About the evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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. These 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.
Since its beginning in 1988, the ELCA has been one church body organized in three expressions — congregations, synods and the churchwide organization. Each expression has its particular functions but all three together share a common mission of doing God’s work in the world and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Together, they ensure a solid foundation of leadership, active involvement in communities, opportunities for dialogue and diverse perspectives, creative partnerships, and support for members and ministries of the ELCA.
The churchwide organization is based out of the Lutheran Center in Chicago and functions with the ELCA’s 65 synods and nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states, Caribbean and U.S. Virgin Islands. The churchwide organization’s work and functions are guided by the Churchwide Assembly, the Church Council and four elected officers. Its staff and elected officers work at the Lutheran Center and in other locations around the world serving as administrators, advisors, conveners, partners and resource people for the ELCA and its ministries.
The ELCA also nurtures important connections with Lutheran, ecumenical and interfaith partners, and related organizations. It works alongside 27 colleges and universities related to the ELCA, 7 seminaries, more than 2,000 schools and early childhood education centers, campus ministries, outdoor ministries, social service agencies, and other agencies and institutions across the country and throughout the world. The work God calls Christians to do in the world is never done alone or in isolation, and the churchwide organization plays a key role in developing and supporting a culture of interdependence, diversity and common mission across all expressions of the ELCA and its partners.