Most Lutheran synods in the United States, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), have bishops as part of their church hierarchy just like many other mainline Protestants.

Why does the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod not have bishops and instead have a “President” and similar leadership?

  • As this is more of a guess, I'm not going to add it as an answer, but... possibly to emphasize the lack of the sort of theological authoritarianism in the RCC? Since historic/confessional Lutherans reject the (divine) primacy of the Pope, de-emphasizing the associated terminology may be a way of further distancing themselves from what Lutherans see as a heresy. On a related note, I would not consider ELCA confessional; they have rejected most of the Lutheran teachings.
    – Matthew
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


The Lutheran doctrine of the pastoral ministry (popularized by C.F. Walther) is that it is an apostolic office. Technically speaking each senior or sole pastor of a local church is an overseer (i.e. bishop) of that church. Although, to be sure the nomenclature if "bishop" is not used that often. In the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, sometimes District Presidents are also given an honor title of "bishop" in that they oversee clergy in their region. Such is the case with the Atlantic District.

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