Oklahoma District History

Some of the participants in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 were members of the Lutheran Church. They helped to establish a foothold for the Church in the Oklahoma Territory. Many had migrated to Oklahoma from Kansas, and it was from Kansas that the first Lutheran pastors came. Lutheran pioneers also came from Nebraska, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and the northern states.

In 1893, the first permanent missionary for Oklahoma, Candidate M.J. Von der Au began his work. His primary sphere of activity was Okarche where a small congregation had been organized. He also served people in Choctaw City, Oklahoma City, Norman, Guthrie, and elsewhere. By the start of the twentieth century, there were seven pastors and three students active in the territory.

The religious census report for 1906 showed there were ninety-two Lutheran preaching places with a membership of 4,030 persons.  Growth of Lutherans in Oklahoma continued and in 1924, the first convention of the Oklahoma District was held. Until 1924, the LCMS congregations in Oklahoma were part of the Kansas District. In 1922, the Kansas District petitioned the Synod to create an independent Oklahoma District.  The 1923 LCMS Convention, held in St. Louis, granted the request. Oklahoma became the 28th district of the LCMS in 1924, convening at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Okarche. Forty-three voting delegates from Oklahoma’s Lutheran churches organized the district. Ten new congregations were accepted at the first convention, making at total of 34.

The first President of the District was Henry Mueller, who began his work in 1899 serving at Nardin (near Blackwell), Newkirk, Ponca City and Harpersville. He became secretary of the Kansas District in 1903 before his election as President of the newly formed Oklahoma District in 1924.  The Oklahoma District has been ably served by the following Presidents.  

Rev. Henry Mueller, 1924–39

Rev. Carl R. Matthies, 1939–40

Rev. Edward C. Hauer, 1940–42

Rev. Paul J. Hartenberger, 1942–43

Rev. Otto Henry Hoyer, 1943–54

Rev. Alfred E. Behrend, 1954–70

Rev. Harold E. Brockhoff, 1970–78

Rev. Gerhard F. Bode, 1978-88

Rev. Robert L. Jackson, 1988-91

Rev. William R. Diekelman, 1991-2004

Rev. Paul A. Hartman, 2004-2009

Rev. Barrie E. Henke, 2009-present

Rev. Henry Mueller

 

Whenever a Lutheran congregation organized, it immediately concerned itself with building a school. In some cases, the schools came first. The first established congregation at Okarche began its school as early as 1893. Lutheran Schools are still an important part of the Oklahoma District, learn more about our schools here.

Today, Oklahoma Lutherans continue to faithfully worship, educate, care for others and reach out to all people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. And we have fun through fellowship and a wide variety of activities!

To learn more or get involved, contact or visit one of our congregations.