by Adriane Dorr
C. F. W. Walther didn’t look like much of a leader. His hair wasn’t perfect. His suits weren’t pressed. His beard wasn’t trimmed. By today’s standards, he looked unkempt and unhealthy.
But our mothers were right when they told us not to judge a book by its cover. For hidden behind sunken cheeks and disheveled hair was a faithful and pious pastor, hymn writer, theologian, scholar and leader.
In this special edition of The Lutheran Witness, we give thanks to God for this humble man, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther, the first president of The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod even as we remember the 200th anniversary of his birth (Oct. 25).
LCMS Iowa District East President Brian Saunders explains why Walther’s life and work as pastor and Synod president still matter for the church today in “A Man for the Ages.”
In “Law and Gospel with Pastor Walther,” Prof. John T. Pless highlights Walther’s prolific writing on understanding and discerning the difference between God’s Law and His Gospel.
The Rev. Jon D. Vieker brings Walther’s love of text and tune to life in “Born for nothing but music,” which also offers a closer look at how Walther’s criteria for music set the stage for Lutheran hymns and hymnals still in use today.
David Fiedler’s “A Great and Faithful Teacher” describes an effort by the LCMS to care for the mausoleum in which Walther and his wife, Emilie, are entombed and, by extension, to promote its history and heritage.
In “Walther’s Breakdowns,” LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison sheds light on the physical, mental and spiritual struggles Walther faced as he prayed for strength and clarity, both as pastor and Synod leader.
Walther may not have looked like much, but his life and writing point us again and again to Christ. That is why we remember him. That is why we commemorate the anniversary of his birth. And that is why we give thanks to God for his faithfulness to Scripture, to the Gospel, to Christ’s work through him.
Adriane Dorr, Managing Editor
The Lutheran Witness