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Continental European Protestantism


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Doctrines Representing as it does, the more liberal wing of American Lutheranism and drawing together many diverse ethnic traditions, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a unity based on relatively minimal confessional standards. In common with Lutherans worldwide, they recognise the pre-eminence of scripture and faith: the Old and New Testaments as the inspired word of God and the supreme authority in matters of faith. The three ecumenical creeds and the unaltered Augsburg Confession form the doctrinal standard. While the church seeks to ensure proper preaching and teaching of the Gospel and administration of the sacraments, there is a high degree of synodical autonomy, and individual belief is allowed considerable latitude.

History The Lutheran tradition entails an accommodation to the state based on its doctrine of the divine ordination of secular power. In the context of the American secular and pluralist state the Lutheran tradition became further diversified as the settlers took different directions following their arrival in America. Many of these pioneers in the 17th century either failed to establish permanent colonies or converted to the Anglicanism of their neighbours. Others fared better: Dutch migrants to Albany and New Amsterdam in 1623 prevailed; German Lutherans joined a few remaining Swedish colonists in Delaware toward the end of the century, and spread into Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Frontier life meant disorganisation for the churches, until 1742, when Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (the father of American Lutheranism) undertook the task of coordinating local synods and re-establishing a link with Lutheranism in Germany. Various state synods were established and linked together by the General Synod in 1820. Despite this process of unification, by 1850 as many as 150 separate synods were operating independently in America. The complex history of American Lutheranism is of their amalgamation and Americanisation, even though immigration continued to bring fresh disunity, in terms of ethnicity, language and doctrine.

Symbols The sacraments of the Lord's Supper and Baptism are regarded as signs and seals of God's grace, but also as the visible Word. As the proclaimed Word incites the heart to belief through hearing, so the visible Word accomplishes this through sight.
The logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a red cross over a red sphere surrounded by the name of the church.

Adherents The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has 5,180,190 members (http:www.elca.org/)

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631, U.S.A. Tel: 01 + (773) 380-2700; Fax: 01 + (773) 380-1465.