The first president of the LCMS was C.F.W. Walther, a German immigrant.
The LCMS is a conservative Lutheran church body, and falls on the conservative side of mainline Protestant church bodies as a whole. It practices closed communion and its worship style is often traditional and liturgical, utilizing a printed order of service and traditional hymns, often centuries old, accompanied by a pipe organ.
LCMS pastors are generally required to have a four-year bachelor's degree (in any discipline), as well as a four-year Master's of Divinity degree from one of the body's two seminaries, in St. Louis, Missouri or Fort Wayne, Indiana. In seminary, pastors learn doctrine (the basic teachings and beliefs of the church) and the original Biblical languages, as well as one or more areas of specialization such as education or music.
The LCMS has been divided in recent years by two political factions. On one side is the Confessionals, who seek to preserve the traditional hymnal and liturgy, and on the other is a more evangelical-style group that seeks to modernize the service utilizing contemporary songs and instruments and sometimes relaxing the stance on closed communion. Although their style of worship differs, the doctrinal teachings of the two groups varies little. In an attempt to bridge this gap, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is composing a new hymnal that will utilize both traditional and contemporary hymns.