In the Face of the West Wind
Rural Churches in the Midwest
The typical 19th-century Midwestern Lutheran congregation was rural. Immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia, and other European countries, along with second-, third-, and fourth-generation American Lutherans from eastern states, came to the Midwest, seeking land, freedom, and opportunity, and bringing their religion.
The steady migration of Americans from the farms to the cities began after the Civil War and was spurred by the First and Second World Wars. By the late 1920s, only 47 percent of Lutherans lived in rural or small-town settings, compared with 44 percent of the general population. At that same time, however, nearly 70 percent of Lutheran congregations were rural. In his 1916 book, The Lutheran Church in the Country, G.H. Gerberding warned that large corporate farms, run by tenants, would cause the rural community and the Lutheran Church to suffer.
Read more on the ELCA Archives website