The very first president of the Texas District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod was Rev. A.W. Kramer. Just recently, I met his great-granddaughter!
Pastor Kramer began his ministry in Texas as a church planter, taking over mission development in Coryell City in 1890 and starting the congregation in Copperas Cove. He continued ministry in Thorndale, developing the congregation into one of the strongest in the Texas District and, while serving there, was elected as the first district president of the newly formed Texas District in 1906.
Kramer’s church planting roots and outreach zeal bore witness to the mission expansion legacy of Texas. The district was planted by the Southern District of the LCMS as a mission effort. Church multiplication momentum grew as the years passed. The focus in Texas has always been to share the Gospel with more and more people so that many might receive the gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Over the years, approaches to mission and new outreach to the growing and diverse Texas population have changed and developed. As the world has come to Texas, our outreach has continued to be innovative, contextual, and vibrant.
Recently, I was surprised when a woman I’ve served with in various ministry efforts told me that she was Rev. A.W. Kramer’s great-granddaughter! Her name is Sylvia Diaz. She grew up in Texas—raised in San Antonio after her father moved there for his job. Now, she and her husband, Alfonso (both pictured with this article), live in New Mexico. They are active members and leaders at a local LCMS church and they serve on the board of directors of the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute (LHMI) in El Paso, Texas. This institute was started in response to the work of the LCMS Frontera Ministry, a ministry of the Texas, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific-Southwest Districts of the LCMS. Founded nearly twenty years ago, Frontera serves as a voice for expanding Hispanic ministry training and activity. The institute offers online courses that help lay people serve their local churches and communities and that allow workers to qualify for pastoral and deaconess training at our LCMS seminaries.
How might Rev. A.W. Kramer react to this amazing development? Could he have ever imagined that his own great-granddaughter would be helping to lead the way in advancing new mission frontiers and shaping new mission servants for the sake of the Gospel? Would he have ever dreamed that his very own family would be a beautiful blend of German heritage and Hispanic initiative to new generations with the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ?
From Kramer to Diaz: it’s part of the beautiful and unfolding story of the Texas District and our beloved LCMS. It exemplifies the mission spirit we’re privileged to be a part of in Texas!
Did you know that your gift to Texas Missions will be matched 100 percent when you open an investment account of at least $5000 with Texas CEF?
And now, for every account opened in November and December, Texas CEF will donate an ADDITIONAL $1000 to Texas Partners in Mission. Click here for details.
Click here to support the unfolding mission of God in Texas.
By Rev. Michael Newman
President, LCMS Texas District