In 1953, shortly after China closed its doors to contacts with the international mission movement, missionaries were sent to northern Malaysia by the United Lutheran Church in America, one of the ELCA's predecessor churches, to begin Lutheran mission work among the ethnic Chinese community in Malaysia. At that time present-day Malaysia and Singapore were linked in one political unit. Gradually the pioneer mission efforts moved toward the south, first to metropolitan Kuala Lumpur, and soon after that to Singapore.
These mission efforts led to the formation of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore (LCMS) in 1963, with two districts within Malaysia and one district encompassing the island of Singapore. For some years, by mutual agreement, the congregations and districts of Malaysia have been working to organize a separate church for Malaysia alone, and their counterparts in Singapore have also been committed to setting up a separate Lutheran church to serve and witness within Singapore. This reflects the fact that Malaysia and Singapore have been separate countries politically since 1965, and their activities have also been independent of each other. The LCMS divided into the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and the Lutheran Church of Singapore on January 1, 1998.