My guess is that as your family gathers around your Thanksgiving table this month, you won’t be including a prayer of thanks for the Minnesota South District.
After all, we are what is unceremoniously called a “middle judicatory,” operating quite invisibly between the national church body and the congregation. Few people, if any, when asked, “Who are you?” respond with, “I am a member of the Minnesota South District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
That said, 250 churches call this corner of the kingdom home. And we have been here now for 50 years. That’s right. It’s our 50th anniversary as a district. In the 1950s, the Minnesota District was the largest district in the LCMS. In 1961, the Minnesota District convention petitioned the Synod to authorize a division of the district.
In 1962, the Synod convention in Cleveland approved the plan. Then on Jan. 14, 1963 (a cold winter’s day with a temperature of -30 degrees), the Minnesota District adopted a resolution putting the plan into effect. There were 574 pastors, teachers and lay folks serving as delegates. The Minnesota North and South districts were born. At that time, the North District had 133 voting congregations; the South District had 211.
Fifty years later, our district still does what districts have always done. We work behind the scenes to plant and support new congregations and schools in order to reach new believers. We visit churches to support and encourage our workers and congregants.
We supervise their doctrine and practice with the Scriptures as our standard and the Lutheran Confessions as a true exposition of the Scriptures. We help churches call pastors and commissioned workers. We provide training and resources for those who lead the mission of Jesus Christ. We speak with one voice when it is time to say, “Here we stand!”
On the other hand, in 1963, few if any could have foreseen that our mission in the southern third of Minnesota would include congregations with Hispanic, Hmong, Laotian, Sudanese, Liberian, Ethiopian, Oromo and former Muslim and Hindu brothers and sisters in Christ.
In these 50 years, God has brought the nations to Minnesota and has blessed us to bring them the Gospel in their own language and culture. To use one of Jesus’ favorite metaphors, tiny seeds have yielded a rich harvest. God has blessed us.
Though you may not think of the Minnesota South District very often, you are one of us and we do have great cause for gratitude, we 125,000 strong. Even if it doesn’t happen at your table on Thanksgiving Day, join me now in grateful recognition of God’s amazing grace at work among us for 50 years. Thanks be to God!