Who We Are
SNAPSHOT OF THE CNH DISTRICT
The California-Nevada-Hawaii District is part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS is a family of 2.6 million Christians, gathered in more than 6000 congregations, and is divided into 35 geographical Districts throughout the United States. The CNH District includes 186 churches and 70 schools (Preschool through High School) in Northern California, Northern Nevada, and Hawaii.
Our church body was founded more than 150 years ago by a small band of immigrants in America who were dedicated to preaching and teaching the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins through Christ alone. Many of the founders of our Synod were from Missouri, hence the word “Missouri” in our name. Our congregations are united in an association of Christian fellowship called a “Synod”, which means “walking together.” Every congregation is self-governed and unique. We believe and teach the same Biblical truths, but our congregations also reflect the diversity of the people we serve.
HISTORY OF THE CALIFORNIA-NEVADA-HAWAII DISTRICT
The District officially began in late September 1887 when the “parent” California and Oregon District met in San Francisco for its organizing convention. Pastor Jacob Matthias Buehler had already been laboring in San Francisco for 27 years. Buehler had been sent in 1860 in response to a letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Schreiber to Dr. C.F.W. Walther, president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, urgently appealing for the Missouri Synod to send a confessionally loyal Lutheran pastor to California.
The 1880s saw the arrival of more missionary pastors and the beginnings of work in a number of places up and down the Pacific Coast. In 1886, two congregations, St. Paulus of San Francisco and Trinity in Los Angeles, applied for formal membership in the Missouri Synod, and what was then its Western District. The following year two more joined—St. John’s in Orange, CA, and St. Peter’s, Cornelius, OR. That same 1887 Synodical convention in May also authorized these far-off congregations on the West Coast to organize their own district.
Many of the District’s early pastors started out as missionaries-at-large, exploring for German Lutheran prospects and organizing congregations. Buehler himself, though he soon had a large church of his own and by 1889 it “mothered” a second parish, St. John’s in San Francisco, often made far-ranging mission exploration trips—including the Central Valley, Southern California, and even up into Oregon and Washington.
The California and Oregon District’s organizing convention met September 21-27 of that year at St. Paulus in San Francisco. Pastor Jacob Buehler was elected president, a position he continued to serve with distinction until his sudden death in 1901.
In 1899, twelve years after its birth, this initial all-Pacific Coast district had grown enough to warrant having Oregon and Washington (name later changed to Pacific Northwest) form a district of its own, taking with it 9 pastors, 8 teachers and 2200 members.
Our “parent” District, changing its name to California and Nevada, continued with 18 pastors, 8 teachers, and 3000 members. It in turn divided once again in 1930, when the Southern California (today Pacific Southwest) District went on its own. Our District added Hawaii, where we had congregations dating back to 1945, to its name in the 1970s.
The LCMS, and the CNH specifically, has a rich historical heritage in California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Our logo provides a modern display of a historic art form, playing on the familiar stained glass craftsmanship celebrated and loved in churches across the CNH. Our stained glass view is a window into the natural God-painted beauty and landmarks of each state: monumental volcanoes, swirling red desert, and deep blue ocean. Whatever the region, the light of Christ is found permeating all three.