History - LWMS

Who are we?

Lutheran Women's Missionary Society is made up of mission-minded women of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) as well as women belonging to congregations that share fellowship with WELS. As modern Christian women we follow the biblical examples of women who shared the same privilege and responsibilities to carry out God's work.

Women began meeting together as early as 1958 in the Mississippi River Valley area to share information on missions and other activities of WELS. The inaugural convention was to have happened in the summer of 1963, but the officers of the synod wanted to further examine all aspects of the foundling group, so the first convention did not happen until June 27, 1964 at St. Matthew's Church in Winona, Minnesota. Attendance numbered 256. The attendees adopted the mission statement and constitution. Erna Speckin was elected the first LWMS President. The theme  was "Oriental Harvest." These forward-thinking women saw the opportunity to participate in work being done halfway around the world from their own homes and congregations.

Today LWMS has over 800 member congregations that are organized into 60 circuits across the United States and Canada. Every woman in a member congregation is by virtue of her church membership a member of LWMS. Women from non-member WELS and ELS congregations can join LWMS as individual members.

Nine officers make up the Board of Directors and they serve many hours on a volunteer basis. In addition, three part-time employees operate the Central Office in West Allis, Wisconsin. They can be contacted at 414-321-6212 or by e-mail at centraloffice@lwms.org. Volunteers are always welcome to assist on a variety of non-elected and elected levels. God has put many gifted and talented women in our midst!

What is our mission?

The LWMS mission statement is: “LWMS is women dedicated to serving Jesus by increasing awareness of, interest in, and support of the mission outreach of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).” We want to encourage women (and men) to learn about, pray for, and support with their offerings WELS mission efforts in North America and around the world. We have sisters and brothers in the faith in over 39 countries around the world being served by WELS missionaries, going where we cannot go.

What do we do?

Active LWMS members meet to hear mission speakers, worship together, and sponsor mission projects of their choosing at local circuit rallis held biannually. In addition, LWMS hosts an annual convention that brings together members from across the country and around the world. Attendance at these conventions can range from 800 to1600 women. Conventions have been held in such places as Tacoma, Washington, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado. Typically there are four to six mission speakers from home and world missions along with a selection of five to seven workshops. Information on this year's convention can be found by clicking the convention link on the LWMS home page.

The Befriend A Mission (BAM) program administered by LWMS is another way that individual congregations and persons are encouraged to support, pray for, and communicate with our home and world missionaries. Every called WELS home or world missionary is matched with a circuit for mutual support through prayers, letters and cards, and small gifts when possible. Missionaries have expressed their gratefulness for this program. One missionary wife wrote, "My husband and I surely treasured those expressions of love from strangers that were our brothers and sisters in the faith." The meaning of this support is truly priceless.

In addition to sharing spiritual support, encouragement, and educating people about missions, LWMS also collects mission offerings from members and convention attendees. One hundred percent of mission offerings go towards mission work. It is estimated that in the 50+ years since the inception of LWMS, approximately $4,250,000 have been given to missions. Though raising money is not the most important goal, it gives great joy to those who contribute to the non-budgetary projects that the missionaries and their administrators feel worthy. Projects that are in need of support can be found in the Home and World Missions Projects booklet.

Why do we do it?

The work of LWMS is urgent. Though we may have the knowledge and comfort of Jesus' gift of salvation, millions of souls in this world do not know their Savior and are in despair. Every day we have the opportunity to give someone the greatest gift, the gift of God's Word, with the message of their Savior. As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the early Roman church "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" Join us in this good work! 
LWMS History

Who Are We?
Learn more about LWMS

Board of Directors
Past and present LWMS Board of Directors

Past Conventions
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." ~ Matthew 4:19