Connections Hour: 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service: 10:30 a.m.

The 0rganization of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren goes back to the turn of the century when five independent Lutheran congregations met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in December of 1900 to form a new synod. Their purpose was not divisive since they were not splitting from any denomination. Feeling the need to join together for projects larger than one congregation could handle, they organized a new church body.

It might be asked why these congregations did not join synods already established. It is the answer to this question that supplies the reason for the existence of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.

During the last decade of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, there was a widespread spiritual awakening in the upper Midwest. This awakening was characterized by a deep conviction of sin and a faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Scores of people entered the kingdom of God, many of them members of Lutheran churches, the predominant religious faith of the region. Some were new immigrants seeking to find meaning for their lives and finding it through salvation in Jesus Christ.

These new converts began to live their lives with great purpose. For them church life took on new meaning. They were no longer content only with Sunday worship services, which in many rural communities were held once or twice a month. Sunday school was rarely planned with adults or new believer in mind. It was considered only for children.

The new converts began to meet for Bible studies and prayer as if drawn together by a magnet. They often met with resistance from the established churches and clergy, but this didn't stop them. When the church resisted, they met in homes because they hungered for the Word of God and the fellowship of believers. Several pastors joined these believers.

As scattered groups of believers began studying the Scriptures, many began to ask questions about how they should live their lives as Christians. Guidance was sought from the Bible. Patterns began to emerge. These new converts began to see that God's will for the believer was to live a godly life, patterned after the principles of Scripture. The Christian life was not only teachings to confess but a life to be lived for God in holiness.

Their study further led them to questions about the church. They observed that many went to Holy Communion but didn't live the Christian life each day. Many trusted in their baptism and confirmation with no seeming evidence of daily spiritual life. Many in church leadership were often the most resistant to Bible study, prayer, and the idea of conversion.

They were led to ask what the Scriptures had to say about the nature of the church. They sought answers and found them in the Bible. Their search led them to the conclusion that the local congregation was meant to be a body of believers in which the Word of God was rightly taught and the sacraments administered in accordance with Christ's command. Membership in this body was to consist only of those who by confession and daily life testified to the saving power of God.

They further concluded that since the worship of the New Testament churches was simple in form, services should be conducted in an orderly manner with the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures holding a central place in the congregation's worship.

They also felt that the local body of believers should be given to regular seasons of prayer and the study of Scripture. Gospel preaching and personal witness, too, should be stressed so that people could come under the hearing of the Word of God, be convicted of sin, and brought to assurance of faith in Jesus Christ. This was not to minimize the effective working of the sacraments. However, the mere ceremonial use of baptism and the Lord's Supper was not to be a "pillow" upon which to rest for assurance of salvation.

- David Rinden