Associate in Ministry - One of the three categories of rostered lay ministers in the ELCA. Associates in Ministry are called and commissioned for service in congregations, agencies, schools and institutions of the ELCA. Their primary areas of service are education, music and the arts, administration, service and general ministry.
Bishop - A bishop is an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA, given the responsibility to provide pastoral care and leadership in a synod and its congregations, and seek to strengthen the unity of the Church. The bishop is the chief executive officer of the synod, elected to a term of six years and may be reelected.
Bishop’s Assistant or Associate - A person who assists the synodical bishop in carrying out the responsibilities of the office. A bishop’s assistant or associate may be an ordained minister, a rostered lay minister, or a lay person.
Bishop, Presiding - An ordained minister of Word and Sacrament who is a teacher of the faith of this church and provides leadership for the life and witness of this church. The Presiding Bishop is the chief executive officer of the churchwide organization, and is the chief ecumenical officer of the church. The presiding bishop is elected to a six year term and may be reelected.
Book of Concord - The Book of Concord is the 16th century statement of the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the most recent edition was published in 2000). Within it is the Augsburg Confession, which the ELCA accepts as a "true witness to the Gospel," as well as other confessional writings which the ELCA considers "further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church."
Church Council - The Church Council of the ELCA is its board of directors, serving as the interim legislative authority between meetings of the Churchwide Assembly. The Church Council meets at least two times each year, and is composed of the four churchwide officers (presiding bishop, vice-president, secretary and treasurer) and 33 other persons, elected to six year terms by the Churchwide Assembly.
Churchwide Assembly - The Churchwide Assembly is the highest legislative authority of the churchwide organization. It reviews the work of the churchwide officers and churchwide units. It establishes churchwide policy and adopts the budget for the churchwide organization. It has the sole authority to amend the constitution and bylaws of the ELCA. The Churchwide Assembly meets biennially in regular session.
Churchwide Organization - The churchwide organization functions interdependently with the congregations and synods of the ELCA. It is responsible for developing churchwide policy, standards for leadership, including ordained and rostered lay ministries, and the coordination of the work of the ELCA both globally and throughout the territory of the ELCA.
Conference of Bishops - The Conference of Bishops is composed of the bishops of the 65 synods, the presiding bishop, and the secretary of the ELCA. The conference meets at least two times each year and is a forum in which goals, objectives, and strategies may be developed and shared concerning pastoral leadership, care and counsel for the synods. The Conference of Bishops reviews recommendations from the Division for Ministry pertaining to policies and programs related to the rosters of ordained ministers, and the three rosters of lay ministers (associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers).
Confession of Faith - The ELCA Confession of Faith confesses the Triune God, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the written Word of God, accepts the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church, and accepts the Augsburg Confession and the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord as valid interpretations of the faith of this church.
Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions - The basic commitments of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as its organizational outline, structural patterns, and rubrics of governance are expressed by its constitutions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions. These documents govern the life of the ELCA as congregations, synods, and churchwide organization.
Deaconess - One of the three categories of rostered lay ministers in the ELCA and an outgrowth of the European Deaconess movement of the 19th century. ELCA deaconesses are called and consecrated, and serve in congregations, agencies and institutions of the ELCA. They are members of the Deaconess Community of the ELCA, and participate in the life of that community.
Diaconal Minister - One of the three categories of rostered lay ministers in the ELCA, established in 1993. ELCA diaconal ministers are called and consecrated, and serve in congregations, agencies and institutions of the ELCA. Their focus for ministry is the extension of the church’s ministry of witness and care into the world.
Evangelical - From the Greek word for "gospel" and its German derivative. Original designation for the early reformers that is still used in German-speaking areas for non-Roman and non-Orthodox Christians. Historically unrelated to twentieth-century evangelical movements in the United States.
Lutheran Book of Worship - The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), is the primary worship resource for use within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its liturgical texts and patterns of worship are considered the norm within the ELCA. It is supplemented by the worship resources, With One Voice (1995), Libro De Liturgia Y Cantico (1998), and This Far by Faith ( 1999).
Manual on the Liturgy - Manual on the Liturgy, published in 1979, is the primary interpretative resource based on the Lutheran Book of Worship. This manual provides a commentary and explanation of Lutheran liturgical practices.Membership. The 1999 membership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is 5.2 million baptized members in 10,862 congregations. There are 17,631 ordained ministers (11,335 active and serving under call), 1,074 associates in ministry (667 active and serving under call), 77 deaconesses (32 active and serving under call), and 36 diaconal ministers (34 active and serving under call).
Ministry - The ELCA affirms the universal priesthood of all its baptized members and commits itself to the equipping and supporting of all its members for their ministries in the world and in this church.
Occasional Services - Occasional Services, published in 1982, is a companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship and provides services for specific occasions and specific situations, as distinguished from services of worship of a more general character.
Ordained Ministry - The ELCA confesses that within the people of God and for the sake of the Gospel ministry entrusted to all believers, God has instituted the office of ministry of Word and Sacrament. To carry out this ministry, the ELCA calls and ordains qualified persons.
Pastor - The normal term used to describe an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament. A parish pastor serves in a congregational setting. The term pastor may be used to describe an ordained minister serving in a non-congregational setting as well.
Principles of Organization - The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America understands itself as one church, recognizing that all power and authority in the Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. The congregations, synods, and churchwide organization of the ELCA are interdependent partners sharing responsibility in God’s mission.
Representational Principle - Among the principles of organization, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has determined that at least 60 percent of the members of assemblies, councils, committees, boards and other organizations shall be laypersons; that, as nearly as possible, the lay members shall be 50 percent female and 50 percent male, and that, where possible, the representation of ordained ministers shall be both female and male. It is also determined that a minimum goal of 10 percent of the membership of its assemblies, councils, committees, boards, or other organizational units be persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is other than English.
Region - There are nine geographic regions within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, recognized as a partnership among groups of synods within the region and the churchwide organization.
Sacramental Practices - The Use of the Means of Grace (Augsburg Fortress, 1997) was adopted for "guidance and practice" by the Fifth Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a "statement on the practice of Word and Sacrament."
Synod - There are 65 synods (similar to Episcopal Church dioceses) in the ELCA. Each synod, in partnership with the churchwide organization, bears primary responsibility for the oversight of the life and mission of the ELCA in its territory.
Synod Assembly - The Synod Assembly is the highest legislative authority of the synod, with a regular meeting held at least biennially (with most synod assemblies meeting annually). All ordained ministers and all rostered lay ministers are voting members, as are representative lay members from every congregation within the synod.
Vision and Expectations - The document "Vision and Expectations - Ordained Ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" was adopted by the ELCA Church Council in 1990 as a statement of this church about the vision for ordained ministry in the life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the expectations of those who serve in that ministry. It is used primarily in the candidacy process.