A History of Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod Schools in Wisconsin, National Policies and Local Implementation
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Collins, Peter M.
Lutherans have been maintaining parochial or Christian day schools in America since the seventeenth century and have been influential in the development of education in this country. With the recent surge in the establishment of Evangelical Protestant day schools, the story of the Lutheran experience needs to be retold. Of all Lutheran schools in America, the largest number are operated by congregations of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. The purpose of this dissertation is to survey historically the educational policies formulated by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and its South Wisconsin District, especially in the twentieth century, and then to discover how these were or were not reflected in a sample of individual congregations in Wisconsin. Published proceedings of the Synod and South Wisconsin District conventions form the main source of national and district policies. Parish records and minutes of board and congregational meetings are the main source for local parish policies and practices. The congregations represent historical, urban, rural, suburban, and more recently established schools. The principles of Lutheran Education stem from Lutheran theology. Because of this, the dissertation summarizes theological ideas from Luther, Melanchthon, Walther and others as they relate to education. These ideas affected the purposes of Lutheran schools, their curriculum, financing, supervision, and relations with the state and the public schools. These ideas were also integral to the status and function of Lutheran parochial teachers, both male and female. The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, while mainly a confederation of semi-independent congregations, has had a surprising amount of voluntary cooperation and uniformity among its parish schools. This is a result of both a common doctrinal stand and the synod's direct supervision of its teachers. This dissertation demonstrates, in an historical manner, the close connection between theological doctrine, church policy, and parish practices.