ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 11, 2010
ELCA Now Fourth Largest Member Church of the LWF
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is now the fourth largest member church of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). For the first time in its history, the overall membership of churches belonging to the LWF has reached 70 million.
According to a March 11 report from Lutheran World Information (LWI) -- the LWF's information service -- the membership of Lutheran churches in Africa and Asia increased, while churches in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a slight decline.
The Church of Sweden is the largest member of the LWF with 6.75 million members, reported LWI. The second largest LWF member church is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania with more than 5.3 million members, and the third is the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus with more than 5.27 million.
In 2009 membership in churches belonging to the LWF in Africa rose by 7.1 percent to more than 18.5 million. LWF member churches in Africa that reported a substantial increase include churches in Angola, Mozambique and the Republic of Namibia.
The total number of Lutherans in Asia is more than 8.74 million, representing a 2.35 percent increase. The continent's largest Lutheran church is the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Indonesia) with more than 4.1 million members.
In North America the total membership of LWF churches fell by 1.95 percent to more than 4.78 million. The ELCA experienced a 1.8 percent decline for a total membership of 4.6 million.
Membership for Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean dropped by a mere 198 for a total of 837,692. The largest LWF member church in Latin America -- the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil -- reported no change in its total membership.
In Europe, the total membership of Lutheran churches grew to more than 37.1 million.
Germany continues to be the country with the largest number of Lutheran Christians in the world, reported LWI. The total number of Lutherans in Germany in 2009 was more than 12.9 million, reflecting an increase of 3.2 percent. This resulted from the merger of the Evangelical Church in Thuringia and the Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony to form the Evangelical Church in Central Germany.
Membership for the fifth largest LWF member church -- the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark -- dropped slightly for a total of more than 4.49 million. And membership for the sixth largest -- the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland -- also dropped slightly to more than 4.47 million members.
The LWF membership statistics are based on information received from the LWF member churches, recognized churches and congregations and councils, as well as from other Lutheran churches, organizations, mission bodies and congregations. The figures recorded for the year ending 2008 were used for churches that did not indicate any changes by the end of February 2010, according to LWI.
The LWF is a global communion of Christian services in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 79 countries all over the world, representing more than 70 million Lutheran Christians.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, is president of the LWF.
- - -
*Lutheran World Information provided the information for this report.
Information about the LWF is at http://www.lutheranworld.org on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org