6600 N Clinton St., Augustine Hall, #13, Fort Wayne, IN 46825-1551
921 E Dupont Rd., #920, Fort Wayne, IN, 46825.
The American Association of Lutheran Churches was founded in 1987 by former pastors and members of the American Lutheran Church (ALC) who did not wish to participate in that church’s 1988 merger with the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The church was organized at a gathering in Bloomington, Minnesota, in November 1987. The move by the ALC to merge occasioned the protest of more theologically conservative leaders who did not wish closer association with the more liberal LCA. A major concern was the authority of scripture, which the conservatives felt should include an affirmation of the inerrancy of the Bible.
With an emphasis upon the inerrancy of scripture, the new church accepted the position of the ALC, designating the ancient ecumenical creeds (The Apostles, Athanasian, and Nicene), the unaltered Augsburg Confession, and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism as its doctrinal statement. It also acknowledged the remaining documents of the Book of Concord as the normative presentation of its faith. It called its congregations to a program of solid Bible teaching and evangelism. It also passed strong statements against abortion (except when the mother’s life is threatened) and homosexuality. The association has a congregational form of church government.
By 2008, the association had 72 congregations, 9,000 baptized members, and 80 pastors. Churches are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
American Lutheran Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The American Association of Lutheran Churches./www.taalc.org.
“American Association of Lutherans Holds Constituting Convention.” The Christian News (December 14, 1987): 1, 15.
“American Protestantism or Lutheran Orthodoxy?” The Christian News (September 28, 1987): 16.
Bachmann, E. Theodore, and Mercia Brenne Bachmann. Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press, 1989.
R.R. 1, Bentley, AB, Canada T0C 0J0
The Apostolic Lutheran Church of America is the only branch of the Laestadian (Finnish Apostolic Lutheran) Movement to organize formally. Since 1908 the Old Laestadians had held an annual “big meeting” that was primarily a time for theological discussions and for affirming consensus. In 1928 the Old Laestadians announced their intention to establish a national church. In 1929 the constitution and by-laws were adopted, asserting the authority of the Bible and the Book of Concord. A congregational government and a mission program were established. The church body ordains ministers, establishes institutions, and helps found new congregations. The Old Laestadians practice the laying on of hands to absolve the confessor of felt sin. They also believe in the three baptisms: of water (establishing the covenant between God and his children), of the Holy Spirit (the bond of love), and of blood (godly sorrow).
The Apostolic Lutheran Church is headed by a president and a central board. There are two districts. Congregations are located in Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, California, Canada, and the Carolinas. It has a foreign mission board with missions in India, Guatemala, Nigeria, and South Africa.
In 2006 the church reported 51 congregations in the United States and four in Canada.
Inter-Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hancock, Michigan.
Christian Monthly. Available from PO Box 2126, Battle Ground, WA 98604-2126.
Apostolic Lutheran Church of America. www.apostolic-lutheran.org.
Constitution and By-Laws. Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, 1929.
Saanivaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian of Apostolic-Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Company, 1947.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The branch of the Apostolic Lutherans, generally called the First Borns, are a continuation of the congregation headed by John Takkinen. They are aligned with the followers of Juhani Raattamaa headquarted at Gellivaara, Finland. They differ from the Old Laestadians (i.e., the Apostolic Lutheran Church) by their emphasis on the simplicity of the Christian life. They turn to the elders of Gellivaara for particular decisions on moral questions. They forbid neckties, pictures on walls, taking photographs, hats on women, Christmas trees, life insurance, and flowers at funerals.
The First Borns were among the first to introduce English in worship and to publish English books. They hold Big Meetings every summer. They print their church news in Valvoju, an unofficial publication circulated among Apostolic Lutherans. By the latest count (in the 1940s) there were approximately 2,000 members. Churches are located in Michigan; Wilmington, North Carolina; Wilmington, Delaware; Brush Prairie, Washington; and Gackle, North Dakota. There are approximately 25 congregations.
Saanivaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic-Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Co., 1947.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
That branch of the Apostolic Lutheran Movement generally referred to as the “Evangelicals No. 1” began with the inspiration and preaching of Arthur Leopold Heideman (1862–1928), who emphasized positive evangelism. Among the Apostolic Lutherans, they put the least emphasis on confession and sanctification. They use, but do not consider important, public confession. The Evangelicals No. 1 have experienced two splits: In 1921 to 1922 a group led by Paul A. Heideman returned to the beliefs of the Old Laestadians; and in 1940 a split occurred over the place of the commands and counsels of Christ and the apostles and the use of confession. The Evangelicals No. 1 represent those who hold that the commands of Christ are necessary as a norm for Christian living. They believe themselves to be the one church of true believers.
Saavinaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic-Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Co., 1947.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Formed in 1940 and having broken from the Apostolic Lutherans (Evangelicals No. 1), the branch of the Apostolic Lutheran Movement generally called the “Evangelicals No. 2” rejects the need of the commands and counsels of Christ because, they say, the grace of God works in believers to bring about a denial of unrighteousness and worldly lusts, and it works to instill godly and righteous behavior. They reject the confession of sins as a Roman Catholic institution, and they do not emphasize absolution. The law, they believe, should be preached to unbelievers, but only the gospel of free grace to believers.
Like the Evangelicals No. 1, this group believes itself to be the one true church of Christ. Founders of the group include John Koskela, Victor Maki, John Taivalmaa, and Andrew Leskinen.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Possibly the smallest branch of the Laestadians, or Apostolic Lutheran Movement, is the New Awakening Group. They teach the “third use of the law,” that is, that Christians must abide by the Ten Commandments in addition to Christ’s two laws of love of God and love of neighbor. They also teach a second experience following conversion, the “circumcision of the heart,” in which one’s heart is deeply broken but then experiences a fuller knowledge of Christ’s redemptive work and of sanctification.
Saanivaara, Uuras. The History of the Laestadian or Apostolic-Lutheran Movement in America. Ironwood, MI: National Publishing Co., 1947.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Heidemans are the second largest group of Apostolic Lutherans. The group was formed in 1921 to 1922 by members of the Apostolic Lutherans (Evangelicals No. 1) who separated and returned to the Old Laestadian position. Thus they resemble the Old Laestadians group, but they remain outside of its organization. The leader of the group was Paul A. Heideman, son of Arthur Leopold Heideman, who was for many years the only ordained minister in the group. He was assisted by a number of preachers.
Rauhan Tervehdys. • Greetings of Peace.
c/o Rev. Rolf D. Preus, First American Lutheran Church, 214 Third Ave. NE, PO Box 541, Mayville, ND 58257
The Association of Confessional Lutheran Churches was formed in 2007 by seven pastors and nine congregations that either left or were dropped from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. They were representative of a movement that placed renewed emphasis on the Lutheran Confessions and their application to church life. They also complained of a certain level of apathy in the Synod. The member churches state: “We reject and condemn any approach to the Lutheran Confessions that would deny their relevance to the church today or their suitability to settle doctrinal disputes among us.”
The new association differs from its parent body on matters of emphasis rather than disagreement over specific doctrines or practice. The association almost immediately entered into dialogue with several other conservative confessional Lutheran bodies, including the Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference and the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America. It adopted a form of conferencing that allows for conversation without commitment to specific outcomes.
In 2008 the association reported nine congregations located in the Midwest and on the West Coast.
Association of Confessional Lutheran Churches. reformationchurch.org/ACLC.htm.
3110 E Medicine Lake Blvd., Plymouth, MN 55441
The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations was formed in 1962 by congregations that refused to enter the merger of the Lutheran Free Church with the American Lutheran Church. Among the organizers was the Rev. John P. Strand, who became president at its founding. The dissenting congregations (about 40 in number) met at Thief River Falls, Minnesota, for the organization. They opposed the American Lutheran Church’s membership in the World Council of Churches; the liberal theology reflected in new attitudes toward the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church; compromises of congregational polity; high-churchism; and the lack of emphasis on personal Christianity.
The Association adheres to the traditional Lutheran confessional documents, especially the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism. The group believes the Bible is the word of God, complete, infallible, and inerrant, and rejects all affiliations and associations that do not accept the Bible alone as definitive for life and practice. The Association specifically rejects the liberal drift of Lutheran theology that accepts modern biblical criticism. It also has refused to make any move toward Roman Catholicism unless the Roman Catholic Church first accepts the Lutheran principles of justification by faith alone and the role of the Bible as the supreme authority for humanity.
A variety of worship styles is characteristic of the Association. A variety of biblical translations are used. Simplicity in worship is encouraged and centrality is given to preaching.
The Association continues the congregational structure of the former Lutheran Free Church. Final human authority rests in local churches, under the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Representatives of the congregations meet annually in conference. The conference oversees the seminary and bible school; mission work in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and South Africa; and a home mission program.
In 2008, the Association reported 43,000 members, 280 churches, and 252 ministers in the United States. There are seven churches and eleven ministers in Canada.
Association Free Lutheran Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Minnesota.
Association Free Lutheran Bible School, Plymouth, Minnesota.
The Lutheran Ambassador.
Walker, Larry, ed. Standing Fast in Freedom. AFLC, 1996. Booklet, available through AFLC.
c/o St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church, 14th St. and 27th Ave., Astoria, NY 11102
The Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches is a small, conservative Lutheran church. It affirms the authority of the Bible as the true written Word of God and finds true declaration of its teachings in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds. Theologically, it is shaped by the writings of Martin Luther and the sixteenth-century Lutheran community collected in the Book of Concord: the Augsburg Confession of 1530, the Smalcald Articles of 1537, the Small and Large Catechism of 1529 by Martin Luther, the Treatise, and the Augsburg Confession and Apology.
The church is led by its presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Pedro Bravo-Guzmán, who oversees its U.S. parishes. There are also dioceses for Haiti, South America, and South Africa. The church is in full communion with the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, the Lutheran Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church, all based in the United States, and several churches based in Haiti and South America.
Not reported. There are several parishes in New York and the Caribbean.
Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches. www.associationofindependentevangelicallutheranchurches.org/.
Pastor Zip’s U.S. Lutheran Web Links. homepage.mac.com/pastorzip/uslutheranlinx.html#LEPC.
PO Box 332, Greenfield, IA 50849
The Augsburg Lutheran Churches were formed in 2001 at a constituting meeting held at Elk Horn, Iowa, of representatives of several congregations previously belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America (ELCA). The representatives initially formed the Augsburg Lutheran District, a nongeographical district of the ELCA and a fellowship of churches who opposed ongoing trends in the ELCA to standardize the practices of ordination in the church. In the 1990s the ELCA had entered into a number of ecumenical relationships. From their discussions with the Episcopal Church, the ELCA had accepted an imperative to unify its practice of ordination and associated church structures; the many proposals were embodied in a 2001 document, “Called to Common Mission.” Among the most controversial was the move toward a bishopric with full apostolic succession.
Some within the church opposed the changes because they believed that the Augsburg Confession (1530), considered the founding document of Lutheranism, holds that ordination is not a sacrament, but a human ceremony. Thus its observance need not be uniform across the church. In 2003 the Augsburg Lutheran District reorganized as a separate denomination and adopted its present name.
The Augsburg Lutheran Churches are organized congregationally and exist as a fellowship to serve and support the member churches. The fellowship organization carries on a variety of tasks for the member churches, including publishing a bimonthly newsletter, maintaining a roster of member clergy, facilitating the efforts of member ministers to serve as military chaplains, and holding an annual convention. The annual convention is the highest legislative body among the churches, and it selects the Augsburg Council and an executive council to administer the churches’affairs between conventions. The churches accept the basic documents constituting the Lutheran theological tradition and apply a conservative interpretation to them.
The Augsburg Lutheran Churches is closely associated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, and some of its congregations have joint membership in both bodies.
Augsburg is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the National Association of Evangelicals Chaplains Commission
Augsburg Lutheran Theological Seminary.
The Crux of the Matter.
Augsburg Lutheran Churches. www.augsburgchurches.org/.
1020 Alcott Ave. W, Fergus Falls, MN 56537
PO Box 655, Fergus Falls, MN 56538-0655
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America was organized December 17, 1900, when five independent Lutheran congregations met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and adopted a constitution closely patterned after that of the Lutheran Free Church of Norway.
The spiritual awakening in the upper Midwest during the 1890s brought new concerns to pastors and laymen, particularly issues of church membership, communion, confirmation, and church polity. These concerns crystallized into convictions that led to the founding of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren is nonliturgical in worship, with central emphasis on the sermon. The primary criterion for church membership is a personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The communion service is reserved for those who profess personal faith in Christ. Each congregation is autonomous, and the synod serves the congregations in advisory, administrative, and cooperative capacities.
Approximately 40 percent of the synodical budget goes towards world mission ventures. A growing home mission ministry is planting new congregations in the United States and Canada. The educational mission of the synod dates back to its very beginning; a Bible school begun in 1903 continues to this day under the name of the Lutheran Center for Christian Learning. A seminary department was added during its early years, and in 1917 an academy was added. The three schools share adjacent campuses in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
The administrative offices and Faith and Fellowship Press are located near the school campuses. Affiliate organizations operate several retirement/nursing homes, and conference and retreat centers.
The Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America (CLBA) is a family of 123 congregations in the United States and Canada, with 1,500 daughter congregations in Cameroon, Chad, Japan, and Taiwan now organized into four national churches.
Lutheran Brethren Seminary, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Lutheran Center for Christian Learning, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Faith and Fellowship. Send orders to 704 Vernon Ave. W, Fergus Falls, MN 56537.
Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America. www.clba.org.
Levang, Joseph H. The Church of the Lutheran Brethern, 1900–1975. Fergus Falls, MN: Lutheran Brethren, 1975.
Petersen, A. A. Questions and Answers about the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America. Fergus Falls, MN: Lutheran Brethren, 1962.
Varberg, Dale, and Idella Varberg. The Church of the Lutheran Brethren: Its Historical Roots and Distinctive Beliefs. Fergus Falls, MN: Faith and Fellowship Press, 2000.
501 Grover Rd., Eau Claire, WI 54701
The Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) was organized in 1960 at Watertown, South Dakota, by congregations and clergy who had formerly belonged to the various Lutheran denominations that had comprised the Synodical Conference, a Lutheran ecumenical body. With the loss of doctrinal unity within the conference, they felt compelled by their consciences to leave. At the time of their organization, there were more than 30 congregations; during a generation of growth, this conservative body has more than doubled in size.
In 2002 the church reported 75 congregations, 8,671 members, and 60 ministers. In 2008 member congregations of the CLC were located in 23 states and Canada, and the church body supported missions in 18 U.S. cities. Although it is not in fellowship with any other U.S. Lutheran body, the CLC has fellowship with three overseas church bodies it is helping to support in India and Nigeria.
Immanuel Lutheran College and Seminary, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
The Lutheran Spokesman. Send orders to 2750 Oxford St. N, Roseville, MN 55113. • Journal of Theology. Available from Immanuel Lutheran College and Seminary, 501 Grover Rd., Eau Claire, WI 54701.
Church of the Lutheran Confession. clclutheran.org.
Bachmann, E. Theodore, and Mercia Brenne Bachmann. Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press, 1989.
Mark…Avoid…Origin of CLC. Eau Claire, WI: CLC Bookhouse, 1983.
Central Ave. at 171st Pl., Oak Forest, IL 60452-4913
The Concordia Lutheran Conference was organized in 1951 as the Orthodox Lutheran Conference, chiefly by former members of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod who wished to “continue in the former doctrinal position of the Missouri Synod” in the face of what they held to be persistent deviations in doctrine and practice. Reorganized in 1956 under its present name and constitution, the church body holds the Bible to be the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God and the only source and norm of Christian doctrine and life. They accept the Book of Concord of 1580 as a proper exposition of the Word of God in the matters that it treats, together with the Missouri Synod’s Brief Statement of 1932, as confessional documents to which all their clergy and member congregations subscribe without qualification. Although it rejects indiscriminate ecumenism, the conference is nonseparatist and seeks fellowship with others on the basis of unity in faith and confession. Without apologizing for its small size, it maintains a broad-based program that includes a seminary, a publishing house, and foreign missions in Russia and Nigeria.
In March 2008 there were six member congregations and six clergy/ministersin the United States. and seven congregations and ministers in fellowship abroad. They have affiliated work in Russia and Nigeria. Their publishing house, Scriptural Publications, is in Oak Forest, Illinois.
Concordia Theological Seminary, Oak Forest, Illinois.
The Concordia Lutheran (bimonthly).
Concordia Lutheran Conference. www.concordialutheranconf.com.
Concordia Lutheran Conference. Articles of Incorporation: The Concordia Lutheran Conference, Inc. Amended February 2000.
Bachmann, E. Theodore, and Mercia Brenne Bachmann. Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press, 1989.
Concordia Lutheran Conference. “What Is the Concordia Lutheran Conference?” Available from www.concordialutheranconf.com.
Concordia Lutheran Conference. Constitution and Bylaws. Oak Forest, IL: Author, 1957–2004.
Mensing, H. David. A Popular History of the Concordia Lutheran Conference. Oak Forest, IL: Scriptural Publications, 1981. Rpt. 2004.
3504 N Pearl St., PO Box 7186, Tacoma, WA 98407
The Conservative Lutheran Association is the name adopted by the congregations associated with the World Confessional Lutheran Association, a conservative Lutheran advocacy group founded as Lutherans Alert National in 1965 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by a group of conservative Lutheran pastors and laypeople concerned with the drift of the larger Lutheran bodies, all of which have now merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1988). Chief among their concerns was what they saw as a lessening of the authority of scripture. Lutherans Alert, a nonchurch-forming group, affirmed the inerrancy of the Bible.
In 1969 Lutherans Alert participated in the founding of Faith Evangelical Theological Seminary, a cooperative project of several conservative denominations. As support for Lutherans Alert continued to grow, it changed its name to World Confessional Lutheran Association in 1984 to acknowledge its international constituency.
The lack of response to the concerns of Lutherans Alert and the move toward the 1988 merger of the larger Lutheran denominations led congregations to attach themselves to the World Confessional Lutheran Association. These merged groups were organized in a separate division called the Conservative Lutheran Association, which slowly emerged as a separate Lutheran denomination. Lutherans Alert National has survived as the apologetics division of the larger World Association. Missions and social concerns are now handled by Lutheran World Concerns.
In 2002 there were 1,267 members and 29 clergy in three churches.
Faith Evangelical Theological Seminary, Tacoma, Washington.
Faith Evangelical Theological Seminary and Biblical Institute, Northridge, California.
Lutherans Alert National.
“Oklahoma Church Leaves LCA.” Christian News (October 5, 1987): 1, 22.
383 Jarvis St., Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2C7
The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (Abroad) was instated in 1944 as a continuation of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in the free world after the occupation of Estonia by Communist forces of the former U.S.S.R. It was to serve Estonian Lutherans who fled their country at that time. Internationally, the church is organized into seven synods. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches, and the Council of European Churches.
In the years following World War II Estonians scattered to North and South America and Australia, where they formed congregations and, later, synods and a unified church. This international church body is overseen by an archbishop and the consistory—previously in Stockholm, Sweden, and since 1991 in Toronto, Canada. The church is conservative, holding the Book of Concord (including the unaltered Augsburg Confession) as its standard of faith.
Since the collapse of the former U.S.S.R. in 1991, firm steps have been taken to unite the church in Estonia and that in the West.
In 2002 the church reported 24 congregations, about 5,000 members, and 18 pastors in the United States; and 15 congregations, 4,500 members, and 12 pastors in Canada.
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (Abroad). www.eelk.ee/eng_EELCabroad.html.
Bachmann, Mercia Brenne. Lutheran Missionary Directory. Geneva, Switzerland: Lutheran World Federation, 1982.
We Bless You from the House of the Lord. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Today. Tallinn, Estonia: Consistory of the EELC, 1997.
8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4101
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1988; ELCA) was formed January 1, 1988, by the merger of the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. This merger created not only the nation’s largest Lutheran body, but its fifth-largest denomination. Through the lineage of the Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continues the work of the earliest Lutheran organizations in the United States: the Philadelphia Ministerium (1748) and the New York Ministerium (1786). It also culminates a process begun in the first half of the nineteenth century of merging diverse American Lutheran churches and synods so as to unite Lutherans.
The Lutheran Church in America, the largest body merging into the ELCA, was formed in 1962 by the merger of four Lutheran bodies: the United Lutheran Church in America, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Soumi Synod), the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, which for most of its life was known simply as the Augustana Synod. The 1962 merger was the culmination of no fewer than eight previous mergers, the most significant of which was the 1918 merger of the General Synod, the General Council, and the General Synod of the South to form the United Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran body through most of the twentieth century. The General Synod had in turn been created by the 1820 merger of the older Lutheran associations: the Philadelphia Ministerium, part of the New York Ministerium, and the North Carolina Synod. The membership of the churches in the United Lutheran Church in America tradition was primarily German-American.
Lutheran immigrants established the Synod of Illinois in the Midwest in 1851. Around 1860 the Swedish and Norwegian elements of that synod withdrew and formed the Scandinavian Augustana Synod. That synod joined with the remainder of the New York Ministerium in 1867 to form the very loosely associated General Council. In 1918, when the General Council merged into the United Lutheran Church in America, the Augustana Synod refused to join in the merger and remained an independent body until 1962.
The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, formed in 1890 in Calumet, Michigan, used the liturgy of the Church of Finland. The American Evangelical Lutheran Church dates to 1872, when Danish-American Lutherans formed the Kirklig Missions Forening. Through the merger of these Finnish and Danish synods into the larger German, Swedish, and Norwegian bodies, the Lutheran Church in America became the most complete amalgamation of Lutherans across ethnic boundaries and heralded the Americanization of Lutheran immigrant communities (a process through which all immigrant communities in America must eventually pass).
Another body entering into the 1988 merger, the American Lutheran Church, was formed in 1960 by the merger of three Lutheran bodies: the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the American Lutheran Church (1930–1960). The merged church retained the name of the group formed in 1930 by the merger of the Ohio (1818), Buffalo (1845), Texas (1851), and Iowa (1845) synods, all of which were of German background. The United Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1896 by the union of two separate synods of Danish background. Pastors seceding from the Norwegian-Danish Conference of 1870 formed the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Association in 1884; a group that had withdrawn from the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (which eventually merged into the Lutheran Church in America) created the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1894. The Evangelical Lutheran Church was the result of a merger in 1917 of the different Norwegian Lutheran bodies established in America in the nineteenth century: the United Norwegian Church, the Norwegian Synod, and the Hauge Synod. The American Lutheran Church was the first major merger of Lutheran groups across ethnic lines. In 1963 the Lutheran Free Church also joined the ALC.
The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the newest and the smallest of the bodies to enter into the 1988 merger, was formed in 1976 by ministers and congregations that withdrew from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The formation of the association followed many years of increased tensions within the Missouri Synod, spurred by a series of complaints by conservative members about what was seen as a liberal drift within the church. Conservatives demanded the withdrawal of pulpit and altar fellowship from the American Lutheran Church. (Pulpit fellowship refers to the practice of exchanging ministers between congregations for Sunday morning worship. Altar fellowship refers to the acceptance of members from other church bodies during Holy Communion.) Further, conservatives asked for the end of cooperation with both the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America in the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. Most important, they demanded an investigation of the Concordia Theological Seminary, whose faculty, they alleged, was teaching doctrine contrary to official synod standards. Among the key items to which they objected was the teaching of modern biblical criticism, which, some claimed, compromised belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.
The question of the synod’s ability to control teaching at the seminary came to a head in 1972. J. A. O. Preus, president of the Missouri Synod, issued a report accusing some of the seminary faculty members of teaching false doctrines, singling out seminary president John Tietjen for particular criticism. This action further polarized the two visible parties in the synod, and the conservative group increased its demands that the synod enforce doctrinal standards, particularly a literal interpretation of the Bible. The liberals, whose strength centered on the seminary, insisted on greater freedom to interpret the Bible and teach theology. Following a defeat at the 1973 meeting of the synod, the liberals organized Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM). Early in 1974 Tietjen was suspended as president of Concordia. In reaction, 43 of the 47 professors went on strike; three-fourths of the student body supported them, voting to boycott classes. After leaving Concordia, the faculty and students established Concordia Seminary in Exile (popularly known as Seminex). ELIM supported the new seminary and prepared itself to remain as a liberal dissenting group within the synod.
Over the next two years polarization continued, as conservatives, then in control of the synod, pressed for total conformity with traditional doctrinal standards and threatened removal of voices of dissent. The liberals fought a defensive action until 1976, when, feeling that they could no longer remain in the fellowship, they left to form the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. While retaining the formal doctrinal standards of the Missouri Synod, the new church emphasized openness, diversity, and ecumenism. It immediately established pulpit and altar fellowship with the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America, which the church leaders saw as merely a first step to the realization of complete union.
Lutheran work began in Canada in the 1740s, and for many decades the Canadian work was affiliated with the American synods and churches. Congregations affiliated with the American Lutheran Church became an independent body in 1967, and those affiliated with the Lutheran Church in America became an independent body in 1986. (For more on the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, see separate entry.)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It also confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. It accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life. It accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of its faith, and it accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confessions as a true witness to the Gospel. It accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
The congregations, synods, and churchwide organization are interdependent partners of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The church is governed by a biennial Churchwide Assembly and, in the interim, a Church Council, which serves as the board of directors. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is headed by a presiding bishop. The church is divided into 65 synods, each headed by a bishop. The publishing ministry of the church is Augsburg Fortress, Publishers. The church is a member of the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and other ecumenical and interreligious conciliar bodies.
In 1997 the ELCA voted to establish full-communion relationships, which foster joint ministries and allow the exchange of pulpits by clergy and the sharing of the sacraments by members with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the Reformed Church in America. In 1999 full-communion relationships were established with the Episcopal Church and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. In 2007 the Eastern West Indies Province entered into a full-communion relationship with the ELCA. In 2005 a relationship of interim Eucharistic sharing was established with the United Methodist Church.
In 2006 the ELCA reported 4,774,205 baptized members, as well as 2,256,700 communing and contributing members, 10,470 congregations, and 17,655 clergy.
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina.
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California.
Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.
Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Colleges and Universities:
Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.
Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas.
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California.
Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.
Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota.
Dana College, Blair, Nebraska.
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa.
Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota.
Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, North Carolina.
Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.
Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Nebraska.
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina.
Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington.
Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia.
St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota.
Finlandia University, Hancock, Michigan.
Susquehanna University, Selingrove, Pennsylvania.
Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, Texas.
Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania.
Wagner College, Staten Island, New York.
Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa.
Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa.
Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio.
The Lutheran. • Lutheran Partners. • Lutheran Women Today. • Seeds for the Parish.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. www.elca.org/.
Alman, Lowell G. One Great Cloud of Witnesses!: You and Your Congregation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1997.
Anderson, H. George; Herbert W. Chilstrom; and Mark S. Hanson. Living Together as Lutherans: Unity within Diversity. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2008.
Bachmann, E. Theodore, with Mercia Brenne Bachmann. The History of the United Lutheran Church in America, 1918–1962. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997.
Chilstrom, Herbert W. Foundations for the Future. Minneapolis: Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1988.
Nichol, Todd W. All Those Lutherans. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986.
Trexler, Edgar R. Anatomy of a Merger: People, Dynamics, and Decisions That Shaped the ELCA. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1991.
———. High Expectations: Understanding the ELCA’s Early Years, 1988–2002. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2003.
302–393 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3B 3H6
Lutheranism in Canada dates to the last half of the eighteenth century, when German Lutherans began to migrate into Nova Scotia. Periodic migrations, especially from America in the nineteenth century, led to the formation of Canadian parishes attached to what became two of the three largest American Lutheran bodies, the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America. The American Lutheran Church, formed in 1960 by a merger of several Lutheran bodies, began an immediate process of facilitating the Canadian congregations’autonomy. They became fully autonomous in 1967 as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada. In 1986 that church merged with the three Canadian synods of the Lutheran Church in America to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. This merger anticipated the 1988 merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1988).
The new Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada retains a formal working relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, providing for the exchange of pastors and complete altar and pulpit fellowship. The church meets in convention every two years. Foreign work is supported in Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, El Salvador, and Papua New Guinea. The church is a member of the Canadian Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the Lutheran World Federation. It also responds to poverty in the world through the Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA) and support international community development projects and programs through Canadian Lutheran World Relief.
In 2008 the church reported 182,077 baptized members and 620 congregations.
Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Augustana University College, Camrose, Alberta, Canada.
Luther College, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute, Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Canada Lutheran • E-Communique • Healing and Hope • The Steward
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. www.elcic.ca.
Synod of Alberta and the Territories, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. www.albertasynod.ca.
Cronmiller, Carl R. A History of the Lutheran Church in Canada. Toronto: Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada, 1961.
c/o Rt. Rev. James D. Heiser, Salem Lutheran Church, 718 HCR 3424 E, Malone, TX 76660
The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America was founded in 2006 by a group of ministers who had withdrawn from the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. They sought to restore and advance a “consistently Evangelical Lutheran doctrine and practice in harmony with the Sacred Scriptures and the Book of Concord (1580).” At their initial gathering they accepted the idea of episcopal leadership, and chose Pastor James Heiser as the diocesan bishop. Although they accept the leadership of a bishop, the diocese continues to follow the congregational polity of the Missouri Synod. By their definition, the diocese consists of the ministerial members. Congregations remain independent even as they are being served by the diocese’s ministers.
The diocese remains a conservative Lutheran body that follows the perspective of the Missouri Synod. It had no doctrinal disagreement with the synod apart from concern about a certain lack of consistency with regard to doctrine and practice. In that regard, the diocese practices closed communion, does not allow ordination of women, and disavows altar fellowship with those churches who are members of the Lutheran World Federation. It also has sought to avoid any adoption of Eastern Orthodox practices not in agreement with the teachings of the Book of Concord.
In 2008 the diocese’s nine pastors served churches scattered around the United States.
Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America. web.mac.com/hunnius/ELDoNA/Welcome.html.
6 Browns Ct., Mankato, MN 56001
The Evangelical Lutheran Synod was formed at Lake Mills, Iowa, in 1918 by a group of 40 pastors and laymen (the conservative wing of Norwegian Lutherans) who declined to enter the merger of other Norwegian Lutherans, deciding instead to establish an independent synod. The name Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church was adopted. The present name was assumed in 1957. In 1920 it was received into the conservative-oriented Lutheran Synodical Conference, but withdrew along with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in 1963. It rejects fellowship with all who deny the essence of Lutheran belief.
Doctrine is the same as the Lutheran consensus with a conservative interpretation (similar to the Wisconsin Synod), and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod has in the past used the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods’seminaries for training its ministers. It is congregational in polity. Resolutions passed by the synod are not binding until sent to the congregations for acceptance. The officers of the synod direct the work of common interest. Home missions are conducted in nine states. Foreign mission work is conducted in Peru, Chile, South Korea, India, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and the Ukraine.
In 2006, the synod reported 20,559 members, 138 congregations, and 172 ministers.
Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minnesota.
Centro Cristiano Seminary, Lima, Peru.
Lutheran Sentinel. Available from Box 185, Albert Lea, MN 56007. • Lutheran Synod Quarterly. Available from Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, 6 Browns Ct., Mankato, MN 56001.
PO Box 10317, Brookville, FL 34603
The Evangelical Marian Catholic Church is a small independent Catholic jurisdiction that draws upon Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Lutheran traditions. It is led by its archbishop metropolitan, Most Rev. Anthony J. M. Burns of Child Jesus. The church accepts the ancient creeds of the Christian church and affirms the teachings of the Church Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils. It also accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (1530) and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (from the Lutheran Book of Concord), while interpreting them in the light of what it considers authentic Catholic faith and tradition.
While recognizing the primacy of the pope, the church is administratively independent. It looks toward ultimate union with the Roman Catholic Church, and to that end has joined the Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion. Affiliated with the church is a ordered community, the Order of St. Ninian.
In 2008 the church reported one parish in Florida and one in Missouri.
Evangelical Marian Catholic Church. www.evmcc.org/.
320 Erie St., Oak Park, IL 60302
The Fellowship of Lutheran Congregations is a small Lutheran body founded in 1979 by former pastors and members of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod who objected to what they saw as liberal trends in the Synod. The group is doctrinally aligned to the Missouri Synod, but adheres to a strict conservative interpretation of the Lutheran doctrinal confessions. Churches are located primarily in Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota.
In 1998 there were five congregations, six ministers, and approximately 600 members.
PO Box 5184, West Columbia, SC 29171
The General Conference Evangelical Protestant Church/Evangelical Lutheran Protestant Church was founded in 1999 by a small group of independent Lutheran ministers and churches who saw themselves as reorganizing the Evangelical Protestant Church of North America. The Evangelical Protestant Church of North American had been organized originally in 1885 as an informal fellowship of German-American Lutheran congregations in the Ohio Valley who were opposed to the liberal trends beginning to dominate German and American Lutheran seminaries and denominational bodies. The church was more formally organized in 1912, but the association declined in the decades after World War I. It eventually ceased to exist, and its member congregations identified with other synods. The new General Conference emerged from several parishes that traced their roots to the former Evangelical Protestant Church.
The founders of the new General Conference concluded that the Lutheran denominations with which they had been affiliated previously had become theologically and morally liberal. They rejected debates concerning the gender of God, any questioning of the divinity of Jesus, and any erosion of the authority of the Bible. The General Conference accepts the writings included in the Book of Concord as its doctrinal base, and from them it has developed its Statement of Faith and Core Beliefs. The General Conference is open to ordaining women to the ministry, but is opposed to ordaining practicing homosexuals. It does not allow ministers to officiate at civil unions of gay or lesbian couples.
The General Conference is led by its presiding bishop, Most Rev. Nancy Drew, and its board of advisors and synod of bishops. The church is organized into three synods in the United States, and its international synod includes churches in Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The General Conference was briefly disrupted in 2004 when several of its bishops accepted the opportunity to be reconsecrated in a ceremony that would provide them with apostolic succession. The bishops of the General Conference, like most Lutheran bishops, do not have apostolic succession (as defined within Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox circles). Following the ceremony, the two bishops left the General Conference and participated in the founding of the Orthodox Lutheran Church.
Concordia Theologica Institute for Biblical Studies.
Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church. www.orgsites.com/pa/lutheranepc/.
No central headquarters. For information: Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, Pr. Robert E. Sempert, Jr., 2969 David Rd., Midland, MI 48640
The beginnings of the Illinois Lutheran Conference can be traced to 1970, when two pastors of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Wayne A. Popp (d. 2007) of Sauk Village, Illinois, and Richard W. Shekner of Tinley Park, Illinois, were suspended from speaking on the Lutheran Heritage Hour radio broadcast. They were attempting to advocate the superiority of the King James Version (1611) of the Bible relative to more recent translations. Pastor Popp subsequently resigned from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (1970). Pastor Shekner remained in the synod but was finally suspended in 1974. The congregations served by the two men also withdrew from the synod. In 1971 the pair launched the Lutheran Reformation Hour over WYCA in Hammond, Indiana. This broadcast became the means of contacting other Lutheran ministers of like mind.
Toward the end of 1978, representatives from Gloria Dei Evangelical Lutheran Church (Tinley Park, Ill.), Our Savior’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Morris, Ill.), and St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Sauk Village, Ill.) attended meetings that laid the foundation for what was to become the Illinois Lutheran Conference, which was organized formally in 1979. The new Conference continues the conservative Lutheran perspective of the Wisconsin synod, and is distinguished primarily by its use of the King James version of the Bible.
The Lutheran Reformation Hour remains the primary pan-congregational activity supported by the Conference.
In 2008 the Conference reported seven congregations located in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, and Wisconsin, served by four pastors.
Lutheran Theological Studies Center.
Illinois Lutheran Conference Journal.
Illinois Lutheran Conference. www.illinoislutheranconference.org/index.htm.
c/o The Rev.d. Dr Robert W. Hotes, President/Presiding Bishop, 1124 S Fifth St., LL-C, Springfield, IL 62703
The International Lutheran Fellowship (ILF) was founded in 1967 in Fargo, North Dakota.
Following the precepts of holy scripture and the Lutheran Book of Concord, the ILF seeks to provide ministry to those who wish to maintain a Lutheran identity within the universal Christian (catholic) church. Following amendments to the ILF Constitution in 1994, under the influence of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the ecclesiastical polity was reorganized to observe the historic apostolic succession of bishops and maintain the clerical offices of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, as a mark of the universal Christian church in the Lutheran understanding.
As of January 2008, the church reported 65 bishops, pastors, deacons, and teachers in the active directory of clergy and more than 1,000 active individual members. The organization supports active ministries in eleven countries and states worldwide including California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee in the United States; Nova Scotia, Ontario, and the North West Territories, Canada; India, Uganda, Liberia, Republic of Singapore, Thailand, and Venezuela. They meet monthly to fellowship within the various geographical locations of service and annually as a collective body or synod.
279 N Medina St., Ste. 150, Loretto, MN 55357
The Laestadian Lutheran Church takes its name from Lars Levi Laestadius, a Lutheran pastor who served in northern Sweden from 1825 to 1861. In 1844 Laestadius encountered Milla Clementsdotter, a member of a revival movement, who guided him toward acceptance of the living faith. His sermons began to inspire a new fervor, and a revival movement soon spread beyond Swedish Lapland.
Finnish immigrants brought the movement to North America in the 1860s. Congregations were first formally organized in Cokato, Minnesota, in 1872 and Calumet, Michigan, in 1873. After 1890 the movement underwent several schisms over the understanding of justification, God’s congregation, and the sacraments. The last division prompted the establishment of the Association of American Laestadian Congregations (AALC) on June 9, 1973. The association changed its name in 1995 Laestadian Lutheran Church (LLC) to better convey its spiritual heritage and the nature of its organization.
The teachings of Laestadianism, in accord with the Lutheran Confessions, hold that the Bible is the highest guide and authority for Christian faith, doctrine, and life. At the center is the sermon of Jesus’suffering, death, and victorious resurrection. Laestadians believe the work of Jesus Christ continues in this world as the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s congregation. The church preaches repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
In March 2008 the church reported 2,500 members in 32 congregations served by 85 ministers. There are affiliated churches in Canada and several European countries, including Finland, Sweden, Norway, England, Germany, and Russia, as well as in Ecuador, Togo, Ghana, and Kenya. In North America the highest concentrations of members are in Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Michigan, and Saskatchewan.
The Voice of Zion. • Shepherd’s Voice.
Laestadian Lutheran Church. www.laestadianlutheran.org/.
1853 N. 75th St., Milwaukee, WI 53213
The Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) after World War II placed minority Lutheran churches in a precarious position. Latvian nationals who had fled Communist rule and refugees who had left during the war and felt unable to return established a church-in-exile with headquarters in Germany. Latvian Lutherans in the United States organized in 1957 as the Federation of Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America. The churches reorganized in 1975 to become the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It served as the American constituent point of the Lutheran Church of Latvia in Exile; when Latvia regained independence in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the church changed its name to the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad. The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America supports the School of Theology at the University of Latvia in Riga, Latvia, by providing financial support to raise faculty salaries and sponsoring guest lecturers from the United States and Canada.
The Latvian Lutheran Church follows Lutheran doctrine and affirms the three ancient creeds (Apostles, Nicean, and Athanasian), as well as the unaltered Augsburg Confession, Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, and the other parts of the Book of Concord.
The synod, presided over by the church’s president, meets every three years.
In 2007 the church reported about 7,900 members in 45 congregations served by 39 ministers in the United States; 3,100 members, 13 congregations, and 9 ministers in Canada; and, in South America, one congregation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one in São Paulo, Brazil, and one in Caracas, Venezuela, with a total of about 150 members.
Cela Bîedrs. • LELBA Ziņas.
Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. www.lelba.org/.
c/o Acting Bishop Valdas Ausra, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 9000 S Menard Ave., Oak Lawn, IL 60453
International address: Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church, c/o Bp. Jonas Kalvanas, J. Tumo-Vaiganto 50, LT-5900 Taurage, Lithuania.
Lutheranism entered Lithuania early in the sixteenth century as the Reformation spread, and it eventually found support among the country’s nobility. By the end of the sixteenth century the country had become predominantly Protestant, and then it returned to Catholicism as the Counter Reformation appeared in force. Lutheranism continued as a minority faith. In 1590 Jonas Bretkunas (Johannes Bretke) (1536–1602) completed the translation of the Bible to Lithuanian. When the country came under Russian control in the nineteenth century, the church’s synod and consistory were abolished (1832) and the Lutheran parishes incorporated into a Russian-based judicatory. (Other parts of the country were under German and Polish control.) Lithuania finally regained its independence in 1918, and the northern part of Lithuania reunited five years later. However, different parts of Lutheranism remained under different jurisdictions until 1955, when the modern Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania was constituted.
Because of World War II and because Lithuania had been incorporated into the Soviet Union, beginning in 1940 many Lithuanians fled to the west. After 1944 large numbers of Lutheran lay people and nearly all the pastors found asylum in the west. A constituting synod formed the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile in 1946 in Germany. Subsequently, the headquarters movement to the United States.
Meanwhile, the remnant church in Lithuania reconstituted a consistory in 1950. An initial synod was held in 1955, the first since World War II. Both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Exile are members of the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches.
In 2006 the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora had about 1,500 members. In Lithuania, in 2001 the church had 55 parishes served by about 25 clergy.
Ausra, Valdas. “Lithuanian Lutherans in North America.” Litunas: Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences 42, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 5–18.
Bachmann, E. Theodore, and Mercia Brenne Bachmann. Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1989.
3074 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3K 0Y2
In 1988 the former Canadian districts of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod were set apart as an autonomous body that took the name the Lutheran Church–Canada. The synod’s ministry in Canada began with the arrival of Johann Adam Ernst (1817–1882) in Ontario in the 1850s as an outreach of the parish he was serving in Eden, New York. Among the early churches he founded was St. Peter’s congregation at Rhineland and the Holy Ghost congregation near Fisherville. The work grew by the affiliation of both previously formed and new congregations, culminating in 1879 in the formation of the Canadian district, with Ernst as the first president. Work soon followed in western Canada, and by the early twentieth century four districts had been founded. In 1959 a federation of the Canadian districts was created, a step toward the autonomy granted in 1988.
The Lutheran Church–Canada is as one in doctrine with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and follows its conservative perspective on the Lutheran tradition. It has a congregational polity, and a convention meets triennially.
The Lutheran Church–Canada has affiliated work in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Ukraine.
As of December 31, 2006, the Lutheran Church–Canada reported 74,443 members, 322 congregations, and 375 clergy.
Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta.
Concordia University College of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario.
The Canadian Lutheran, Box 163, Sta. A, Winnipeg, MB, R3K 1A1, Canada.
Lutheran Church–Canada. www.lutheranchurch.ca/index.html.
Cronmiller, Carl Raymond. A History of the Lutheran Church in Canada. Toronto: Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Canada, 1961.
Threinen, Norman J. A Religious-Cultural Mosaic: A History of Lutherans in Canada. Vulcan, AB: Today’s Reformation Press, 2006.
International Center, 1333 S Kirkwood Rd., St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
Of the largest Lutheran bodies, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, often called simply the Missouri Synod, is by far the most conservative. In 1839 a group of Saxon Lutherans fleeing the rationalism that had captured the Lutheran Church in Germany arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. They eventually settled south of St. Louis, Missouri, on a large tract of land in Perry County. They were led by the Rev. Martin Stephan (1777–1846), who had been elected bishop. Also among the group was Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811–1887), a young Lutheran minister. Soon after settling in Perry County, Stephan was banished when the colonists discovered he had misappropriated funds and engaged in sexual misconduct.
After Stephan’s banishment, Walther became the acknowledged leader. He fought what he felt were the theological errors of Stephan’s preaching, particulary the beliefs that the Lutheran Church was the one church, without which there was no salvation; that the ministry was a mediatorship between God and man, hence, ministers were entitled to obedience in all things, even matters not treated by God’s Word; and that questions of doctrine were to be decided by the clergy alone. Walther helped found the small school in Altenburg, Missouri, that eventually became Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. In 1841 he went to St. Louis as pastor and in 1844 began to publish the Lutheraner, which, issue after issue, championed orthodox Lutheranism as opposed to rationalism (a reliance on reason instead of faith). Articles in the Lutheraner fought for the rights and responsibility of the congregation in the church. In 1847 the Missouri Synod was founded on the principle of the autonomy of the congregation. There were 14 congregations and 22 ministers.
The synod had been joined by some Franconians in Michigan and Hanoverians in Indiana. Over the years, they were joined by other small synods, including the Illinois Synod (1880) and the English Synod of Missouri (1911). In 1963 the National Evangelical Lutheran Church merged into the Missouri Synod. In 1971 the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches joined the Missouri Synod as one of its districts.
Doctrinally, significant differences exist between the Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the other large American Lutheran body, particularly concerning ordination of women. Polity is congregational. The nodical convention meets triennially. There are 35 districts represented. The convention elects a president and oversees the vast institutional and missional program. There are two seminaries (including Concordia in St. Louis) and 10 colleges and universities in the United States. A number of hospitals and homes dot the nation.
LCMS World Mission works with partner church bodies and emerging church bodies worldwide. They have active work or mission relationships in approximately 85 countries. International fields are divided into four regions, including Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America.
In 1996 the Missouri Synod reported 2,601,730 members in 6,099 congregations. There were 8,215 pastors and 8,735 teachers.
Christ College, Irvine, California.
Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Concordia College, Austin, Texas.
Concordia College, Bronxville, New York.
Concordia University, Irvine, California.
Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin.
Concordia College, Portland, Oregon.
Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois.
Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Concordia College, Selma, Alabama.
Concordia College, Seward, Nebraska.
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
The Lutheran Witness. • Reporter.
During the 1960s the Missouri Synod was racked with doctrinal controversy that focused on differing views about how the Bible can be considered the Word of God. The conservatives believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God and interpret it quite literally. The more liberal members consider the Bible to bear the Word of God, that is, Jesus Christ, to the church, and, as such, to be properly the object of historical criticism.
In the end (and for the first time in the twentieth century), the conservative viewpoint prevailed, but only after a decade of discussion. As a result, 200 of the 6,100 congregations, representative of the liberal faction, left the synod to form the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, which in 1988 merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. www.lcms.org.
Arndt, W. Fundamental Christian Beliefs. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1938.
Graebner, A. Half a Century of True Lutheranism. Chattanooga, TN: J. A. Fredrich, n.d.
The Lutheran Annual 1986. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing Company, n.d.
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Handbook. St. Louis, MO: Author, n.d.
Meyer, Carl S. A Brief Historical Sketch of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1938.
A Week in the Life of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1996.
4014 Wenonah Ln., Fort Wayne, IN 46809
In 1964, several congregations in the Midwest (formerly a part of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod) joined to form the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation. These congregations had protested what they considered the growing theological liberalism of the Missouri Synod. They follow the doctrine and life of their parent body but take a conservative position on doctrinal questions. The organization supports active ministries in Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, and Sri Lanka.
As of 2008, the church reported sixteen clergy serving fifteen congregations and about 1,000 members.
Martin Luther Institute of Sacred Studies, Decatur, Indiana.
One Accord. • The Faithful Word.
No central headquarters. For information:, William Sullivan, Service Coordinator, 7000 Sheldon Road, Canton, MI 48187
Lutheran Congregations in Mission to Christ (LCMC) was founded in March 2001 by pastors and congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Their association was prompted by their mutual rejection of the provisions of an agreement that had been hammered out by the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. The agreement embodied in a report, “Called to Common Mission,” made provisions for the ELCA bishops to accept consecration (in some cases reconsecration) in a lineage with valid apostolic succession. Those who formed the LCMC rejected the idea of apostolic succession for Lutherans. They also held to a generally more conservative theological stance than the ELCA, focusing on the various Lutheran confessional documents.
The LCMC as originally conceived was to be a “postdenominational” association of churches and ministers that evolved into a new denomination with a congregational polity. In the beginning, several congregations remained within the ELCA, and the LCMC made provisions for double affiliation. Subsequently, some congregations also affiliated with the Augsburg Lutheran Churches, another new denomination founded for reasons similar to the LCMC’s.
Member churches meet in an annual gathering where fellowship business is conducted. They also sponsor an annual youth gathering and leadership conference.
In 2008 LCMC reported 213 affiliated congregations, of which 153 were in the United States. The rest were scattered in seven countries.
Schools recognized by Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ are:
Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Independent Lutheran Theological Education Project (ILTEP), Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The Master’s Institute Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
North American Baptist Seminary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Salt Lake Theological Seminary, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. www.lcmc.net/.
c/o St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2837 E. New York St., Indianapolis, IN 46201
The Lutheran Ministerium and Synod–USA originated out of the concerns of members of the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC, formed in 1987) that pentecostalism was seeping into the church’s life. Among the most concerned were Prs. John Erickson, Christ Lutheran Church (Chetek, Wisconsin), Ralph Spears, St. Matthew Lutheran Church (Indianapolis, Indiana), and Richard Hueter, Community Lutheran Church (McAllister, Wisconsin). The three called a meeting of fellow pastors to discuss the matter.
At that meeting, held October 7, 1993, Erickson argued that the new denomination’s attempt to unite Orthodox, Evangelical, and Charismatic Lutherans in a single church was not working. Shortly after the meeting, new issues arose about the charismatic influence at the AALC’s seminary. This brought Pr. Donald Thorson of Christ Lutheran Church (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin) and Rev. Roy Steward of Altoona, Pennsylvania, to the group of concerned church leaders. The 1994 AALC Convention, however, proved unresponsive to their concerns.
As a next step, the six pastors and their churches organized a conference in Indianapolis on the subject of the inerrancy of Scripture. Subsequently, in 1995, several of the congregations withdrew from the AALC. The pastors and their churches began to discuss the formation of a new church body that would be moderate to middle conservative, confessional, liturgical, and nonhierarchical. These plans bore fruit swiftly with the formation of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod–USA (LMS–USA). Of the first group of concerned pastors, Prs. Erickson, Spears, and Steward adhered to the new church, and brought along Erickson’s Christ Lutheran Church and Spears’s St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
The new church adopted a conservative Lutheran theological perspective and affirmed its belief that “the Lutheran Confessions and the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 are the correct exposition of the teaching of Holy Scripture.” It adopted a congregational form of church government and affirmed that the church should be self-governing and hold title to its property. The LMS–USA is limited in its authority, but can advise and recommend. The church also adopted a lengthy statement refuting what it saw as the errors of pentecostalism.
The work of the churches collectively is carried forward by the synod, which meet annually. The pastors collective also meet annually and advise on theological matters. The highest offices in the church are the president of the ministerium and chairman of the synod.
Lutheran Ministerium and Synod–USA. www.lmsusa.org
c/o St. Paul’s Lutheran Orthodox Chapel, PO Box 74, Neffs, PA 18065
The Lutheran Orthodox Church (also known as the the Catholic Church—Lutheran Rite) was founded by two former bishops and some lay members of the General Conference Evangelical Protestant Church. Like most Lutheran bishops, the General Conference bishops did not have apostolic succession as generally defined in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. In 2004 several of its bishops were offered the opportunity to be reconsecrated with a valid apostolic succession in a ceremony presided over by Swedish archbishop Bertil Persson, presiding bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Order of Corporate Reunion. Bps. Samuel Guido and Raymond Copp accepted the invitation, and along with Bp. Tan Binh Phan Nguyen of the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches, were consecrated on July 11, 2004. Additional Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican bishops attended and passed their lineage to the new bishops.
From that consecration ceremony, the new Orthodox Lutheran Church emerged as a small, conservative Lutheran body that continues the emphases of the General Conference Evangelical Protestant Church. It believes that most Lutheran churches have deviated from the teachings of Martin Luther to the point that they are no longer Lutheran in any recognizable sense. The Orthodox Lutheran Church is also “Catholic” in style, and seeks an eventual alignment with the Roman Catholic Church, at least to the extent of having “communion” the pope (as the Eastern Orthodox Church currently does). The church will ordain women, but not practicing homosexuals.
The Orthodox Lutheran Church is led by its presiding bishop, Most Rev. Sam Guido, and a board of directors consisting of the thirteen archbishops who also constitute the Council of Bishops. Continuing a tradition found in many Old Catholic churches, most pastors are bivocational, drawing their income from secular jobs and serving their congregations for little or no salary. Affiliated parishes are found in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and India. The church has signed intercommunion agreements with the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the Athanasian Catholic Church of the Augsburg Confession, the Order of Corporate Reunion, and the Communion of Ante-Nicene Christian Fellowships.
Orthodox Lutheran Church. www.orgsites.com/pa/lutheranorthodox/.
No central headquarters. For information: Augsburg Lutheran Church, 1200 N. Lily Pl., Sioux Falls, SD 57103
The Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference of Independent Congregations was formed in 2006 by five congregations who left the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, which had declared that it was granting women the right to vote in congregational meetings. The pastors and members of the five congregations rejected the change as unbiblical, and sought to form a true biblical fellowship. In most respects, the new Conference resembles it parent body.
The small coalition of congregations that make up the Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference maintain a loose association. They have found some wider fellowship with the congregations of the Association of Confessional Lutheran Churches, whom they meet in an annual conference. These annual “free conferences” were designed to explore relationships with other congregations and synods who shared the Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference’s beliefs and practices.
In 2008 there were five congregations scattered in five midwestern states.
Orthodox Lutheran Confessional Conference of Independent Congregations. www.olccic.org/.
1035 Beacon St., San Pedro, CA 90731
The Norwegian Seaman’s Mission was founded in 1864 in Bergen, Norway, to provide mission centers in port cities around the world. Such centers offer a Christian witness and a homelike atmosphere for Norwegian sailors in foreign lands. In many cites the missions also have developed into community and worship centers for first-generation Norwegians in foreign lands. The number of centers worldwide reached a peak in the nineteenth century, but more recently some of the centers, such as the one in Philadelphia, have closed. The one in San Pedro, California, opened in 1941. The missions provide services in accordance with the practices of the Church of Norway, the state Lutheran church.
Gabriel, Judy. “A Refuge for Scandinavian Seamen.” Los Angeles Times, December 22, 1985.
2929 N Mayfair Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53222-4398
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS, or popularly called the Wisconsin Synod) was established in response to calls for pastoral service from German immigrants to Wisconsin in the 1840s. Ministers answered the call, and in May 1850 the First German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin was organized under the direction of President John Muelhaeuser at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee (Granville), Wisconsin.
In the 1840s a Michigan Synod had also been organized among the Wuerttembergers by Stephan Koehler and Christoph Eberhardt. A Minnesota Synod was organized by “Father” J. C. F. Heyer and others in 1860. The Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota Synods became conservative theologically, staunch defenders of Lutheran doctrine against the “compromises” of the larger bodies. In 1892, after all three had joined the Lutheran Synodical Conference, they federated to form the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. A merger in 1917 led to the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States. The present name was adopted in 1959.
Characterized as doctrinally conservative, the Wisconsin Synod accepts the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. It maintains doctrinal fellowship with one other U.S.-based church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod based in Minnesota. It also is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, an organization of 20 church bodies around the world.
The synod meets biennially. It is divided into 12 districts spread across the nation, though membership is concentrated in Wisconsin and the Midwest. There is a network of 343 Lutheran elementary schools, 400 early childhood ministries, two synodical preparatory high schools, 23 area Lutheran high schools, a college, and a seminary. Northwestern Publishing House in Milwaukee publishes books, Sunday school literature, and religious materials. A vigorous mission program is supported both at home and abroad. WELS conducts cross-cultural ministry in the United States and Canada among Apache, Hispanics, Hmong, Indo-Caribbeans, Japanese, Koreans, Navajo, Sudanese, and Vietnamese. Foreign mission endeavors are supported in Albania, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Zambia.
WELS has an affiliated television broadcast called Time of Grace, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 2007 the Wisconsin Synod reported 394,264 members in the United States and Canada (with an additional 78,976 in foreign mission fields), in 1,276 congregations served by 1,297 ministers.
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin.
Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota.
Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Forward in Christ. • Mission Connection. • Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. Send orders to 1250 N 113th St., Milwaukee, WI 53226-3284.
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. www.wels.net.
Braun, John A. Together in Christ. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 2000.
Brug, John F. WELS and Other Lutheran: Lutheran Church Bodies in the USA. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1995.
Continuing in Word. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, .
Frederich, Edward C. The Wisconsin Synod Lutherans. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1992.
This We Believe. N.p., 1967. Pamphlet.
"Lutheran Churches." Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lutheran-churches-0
"Lutheran Churches." Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lutheran-churches-0
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