Northwestern (from Northern)
1875 – Illinois (from Western)
1879 – Iowa (from Western)
1979 – Ontario (from Northern)
In the 35th year, 1882, four more new Districts were formed: Michigan (from Northern), Minnesota-Dakota (from Northwestern), Nebraska (from Western) and SOUTHERN (from Western).
OUR GENESIS AS A DISTRICT
BIRTHDATE: February 8, 1882
BIRTHPLACE: Zion, New Orleans, LA
BIRTH SIZE: 13 congregations (4 in LA, 9 in TX)
GEOGRAPHY: States of TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, and FL
THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT GAVE BIRTH TO TWO OTHER DISTRICTS
In 1906 the Texas District was formed, taking 62 of the 90 congregations. In 1948 the Florida-Georgia District was formed, taking all but 62 congregations and preaching stations. (The district held onto the one congregation in Atlanta, and the one in the Florida Panhandle.)
AN HISTORIC MERGER
Recall the formation date of the Southern District – 1882. There were four New Orleans congregations in that original district. Two Lutheran congregations not included were Mt. Zion and St. Paul. They were the original congregations of the Synodical Conference Mission Program. Mt. Zion was formed in 1878 and St. Paul in 1879. It was in 1963 that the total of 54 Black congregations of the Synodical Conference Mission Program in our geographical area were merged into the Southern District of the LCMS. The 33 congregations in the Central Alabama area were consolidated into 10 congregations a short while later. Click here to learn more about Dr. Rosa Young.
HISTORIC SUPPORT FROM SYNOD
From 1950 through 1992 the LCMS undergirded the mission and ministry of the Southern District. (Other ‘saltwater districts’ received financial assistance to a esser amount for a shorter time.) During that period over $21 million of Synodical aid was generously given to our district, enabling a rapid expansion of mission starts, and the assimilation of the Synodical Conference Mission Program.
INFORMATION ON OUR CURRENT DISTRICT
The Southern District geography is large, perhaps the 5th-7th largest of the 35 LCMS Districts. It is approximately 800 miles from Northeast to Southwest, and approximately 450 miles from North to South. It includes 175 Congregations (68 – Alabama, 21 – Florida, 61 – Louisiana, 21 – Mississippi, ). It also includes 26 Schools (8 – Alabama, 5 – Florida, 11 – Louisiana, 2 – Mississippi, ).
Approximately 25 of our congregations are “historically” black congregations. This number is one of the real blessings given to the Southern District. Our District geography contains Concordia College, Selma, begun by the Synodical Conference Mission Program in 1922 under the leadership of the sainted Dr. Rosa Young. The congregations in black ministry in this area have produced the majority of the black pastors and teachers for the LCMS. Many of our historic white congregations now have African-American members. We have one historic Hispanic congregation.
2007 marked the SOUTHERN DISTRICT’S 125th ANNIVERSARY and the 160th ANNIVERSARY of the LCMS!