About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America resulted from a union of three North American Lutheran church bodies: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.

The three churches agreed to unite in 1982. They formed a 70-member Commission for a New Lutheran Church, which planned the merger. The plan was approved by church conventions in 1986, and the ELCA constituting convention was held April 30-May 3, 1987, with the church actually beginning operations on January 1, 1988.

The ELCA meets in assembly every two years; at its 2014 Churchwide Assembly it elected its fourth presiding bishop, The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton.

Quick Facts

Good stuff to know about the ELCA

Fact 1: The ELCA has many members, spread across the country.

  • Baptized Members (December 31, 2013): 3,863,133
  • Congregations: 9,464
  • Synods: 65 in nine geographic regions

Fact 2: The ELCA is a diverse church body, becoming more so every day.

This church is committed to growing in diversity and strengthening its global, ecumenical and interfaith relationships around the world.

Fact 3: ELCA congregations are led by gifted men and women who have been called by God to serve their community.

The ELCA calls both women and men to serve as pastors and lay rostered leaders. Here are some other facts about ELCA leaders:

As of September 1, 2014, there were 17,777 leaders on the ELCA roster including:

  • 981 associates in ministry
  • 61 deaconesses
  • 192 diaconal ministers
  • 16,543 ordained clergy

In 2013, 24% of clergy on the ELCA roster were women.  In seminaries, the numbers of women and men preparing for ministry are about equal.

Approximately 86% of ordained women and 83% of ordained men are actively serving in congregations.

Fact 4: The ELCA offers opportunities for Lutheran education at every level.

The ELCA considers education an important part of our calling, and we offer quality education at every level through our institutions:

  • 8 seminaries and 2 seminary extension centers
  • 26 colleges and universities
  • 50 or more lifelong learning programs
  • 14 high schools
  • 296 elementary schools
  • 1,573 early childhood programs
  • 145 camp and retreat centers, serving 450,000 yearly

Fact 5: The ELCA is committed to making the world a more just and peaceful place to live.Through programs, ministries and partnerships, the ELCA works every day to address inequities in political, economic and social systems—and to end conflict and violence all over the world.

Statistics as of September 1, 2014 from:

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