Who is the ELCA?
Change the way you think about going to church
What if you could find a way to connect with your community? To make a difference in a practical, realistic way? To have something in your life — beyond the daily grind — that truly had meaning?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — the ELCA — may really change the way you think about church. Like many religious denominations, the ELCA is built around a strong belief in God, and through services, ministries, and education it provides a way for us to practice our faith, grow our relationship with God and experience God's grace in our lives.
The ELCA may change the way you think about church.
But the ELCA is also a church body — a group of Lutheran people — that shares a passion for making positive changes in the world. In fact, with over 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and nearly 5 million members, there's a good chance that you know someone who is a proud member of the ELCA.
A little bit of history
The ELCA started almost 20 years ago, a uniting of three separate Lutheran church bodies. So while the ELCA as an organization is relatively young, our roots in this country trace back through the mid-1600s, when early Lutherans came over from Europe, settling in the area now known as New York. Today, this church is organized in three expressions — a churchwide organization with offices in Chicago, 65 synods throughout the country, and our network of over 10,000 congregations. Each of these three interdependent parts works together to form the ELCA.
More significant than the structure of this church is its people, what they believe, and what they do. These individuals are committed to sharing their principles, their ideas, their values, and the boundless love of God, through more than just talk — through action.
Lutherans are called to share God's love with the world — and they do this in millions of small ways that add up to a big difference. It could be as simple as tutoring a child in an after-school program or as complex as working with the governments of sub-Saharan countries to adopt strategies that could stem the worldwide AIDS crisis. When human beings have a need — whether for medicine, a warm meal, respect and dignity, or renewed faith — you can be sure a Lutheran is there to help.
Sharing God's love with the world
You may not realize it, but a vast social service system is maintained throughout the United States — and probably in your neighborhood — by Lutheran Services in America, an alliance of the ELCA, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and their related social ministry organizations. Lutheran-related social ministry organizations and institutions make up the largest, private, charitable operation in the United States. Our programs include counseling, foster care, adoption services, chemical-dependency treatment, low-income housing, and nursing homes.
Our commitment to service extends well beyond our country's borders. In partnership with other Lutheran organizations, we carry out critical international relief and development work, refugee assistance, and international disaster aid. Our work with partners around the world changes lives every day — through education, promotion of justice, service, relief and development.
Growing in faith
Through domestic outreach, new ELCA congregations and new ministries continue to develop anywhere there is a need for faith development and services. We provide faith-based education through a vast school system, 28 colleges and universities, as well as numerous campus ministry programs in other public colleges and universities. Pastors and other leaders for our congregations are educated in eight ELCA seminaries throughout the country. Individual ministries help our members develop their faith in a way that relates to their lives — whether they are children, teens, single adults, families, urban, suburban, or small-town Americans.
The ELCA welcomes you to learn more about this church. Learn more by visiting Who We Are.
Come to a service at a congregation nearby.
Learn more about the biblical and theological roots of the tagline.