October 14th was a special day to those who had gathered in June, 1918 at Lime Creek Lutheran Church in Iowa to begin a new synod. These pastors and laypeople still considered themselves the heirs of the old Norwegian Lutheran Synod that was founded in 1853. October 14th was the day that Luther College was founded. Those people gathered at Lime Creek had lost almost every earthly tie—family and friends were separated, fellow pastors, colleges, seminaries, and hundreds of congregations. But they refused to give up the truth of the Gospel or compromise their faith.
Founder’s Day asks us to look back to those dedicated people so that we may continue to follow them in our dedication to God and our standing on the truths of God’s Word. More importantly, Founder’s Day gives us opportunity to thank God for preserving the pure Gospel in our Evangelical Lutheran Synod and among its pastors, teachers, and congregation members.
This day of remembrance urges us to pray fervently to God—thanking Him for all those who proclaimed His Word and those who believed it and asking Him to keep us in the true faith about Jesus as our Savior in the years ahead. We truly need to pray “deliver us from evil” as we see how strongly Satan is attacking the truth in our culture, in our nation, and within so many church bodies so that they no longer teach the Gospel.
We celebrate Founder’s Day to encourage us to be lights in the world. Those 200 people who gathered at Lime Creek could not know then how God would bless their faithful confession. One hundred years later, we thank God for the 130 congregations, 150 ministers, the Lutheran Elementary schools, Bethany Lutheran College, Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and our missions in our country and in other lands. None of this would have happened if God’s grace had given people the opportunity to plant churches, begin schools, and do mission work.
Founder’s Day looks back 100 years to the establishment of our synod in 1918. We have much to be thankful for as we see physical evidence of God’s blessing to our synod: The many congregations and pastors that are members of our Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Bethany Lutheran College, Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, its missions in Peru, Chile, India, Eastern Europe, and South Korea, the Elementary Lutheran Schools and Teachers, and the Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools in the churches.
We should especially give glory to God that He has kept our pastors and congregations faithful in proclaiming and believing the true message of the Gospel about Jesus Christ. Many other Lutheran synods and other denominations have turned away from the pure Gospel long before they reached one hundred years.
This 100th anniversary reminds us of those faithful believers now in heaven and it should motivate us to “Proclaim the wonders God has done” to a new generation—of children, neighbors, relatives, and friends. We may be tempted to pat ourselves on the back. However, proclaiming God’s wonders of salvation is even more urgent and important today, since so many people in our nation do not know Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life.”
-Rev. Theodore Gullixson