Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Belief Lutheran ,
mainline church
distribution United States & Caribbean
Head bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
membership Lutheran World Federation
Establishment date January 1, 1988
Origin and development
successor of

Lutheran Church in America ,
American Lutheran Church ,
Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches

Members approx. 3.4 million (as of 2018)
Communities 9.091 (as of: 2018)
Website www.elca.org
The Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington, DC welcomes all people regardless of skin color or sexual orientation

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ( German  for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , ELCA ) is a Protestant church in the United States . The administrative headquarters of the ELCA are in Chicago . The ELCA is considered to be the most liberal of the Lutheran churches in the USA.

Origin and size

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was created in 1988 through the merger of three churches: the Lutheran Church in America founded in 1930 , the American Lutheran Church founded in 1960 and the “Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches” founded in 1976. At the same time, the regional synods of the predecessor churches in Canada merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada .

The ELCA has approximately 3.4 million members, making it the largest of the Lutheran churches in the United States . The Church has affiliated churches in the Caribbean ( Bahamas , Bermuda , Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands ).

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian churches in the United States , after the Roman Catholic Church , Southern Baptists , United Methodists and Mormons - although it is controversial whether or not they are Christians - followed by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (approx. 2.0 million members) and the Evangelical Lutheran Wisconsin Synod (approx. 360,000 members), the Lutheran church with the largest number of members. There are also other smaller Lutheran churches in the USA.

Structure and organization

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a full-time senior bishop (Presiding Bishop) , who is elected by a general synod for a period of six years. The Churchwide Assembly meets every odd year and consists of lay and ordained people elected by the regional synods. Between the meetings of the general synod, the church is led by the ELCA Church Council . The current Senior Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton was elected in 2013.

The ELCA describes three levels as constitutive for its structural self-image:

  • Whole church (churchwide)
  • Regional synods
  • Local parishes

The Church is divided into 64 regional synods or dioceses in the US and the Caribbean, as well as one non-territorial synod (the Slovak Zion Synod). All synods are presided over by a synodal bishop and a synod council . The ELCA uses the term “synod” in a different form than the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod or the Evangelical Lutheran Wisconsin Synod .

At the level of the whole Church there are numerous organizations with different objectives. This includes departments for world missions, training and others. A total of 28 colleges and universities in the USA are affiliated with the ELCA.

The local churches are legally independent, not-for-profit bodies. They essentially finance the regional synod and the universal church. One of the local congregations is the congregation of the Zion Church of the City of Baltimore , which has held services in the same location in German in the US without interruption since 1755.

Men and women are ordained in the ELCA . The blessing of same-sex couples is allowed in the ELCA since in 2009.


At the last plenary meeting in 2009, the pastoral office in the ELCA was also opened to gay and lesbian clergy who live in a reliable, lifelong and publicly recognized partnership. This decision sparked protests in conservative circles. A number of congregations left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ELCA; Delegates from 18 of them founded on 26./27. August, 2010 Grove City (Ohio), the North American Lutheran Church ( North American Lutheran Church NALC).

Some parishioners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also converted to Missouri Synod congregations . According to its own information, the NALC has over 100,000 Lutherans in over 300 parishes in North America. The NALC, based in Hilliard, Ohio, sees itself as part of the main Lutheran movement (mainstream). Their theology is Christ-centered, missionary, traditionalist and congregationalist . First bishop is John F. Bradosky.

Senior bishop

Ecumenical Relations

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a member of the US National Council of Churches , the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches . She is a “partner in mission and dialogue” with Churches Uniting in Christ , an association of Protestant churches in the USA.

The church has full communion fellowship with the member churches of the Lutheran World Federation. It has also since 1997 on the Formula of Agreement communion with the Presbyterian Church (USA) , the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ ; since 1999 with the Moravian Church and via the document Called to Common Mission with the Episcopal Church in the USA and since 2009 via the document Confessing our Faith Together with the United Methodist Church . It is linked to the Evangelical Church in Germany by a contract as a partner church.

A joint declaration was adopted with the Roman Catholic Church.

Web links


  1. a b ELCA Facts. In: elca.org. Retrieved September 4, 2019 .
  2. ^ The North American Lutheran Church. In: thenalc.org. Retrieved March 12, 2012 .
  3. Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop. Press release 13-56-MRC. (No longer available online.) In: elca.org. ELCA, August 14, 2013, archived from the original on September 9, 2013 ; accessed on February 4, 2019 .
  4. ELCA approves full communion with United Methodist Church ( Memento from January 26, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ). In: inforum.com. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, August 21, 2009, accessed April 9, 2018 (top of article). For all agreements on “full communion” see Full Communion Partners on the ELCA website.
  5. Partnership agreement between the ELCA and the EKD from 2007. (PDF; 25 kB) In: ekd.de, accessed on April 9, 2018.
  6. Declaration on the Way ( Memento from September 20, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: elca.org, accessed on April 9, 2018 ( in-via declaration between the ELCA and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the USA; English).