This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Redeemer, and Advocate. • This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. • This church believes in the Word of God, and receives God’s Word in Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate; in proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel; and in the canonical Scriptures, the inspired and written Word of God, which provides the authoritative source and norm for proclamation, faith and life. • This church accepts the historic creeds (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian) as true declarations of the faith, and the Lutheran Confessions as faithful witnesses and interpretations of the faith. • This church is gathered around God’s Word and Sacraments, and its worship flows into witness and service that proclaims God’s love to this broken world. • This church, awash in God’s baptismal grace, creates a safe place for all of God’s children. • This church, knowing its unity in Christ and uniquely gifted for ecumenism by its confessions, works in God’s kingdom as a bridge-church for diverse traditions that share this faith. • This church maintains a deep and abiding commitment to ministry with children and youth. • This church engages in global mission with deep respect for the rich gifts of our brothers and sisters in other lands and so understands this mission engagement as primarily focused in accompaniment. • This church believes that the risen Christ is encountered daily in God’s world, and so we commit ourselves to be a public church, working for justice and peace for all. • This church continues a rich heritage of theological reflection and discernment and is dedicated to strong theological education in preparing leaders. • This church believes in the vocation of the baptized to ministry in daily life, translating Sunday’s faith into Monday’s world. • This church is committed to interdependence in its three expressions and as the vision for networks of mission agencies in the United States and throughout the world, including Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Lutheran Disaster Response, and the Lutheran World Federation.
This church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic church at that time. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the door of Wittenberg University, titled “95 Theses” (to debate 95 theological issues). His hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.
What started as an academic debate escalated into a distinct separation between the Roman Catholic church of the time and those who accepted Luther’s suggested reforms. "Lutheran" became the name of the group that agreed with Luther’s convictions.
Today, nearly five centuries later, Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by anything we do;
Our salvation is through faith alone -- we only need to trust God made known in Christ who promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
The Bible is the norm for faith and life -- the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
Over the years, different Lutheran church bodies have been established and organized to meet the needs of Lutherans in communities and nations all over the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest Lutheran group in North America, founded in 1988 when three North American Lutheran church bodies united: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.
Lutherans are part of a reforming movement within the whole Christian church; as a part of practicing their faith, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its predecessors have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with other church bodies for decades. In fact, the ELCA has entered into cooperative "full communion" agreements (sharing common convictions about theology, mission and worship) with several other Protestant denominations, including
the Moravian Church
The Episcopal Church
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
the Reformed Church in America
the United Church of Christ
The ELCA has an ongoing dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1999, representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. This represented a historic consensus on key issues of faith and called for further dialogue and study together.
Lutheranism is a faith tradition that is open to all, regardless of background. The ELCA alone is almost five million members strong, with nearly 10,500 congregations across the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We welcome you to learn more about our church and find out how we can help you along life’s path.
[from the ELCA Website]
Statements of Belief
Lutherans believe in the Triune God. God created and loves all of creation -- the earth and the seas and all of the world’s inhabitants. We believe that God's Son, Jesus Christ, transforms lives through his death on the cross and his new life, and we trust that God's Spirit is active in the world.
We are part of God’s unfolding plan. When we gather for worship, we connect with believers everywhere. When we study the Bible or hear God’s word in worship, we are drawn more deeply into God’s own saving story.
The convictions shared by Christians from many different traditions are expressed in statements of belief called creeds.
These ecumenical creeds that Lutherans affirm and use in worship confess the faith of the church through the ages and around the world.
The Confessions of Faith of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is part of our founding constitution. The ELCA accepts the following creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church: