The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was formed over 20 years ago. This new church was formed from three separate and well-established North American church bodies:
The American Lutheran Church; The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and; The Lutheran Church in America.
Beginning January 1, 1988, these churches, with shared beliefs and missions, officially formed the ELCA. Two decades later, this energized church is composed of 4.8 million members and nearly 10,500 congregations across the U.S. and Caribbean. Today, the ELCA reflects the rich and diverse heritage of the people it serves.
But to understand our heritage fully, one must trace our roots back through the mid-17th century, when early Lutherans came to America from Europe, settling in the Virgin Islands and the area that is now known as New York. Even before that, Martin Luther sought reform for the church in the 16th century, laying the framework for our beliefs.
We are one of 65 synods in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While a synod is a geographic sub-unit of a church akin to a district or diocese, the word “synod” actually comes from the Greek and literally translates as “WALKING TOGETHER.” And that is just what our synod is and does: 170+ ELCA congregations in two states walking together … and together achieving what none of the congregations could do by themselves.
Just a few examples:
We support five new congregations under development, including our newest church, Global Peace Lutheran Church, a multicultural outreach ministry among immigrants from India and Asian-American communities in Frederick County.
- We work with a dozen existing congregations in redevelopment and various stages of transition, including an exciting new ministry at Christ Lutheran Church, Catonsville, reaching out to a primarily African-American neighborhood.
- We rejoice in the recent consolidation of smaller, declining congregations that are banding together for the sake of mission, including the newly-formed Harmony Community Church in Rockdale and Emmanuel Trinity Lutheran Church in Frederick County as well as the brand-new Dundalk Lutheran Mission that is being developed this summer and fall.
- We provide financial support for the Lutheran Campus Ministry at four educational institutions: the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Delaware, Newark; Towson University; and Morgan State University, Baltimore.
- We help provide funding for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, one of eight ELCA seminaries.
- We operate, in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington DC Synod, a camping and retreat center, Mar-Lu-Ridge, in Jefferson, Md., serving several hundred children and youth each summer.
- We participate in the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council as well as in the Ecumenical Council of Delaware and Maryland.
Please join us in giving thanks to God for the ministry we share together, and most of all for the gift of God’s only son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life for us and for the sake of the world.