Rev. Gehlbach has served in the ministerium of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod since his 1987 graduation from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
Why was this site started?
Although my wife and I have not been on many vacations, over the years we have had the opportunity to visit many churches (primarily Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod congregations) and attend their services. The one thing we appreciated was attending congregations that used the historic liturgy. In these congregations, our children could easily fit in and follow the liturgy. However, there were some congregations we visited that we found difficult to identify as Lutheran. Now when we travel, our usual practice is to call to the Lutheran churches where we are visiting to find out if they use the liturgy.
Well, my “fussy family” was traveling to Florida in October of 2000. The question arose, “What church will we attend?” As we were thinking about this, we realized that many other people had the same concern. From there, the idea developed to gather this information into one place. In order for easy access, I set up a web site.
The hardest part was drawing up some criteria for listing congregations. Even among liturgical congregations, there are many diverse practices (chalice or individual cups, congregations which have both liturgical and contemporary services, open vs. closed communion, presence of a crucifix in or near the chancel, whether or not women assist in leading the service, three-year vs. one-year lectionary, choice of hymnal). After some input from fellow pastors (and my family), the criteria were formulated. The sad thing is some confessional pastors may not be able to be listed at this time because they are seeking to lead their congregations away from non-Lutheran practices to Lutheran practices (from open to closed communion or restoring the historic liturgy). It is my prayer that the Lord will sustain them in this task and give them wisdom to lead their people back to an historical, confessional, liturgical Lutheran practice.