Why did 750 Saxon immigrants leave their homes, farms, and businesses in 1838 Germany to settle and build a new life in America? Dr. Tom Korcok has unearthed evidence that the founding members of the Missouri Synod were driven by their urgent desire to pull their children out of rationalist schools in Germany. He writes in Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future,
Persecution was felt most acutely in the classroom instead of the parish. Repeatedly, pastors involved in the emigration pointed to their concern over the educational environment of their children as the primary factor behind their decision to leave.
The first president of Missouri, C. F. W. Walther, wrote: “The care for the future of their children with respect to church and school had been for the Saxon Lutherans precisely the strongest motive for their emigration to America.” [underlining original]
Furthermore, another pastor who emigrated, H. G. Löber, wrote: “It was above all most important at our immigration that we protect our children from unchristian schooling.” Löber also wrote, “We will also now hold fast that aim [of establishing pure Lutheran schools] in our eyes, and will – if God will – as long as we live, not sway from it.” [All quotations cited from Korcok]
What, dear friends, are we to make of this? Have the founders’ wishes come true? Have we succeeded in protecting our children from unchristian schooling? Are we carrying the torch forward in our day with unwavering conviction?