Johann Konrad Wilhelm Löhe

Despite being confined to a pastorate in an out-of-the-way village, Neuendettelsau, which he never left, Wilhelm Löhe (1808-1872) nevertheless exhibited a keen interest in missionary work. He was particularly concerned about the state of German immigrants to North America. He solicited funds through a variety of sources to help bolster the spiritual state of the immigrant population beginning in 1841.

He also encouraged the sending of pastors to North America to assist the settlers and help with conversion of the Native American populations. To this end, he constructed two schools to train missionaries. One of which became Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where Georg Grossmann served as the first president.

Individuals sent by Löhe were instrumental in the founding of the Synod of Ohio, though Löhe withdrew his support from the Synod in 1845 over doctrinal differences. Löhe’s emissaries also founded the Missouri Synod in 1846. In 1853, Löhe supporters established the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Iowa. While Löhe is most well remembered for his encouragement of missionary activity in the United States, he also supported work in Brazil, Ukraine, Australia, and New Guinea through his Foreign Missionary Society. He is commemorated by the ELCA and the LCMS on January 2 each year.