I attended the same Lutheran congregation for 20 years (CLBA), until I went off to college . In college I began attending a small Association Free Lutheran Church. Several years later I found myself serving a small country church for my field work experience in seminary. This country church had its roots in the old United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. Now, I find myself leading the liturgy in the vicarage status at the LCMS church in my home town.
Why do I share this with you? I share it with you because I was relatively unaware of all the different strains of Lutheranism for the first twenties years of my life. After leaving for college, I found myself introduced to several new strains of Lutheranism, thus causing me to realize that there were/are a plethora of Lutheran Synods/Denominations in America.
If you are like me, this realization may have caused you to ask, "Where did they all come from?" In asking this question though, I must caution you that it is fairly difficult to derive a simplistic answer. Indeed, the history of Lutheranism in America is a fairly complex story. It is complex due to the various immigration waves, the different historical geographical locations where Lutherans culminated, and, of course, some language barriers.
Thankfully, I recently came upon an incredible diagram that has helped me in understanding the historical formation of Lutheran Synods in America. It is a graphic that I obtained from one of my colloquy classes this summer at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. This graphic was put together by David Herald. It is an extremely nice visual that gives a bird's-eye view to the formation of Lutheran Synods in America. It was a blessing to me and I hope it is a blessing to you in understanding the formation of Lutheran Synods in America. Enjoy this tremendous resource!