Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Chicago, IL USA 6063

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ( ELCA, German Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ) is a Protestant church in the United States. The administrative headquarters of the ELCA located in Chicago. The ELCA is considered the most liberal among Lutheran churches in the United States.

Origin and size

The ELCA was founded in 1988 by the merger of three churches. The regional synods of the predecessor churches in Canada joined the same time for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

The ELCA has about 4.1 million members, making it the largest of the Lutheran churches in the United States. Belong to the church daughter churches in the Caribbean ( Bahamas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

The ELCA is by the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptists, United Methodists and Mormons - where, however, it is debatable whether it is Christians - one of the largest Christian churches in the United States and is followed by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (about 2.4 million members) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod ( 400,000 members), the largest membership of Lutheran Church. There are also other smaller Lutheran churches in the United States.

Structure and Organization

The ELCA has a full-time Presiding Bishop ( Presiding Bishop), who is elected by a general synod for a period of six years. The total Synod ( Church Wide Assembly) meets in all odd-numbered years and consists of lay and ordained, who are elected by the regional synods. Between meetings, the total Synod, the church is led by the Council of the whole Church ( ELCA Church Council). The current Chief Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton was elected in 2013.

The ELCA describes three levels as constitutive of its structural self-understanding:

  • Total Church ( church wide)
  • Regional synods
  • Local communities

The church is divided into 64 regional synods or dioceses in the United States and the Caribbean, as well as a domain-independent Synod ( the Slovak Zion Synod ). All synods each headed by a Synodalbischof and a Synodal Council ( Synod Council). The ELCA uses here the term " synod " in a form other than the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin.

At the level of the universal Church there are many organizations with different objectives. These include departments for World Mission, training and more. A total of 28 colleges and universities in the United States are connected to the ELCA.

The local communities are legally independent non-profit corporations. They fund essentially the Regional Synod and the universal Church. One of the local churches include the congregation of Zion Church of the City of Baltimore that keeps since 1755 without interruption in the U.S. services at the same site in German language.

In the ELCA men and women to be ordained.


At the last General Assembly in 2009, the parish has been opened in the ELCA for gay and lesbian clergy who live in a reliable, lifelong and publicly recognized partnership. This decision sparked protests from conservative circles. A number of communities left or leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ELCA; Delegates from 18 of them founded on 26-27. August 2010 in Grove City (Ohio ), the North American Lutheran Church (North American Lutheran Church NALC ).

Some community members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America came over also to communities in the Missouri Synod. To NALC claims to include over 100,000 Lutherans in over 300 congregations in North America. The NALC is based in Hilliard (Ohio ) sees himself as part of the main Lutheran movement ( mainstream ). Their theology is Christ -centered, missional, traditionalist and congregational. First bishop is John F. Bradosky.

Presiding Bishop

  • Herbert W. Chilstrom ( born October 18, 1931), in office from 1988 to 1995
  • H. George Anderson ( born March 10, 1932), in office from 1995 to 2001
  • Mark S. Hanson (2001-2013)
  • Elizabeth A. Eaton ( from 1 November 2013)

Ecumenical Relations

The ELCA is a member of the National Council of Churches of the United States and the World Council of Churches. It is a " partner in mission and dialogue " with Churches Uniting in Christ, an association of Protestant churches in the USA (not to be confused with the United Church of Christ ).

The church is in full communion with the member churches of the Lutheran World Federation, with the Episcopal Church in the United States, with the Moravian Church, the Presbyterian Church ( USA), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. She is the Evangelical Church in Germany linked by a contract as a partner church.

2005, there were between the ELCA and the United Methodist Church to an agreement on mutual communion even without interchangeability of clergy what is seen as a step towards a full communion, which is in the medium term eye. Currently, the two churches are working on a document " Confessing our Faith Together" ( our faith confess together ). On 30 April 2008 the General Conference of the United Methodist Church decided to full communion with the ELCA and in August 2009 the church community was also decided in Minneapolis from the ELCA.

On October 31, signed in 1999, the Lutheran World Federation - in which the ELCA is a member - a joint document to the Doctrine of Justification with the Roman Catholic Church in Augsburg.