The United Evangelical Lutheran Church
Who is the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) and what are its ministries?
Leaders from the ELCA, the ILEP, the IELU and the IELCH gather for a “Vision and Purpose” workshop in Buenos Aires
The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina and Uruguay (Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Unida en Argentina y Uruguay - IELU)
, a member of the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF), has 33 congregations and missions and a total churchwide membership of approximately 11,000 individuals, according to (LWF) statistics. While there is a concentration of IELU congregations in the Greater Buenos Aires area, the IELU’s presence extends throughout 5 districts with distances of 3,600 kilometers between its northernmost congregations in Misiones and those in Patagonia. The IELU has one congregation in Montevideo, Uruguay. The IELU is served by 30 pastors, 2 consecrated deacons, and a strong lay leadership. The IELU also carries out its ministry in 6 schools, 1 home for the elderly, 1 home for women, 1 home for men living with HIV/AIDS, 4 university student residences and several day care and community centers.How do the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina and Uruguay and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America accompany one another in ministry?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions and stewards relationships with the IELU.
This relationship is deepened and extended by the IELU’s relationship, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the Nebraska Synod and the Northeast Pennsylvania Synod. IELU also has companion relationships with Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry (LPGM) and a number of ELCA congregations.
The ELCA’s Regional Representatives are based in Buenos Aires and serve as a bridge between the ELCA and the IELU, as well as between the ELCA and our companion churches and institutions in Chile, Peru and Bolivia.
Each year, through the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program
, 4-6 young people from the United States between the ages of 21-30 have the opportunity to engage in global mission service in Argentina or Uruguay. Most of these volunteers are placed with congregations or other ministries of the IELU and support such activities as afterschool, child care and Sunday school programs. The YAGM program seeks to equip future servant-leaders of the church with global awareness, opportunities for spiritual and personal growth from a global perspective, cross-cultural leadership skills, and the ability to provide global witness back to the ELCA.ELCA funding
to the IELU supports its five strategic priorities of: 1) Evangelization and Healthy Church Growth, 2) Transformational Leadership, 3) Holistic Diaconia, 4) Stewardship and Sustainability, and 5) Institutional Redesign.
More specifically, the ELCA is also supporting a liturgical component of this broader vision toward a more contextualized and sustainable church. This liturgical renewal project “Spaces and Communication in Faith Communities in Transformation” seeks to accompany the development of a healthy renewal of liturgical and celebratory practices in communities of faith (congregations and missions) of the IELU, motivated and assisting the processes of change that already underway in many of these communities.
The ELCA is currently supporting 5 diaconal projects of the IELU: Regional Church Capacity-Building around HIV/AIDS Epidemic; Health Promoters Program in Resistencia; Pastoral Accompaniment of Bolivian Immigrants in Buenos Aires; Sustainable Development and Human Promotion Project in Misiones; and Capacity-building for Facilitators.
The ELCA is accompanying the IELU together with our companion churches in Chile and Peru in a process of discerning and articulating new visions for leadership development, church growth, identity, and mission that are firmly rooted in the realities of their local contexts. More specifically, this process, which its participants have come to call “Vision and Purpose,” includes regional trainings and workshops as well as local initiatives within each church that advance the emerging agendas in these churches.Uruguay: the context where the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina and Uruguay serves
The population of Uruguay is approximately 3.5 million people. Between 1996 and 2004, the population grew just 2.4%, a result of the harsh economic conditions of this period and especially the crisis of 2002 when a significant number of people left the country. Before the people left, the crisis was spurred on by the flight of nearly 50% of all bank deposits denominated in dollars which multiplied by three the government´s public debt. As a result, employment stability and wages decreased, workplace protections weakened, along with the population´s access to health and education.
However, in another sense, the past ten years of economic decline, crisis and then gradual recovery, are only the most recent installment of a story which began 25 years ago. Up until the mid and late 1990s, Uruguay could boast some of the best social indicators in Latin America, if not the best. The “Switzerland of South America”, as some commentators described Uruguay in past decades, has become a country where nearly one-third of the population lives in poverty, including more than one-half of all boys and girls. Along with children, women have suffered disproportionately from increased poverty in Uruguay, as the percentage of adolescents giving birth is increasing, together with violence against women. In Uruguay one woman is killed violently once every 7.5 days, nearly always at the hands of her partner.
The current president of Uruguay is Ramón Tabaré Vázquez. His term began on March 1, 2005 for a period of 5 years.
For up-to-date information on Uruguay, type “Uruguay” into an online search engine or visit: