Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is a mainline Protestant Lutheran church headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA was officially formed on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three Lutheran church bodies. As of 2019, it has approximately 3.3 million baptized members in 8,972 congregations.[4]

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
PolityModified episcopal polity with some powers reserved to the congregation as in congregationalism
Presiding bishopElizabeth Eaton
RegionUnited States and Caribbean
HeadquartersLutheran Center, Chicago, Illinois
OriginConstituting Convention on April 30, 1987, in Columbus, Ohio,[1] operations began January 1, 1988[2]
Merger of
Congregations8,972 (2019)[4]
Members3,265,581 baptized members (2019)[4]
MissionariesAbout 150 fully supported, including nine evangelists[5]
Official websitewww.elca.org

In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.4 percent of the U.S. population self-identifies with the ELCA.[6] It is the seventh-largest Christian denomination by reported membership,[7] and the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States.[8] The next two largest Lutheran denominations are the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) (with over 1.8 million members[9]) and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) (with approximately 350,000 members).[10] There are also many smaller Lutheran church bodies in the United States, some of which were formed by dissidents to the major 1988 merger.

The ELCA belongs to the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Lutheran World Federation. The ELCA is in full communion with the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.[11]