THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Our Mission – Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.
Our Vision – A world experiencing the difference God’s grace and love in Christ makes for all people and creation.
Our Values – Our values are grounded in faith, in our biblical and Lutheran confessional sources and our love of God and neighbor. They speak to the way this church lives and practices our faith, and they will guide how we journey forward in Christ as a church together.
Forgiveness & Reconciliation – We are reconciled to God by God’s forgiving mercy. Forgiveness and reconciliation flow from what God has made us to be in Jesus Christ and what God is doing with us in the world. As a people of God, we embody forgiveness in speech, action and relationships, and our ministry in reconciliation is foundational.
Dignity, Compassion, & Justice – Each person is created in God’s image. We respect this God-given right to dignity and, inspired by the life of Jesus, show love and compassion for all people. Through proclamation of the gospel, through worship and as servants of God working for healing and justice in the world, we uphold and seek to protect the dignity and human rights of all people.
Inclusion & Diversity – As Christ’s church, we value the richness of God’s creation and offer a radical welcome to all people, appreciating our common humanity and our differences. We are a church that does not view diversity as a barrier to unity. We recognize and will challenge dynamics of power and privilege that create barriers to participation and equity in this church and society – for women, people of color, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, people who are marginalized or living in poverty, and the LGBTQ community.
Courage & Openness to Change – Because we trust in God’s promise and understand faith to be a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, we are emboldened to embrace learning and change in our spiritual and institutional journey as church. This means we are open to new ways and willing to take risks to discover God’s plan for this church.
Faithful Stewardship of God’s Creation & Gifts – As church together, faithful stewardship is about holding to God’s purpose and ensuring the responsibilities and resources that God has entrusted to us are used with great care and with accountability to God, to each other and those served by this church.
THE HISTORY OF ELCA
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.
Since our 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. We work alongside 26 colleges and universities related to the ELCA, eight 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 us 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.
A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment
FLORIDA - BAHAMAS SYNOD
As Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Christians, we have a radical focus on God’s unconditional love. We believe that the word of the God is Jesus Christ himself, with a second understanding that the message of Jesus Christ is also the word of God.
The ELCA looks to the Bible for authority in its preaching and teaching, yet does not take a literalist approach to scripture.
We celebrate the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper–external signs instituted by Christ that convey God’s grace and mercy. The ELCA is an inclusive and ecumenical church and seeks relationships with other religious traditions.
We are part of the ELCA, a church body that consists of 4 million baptized members, worshiping in nearly 10,000 congregations within 65 synods in 9 geographic regions.