Martin Luther and the Reformation

If you are unfamiliar with the Lutheran church, this page is intended to provide a basic introduction. The namesake of Lutheran Christians is Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546), a German Bible professor. (The American Civil Rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was named in honor of Martin Luther.) Luther's writing and teaching sparked great change in both the church and society, a time in history known as the Reformation. Luther especially challenged the ways in which the medieval church presented salvation as something to be purchased or earned through good works. Luther's ministry contributed to the development of Protestant Christianity (churches protesting against such false teachings within the Roman Catholic church). 

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted a list of ninety-five theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (pictured above). Luther intended to promote an academic debate, but to his surprise, his ideas quickly spread, contributing to widespread protest against the Pope and Catholic practices such as the sale of indulgences (by which purchasers could supposedly lessen the punishment for their sins). Luther originally hoped to spark change within the Catholic church, but within his lifetime, Protestant churches (including Lutherans and various Reformed churches) distinguished themselves from Catholicism. 

A few more details about Lutherans are provided below.

Both "Evangelical" and "Catholic"

Lutherans can be described as both evangelical and catholic. Lutheran Christians were the first to be called "evangelicals." (Evangelical means "Gospel" or "Good News.") 
In many ways, the Gospel (the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone) was hidden and overlooked in medieval Christianity. Martin Luther and other Reformers helped to restore the Gospel to its rightful place at the heart of the Church's life and teaching.
At the same time, Lutherans can also be called catholic. This term means "universal." Lutherans have always understood themselves as members of the Church catholic, that is the Christian Church of all times and places. 
Like our fellow Christians around the world, Lutherans believe that the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired Word of God and the only standard for our faith and practice. Lutheran teachings reflect those of the historic Christian faith, which was summarized in such universal statements as the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds.

(A great website to explore about the Lutheran Reformation is

Christ-Centered Christianity

Above all else, Lutheran faith and Church practice is centered on Jesus Christ.
We believe that Jesus came into this world to save sinners, which includes every single one of us. As true God, Jesus lived a holy and sinless life in our place. As true man, Jesus also suffered and died for us, enduring God the Father's righteous wrath against our sin.
We also believe the testimony of the Scriptures that Jesus rose again to new life on the Sunday morning following His crucifixion. He appeared to His disciples over a period of 40 days and then ascended to His rightful place in heaven. According to His promise, we await His return on the Last Day when He will raise all people from their graves and judge the living and the dead.
Lutherans emphasize everything that Christ has done and continues to do for us as our Lord and Savior. Christianity is not centered on us, our efforts, or our performance. It centers on Christ, His cross, His resurrection, His coming return, and His free gifts of forgiveness, new life, and salvation for all who believe in Him.
In short, as Lutherans we proclaim the message of Christ crucified! (1 Corinthians 1:22)

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) originated with a group of Lutheran immigrants who left the German territory of Saxony and settled in southeast Missouri. They came to America to practice their faith without government pressure to merge with other church bodies or to change their teaching and practice, especially regarding Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

The Saxon Lutherans arrived in America in the late 1830s and soon began networking with other Lutherans throughout the midwest. In 1847, "The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States" was founded in Chicago, IL. Eventually the name was shortened to "The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod" (LCMS).

Today, the LCMS is composed of approximately 5,800 congregations, with around 1.8 million members. As a member congregation of the LCMS, St. Matthew continues to share the same Christ-centered, Gospel-focused, and Scripture-based message that was proclaimed in the time of the Saxon immigration in the 1800s, the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, and in the ancient Church.