Our History

The history of Lutheran Disaster Response is one that takes us through the storied history of the Lutheran church in the United States. Believe it or not, Lutheran Disaster Response can trace it's history back 40 years! Below is a quick timeline of important dates in this history to help give a sense of where we have come from and hopefully a direction for where we are going.

History of Lutheran Disaster Response

  • 1973: The Lutheran Church in America, American Lutheran Church and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod organize a joint disaster response program. This response was sparked by local congregations responding to flooding in Pennsylvania following Hurricane Agnes and the Rapid City flood in South Dakota the previous year. This ministry was called the Lutheran Domestic Disaster Response Board. This work is also coordinated with Church World Services who began engaging in domestic disaster work around the same time.
  • 1987: The American Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church in America and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church decided to merge into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod decided that domestic disaster response would be one of the shared pan-Lutheran minisitries. It took on the new name, Inter-Lutheran Disaster Response.
  • 1988: With the formation of the ELCA, it was determined there would be a connection between the church's international and domestic disaster responses called ELCA Disaster Response. On the domestic side, this work would be carried out by Inter-Lutheran Disaster Response. Internationally, this would be carried out through the already existing relationship of the predecessor church bodies with other global Lutheran churches and member organizations, like The Lutheran World Federation.
  • 1990: Inter-Lutheran Disaster Response signs a statement of understanding with the American Red Cross formalizing their relationship. They also become a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
  • 1996: During a response in the Virgin Islands to Hurricane Bertha, a sign-maker forgot to include the inter in Inter-Lutheran Disaster Response. The "mistake" was seen as a positive change and was formally adopted thus giving us the name Lutheran Disaster Response.
  • 2013: Following the ending of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's role in the national Lutheran Disaster Response program, the ELCA rebranded the name Lutheran Disaster Response to describe both its disaster work in the United States and internationally.