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Pictured Left to Right: Aline Koller, Vice President of Communications for the IELB; Rev. Tiago Albrecht, Director of IELB Radio; Mrs. Tania Kopereck; Rev. Egon Kopereck, President of the IELB. The group is standing in the “original” Concordia Seminary and site of the Altenburg Debates in Perry County, MO.

A delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil visited the Saint Louis region from May 11-18, 2015. The delegation, which previously in the week visited Concordia Seminary, the LCMS International Center, Lutheran Hour Ministries, and Concordia Publishing House, concluded its trip in Perry County, MO, located about 100 miles south of Saint Louis. President Kopereck said, “We need to see the birthplace of the Missouri Synod.”

Perry CountyPerry County, MO, is the location where the Saxons including C.F.W. Walther, originally settled after leaving Germany in the Fall of 1838. They arrived in New Orleans on January 21, 1839. Approximately, 700 settlers left Germany for Missouri under the leadership of Bishop Stephen.

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After Bishop Stephen’s immoral lifestyle became known among the Saxons who settled in Missouri, he was expelled from the colony. Considering that the colony left Germany believing their were led by God to come to the United States, a number of them were thrown in to doubt. This led to the Altenburg debates, where C.F.W. Walther and Marbach debated. Walther argued that the group was still the church because they are believers who have been “called and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the Word.”

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The Altenburg Debate happened inside the “original” Concordia Seminary pictured above. The seminary was not originally located in its current location but was moved some years later.

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This photo shows the seminary being moved using rollers and horses in the late 19th century.

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Dr. Fred Baue, whose family is from Altenburg / Frohna et al, helped arrange the tour. A special thanks to Pastor Steven Dressler who welcomed us and his wife who prepared lunch for us, and all the folks at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum.

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Pictured Left to Right: President Kopereck, Rev. Tiago Albrecht, and Pastor Steven Dressler

President Kopereck brings greetings in English, German, and Portuguese to Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

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After leaving Altenberg, we shopped at the Saxon Lutheran Memorial, operated by the Concordia Historical Institute (CHI).

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The Missouri Synod purchased the first 11 acres (today the site is 30 acres) of the Saxon Lutheran Memorial in 1961. The site is the homestead of Wilhelm & Christian Bergt, original settlers of the 1839 expedition to Perry County.

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Rolling hills and meadows at the Saxon Lutheran Memorial.

DSC_1557Log cabins and homesteads on the property.

To some in the United States, it may seem odd that people would travel all the way from Brazil to see a few small towns in rural Missouri. Yet the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil is a daughter church of the Missouri Synod. Some of the first missionaries to Brazil in the mid-1890s came from this region of Missouri. During the Brazilian delegation’s visit to the International Center, they were able to see some of these connections first hand.

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Mr. Mark Hofman, LCMS Executive Director of Mission Advancement, shows the Brazilian delegation family photographs from his grandfather’s time as a missionary in Brazil.

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Martin Hofman, grandfather to Mark Hofman pictured above, received a call to Brazil in 1935. He visited congregation members and preaching stations on his mule named “Duke.” Pastor Martin Hofman lived in a rural area, between Domingosz Martins (west/southwest of Vitoria) and Santa Maria de Jetibá.

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The Brazilian Delegation meeting with President Matthew Harrison

After seeing how the Missouri Synod remembers her history, President Kopereck said that he needs to bring this back to Brazil to help his church recall its history. He said that it is important for church members to remember where they came from and that they have a connect to God’s people from the past who handed down the faith.