Whos is God?
God is the creator of the world; the giver of life; the source of wholeness, healing and forgiveness; the champion of the poor and oppressed; the power of new life and resurrection. God creates, redeems and continues to sustain the world. Christians know God as the Holy Trinity — one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Christians, we believe all people are created in God’s image and loved by God. We know about God thanks to the witness of the Scriptures and especially through Jesus Christ, who embodied God’s love for humanity. God’s grace is a gift, given through Christ and received by faith. There is nothing we can do on our own — good or bad — to earn this gift. We call this “good news” or the “gospel.” Through this gift of God, we are led by the Holy Spirit to love and work for justice and peace.
What do Christians believe?
Christians believe that God came to us in Jesus Christ, a true human, humble and vulnerable. Jesus lived among us and demonstrated the good news in all he was and did. The good news is the promise that God loves us and saves us by grace alone. This promise was realized when Jesus was crucified. He died on the cross but was raised again in the body and in a new wholeness. As a result, through the gift of grace received by faith, all people can be made whole in Christ and set free to love and serve all people, particularly the vulnerable, just as God loves us.
What is faith? Why is it important?
Martin Luther, after whom the Lutheran branch of Christianity is named, once wrote, “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that you could stake your life on it one thousand times. … Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; serving everyone, suffering everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown such grace.” Faith, then, is not about intellectually agreeing to a set of beliefs but about living in a trusting relationship with God in response to God’s grace. Faith is our confident hope that living in God’s promises sparks renewal to love and serve neighbors, as God in Christ loves us.
I’m thinking about going to church. What can I expect?
A congregation is a community of faith that gathers for worship, fellowship, learning and service. It’s a place to find connection with others as you experience and share God’s love and grace together. Congregations have many ways to welcome new people who are interested in participating in the life of the community.
What should I know about the ELCA faith tradition?
We are a church that is deeply rooted and always being made new. Our roots are in Scripture and a collection of writings called the Book of Concord, as well as in the rich histories of our congregations. We’re a church that strives to be faithful to the gospel and work toward more justice and wholeness in the world.
We are equipped to live and serve in the world with all its complexities, tensions and ambiguities. All are welcome here.
A merger of three Lutheran churches formed the ELCA in 1988. They were The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.
Now 30 years later, the ELCA is a church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. As members of the ELCA, we believe that we are freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.
With our hands, we do God’s work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus Christ’s name throughout the world.
We 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.
Get to Know Us
About the ELCA
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region.
We are church
We are what God has made us – people whom God has created by grace to live in union with Jesus Christ and has prepared to live faithful, fruitful lives by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-10). In Jesus Christ, God has reconciled us to God and to each other. As we gather around word and sacraments, this life in Christ is what defines, shapes and guides us as a community of faith, the church.
By God’s grace we can and do live confidently and generously in this community of faith and in service of others, amid the mysteries and paradoxes of this life in Christ – including our human limitations and failings, and the ambiguities, uncertainties and suffering that we experience.
We are Lutheran
We are a church that walks by faith, trusting God's promise in the gospel and knowing that we exist by and for the proclamation of this gospel word. We proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead for the life of the world. As the apostle Paul wrote (Romans 1:16-17), and we echo in our Constitution (2.02), we are not ashamed of this gospel ministry because it is God’s power for saving all people who trust the God who makes these promises. “We are to fear and love God, so, that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear it and learn it” (Small Catechism). God’s word, specifically God’s promise in Jesus Christ, creates this liberated, confident and generous faith. God gives the Holy Spirit who uses gospel proclamation – in preaching and sacraments, in forgiveness and in healing conversations – to create and sustain this faith. As a Lutheran church, we give central place to this gospel message in our ministry.
We understand to be Lutheran is to be ecumenical – committed to the oneness to which God calls the world in the saving gift of Jesus Christ, recognizing the brokenness of the church in history and the call of God to heal this disunity.
We are church together
Just as God has joined us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in baptism, we are also joined to others, not only in the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), but in all communities of Christian faith around the world. In Christ none of us lives in isolation from others. Jesus is our peace and has broken down the walls that divide us – walls of judgment, hatred, condemnation and violence – and has made us into one, new human community (Ephesians 2:14-15). This spiritual communion depends only on God’s mercy that comes to us in the word and sacraments. That alone is enough for unity, and so we yearn for this communion with all Christians at the Lord’s table.
Because God gives us our unity in Christ, we are able to see and respect the diversity within Christ’s body. We receive it as a gift and embrace it, rather than treating it as a threat or a problem to be solved (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). We respect and honor the diversity of histories, traditions, cultures, languages and experiences among us in the ELCA and in the larger Christian community of faith. We seek full participation of all in the life and work of this church and will strenuously avoid the culture of any one group becoming the norm for all in the ELCA. And we strive to address the ways that racism, sexism, classism and other forms of injustice limit participation and harm people, communities and the whole body of Christ. In all these relationships the ELCA serves reconciliation and healing with other Christians, while repentantly acknowledging its failings and wrongs, trusting in God’s forgiving mercy.
We are church for the sake of the world
Christ has freed us from sin and death, even from ourselves, so that we can live as ministers of reconciliation in loving and generous service of our neighbors (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). In Jesus Christ, all of life – every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.
Freed by the transformative life of Christ, we support ELCA members as they give themselves freely in transforming service with the neighbor. Through a wide range of daily vocations and ministries, we nurture faith, build alliances and gather resources for a healed, reconciled and just world. As church together, we faithfully strive to participate in God’s reconciling work, which prioritizes disenfranchised, vulnerable and displaced people in our communities and the world. We discover and explore our vocations in relation to God through education and moral deliberation. We bear witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ through dialogue and collaboration with ecumenical partners and with other faiths. In all these ministries, God’s generosity flows through us into the life of the world.
There's so much more.
Looking to learn more? Want to talk to our pastor? Schedule a visit? We would love to hear from you.