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Denominations - Protestant

Short profiles of selected Christian denominations in the U.S.

Evangelical Lutheran Church symbol

Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Lutheran, Evangelical

  • Date Founded:  1853

  • Membership/Number of Clergy/Number of churches:  19,394/173/132 as of 2010

  • Headquarters:  6 Browns Ct., Mankato, MN  56001

  • Schools & Seminaries:  Bethany Lutheran College, Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary

  • Publications:  Lutheran Sentinel

  • Website:

  • Social Media:  Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo

  • Core Beliefs:

    • We confess that the only true God is the Triune God, revealed in Scripture as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    • We confess that the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, in their original form as written by the prophets, apostles, and evangelists, were given by inspiration of God. The Holy Scriptures are without error in everything they teach, including matters of geography, science, and history, and they are the only infallible rule and norm of Christian doctrine and practice.

    • We confess that God created all things in six days by the power of His Word, exactly as is set forth in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 and elsewhere in Scripture. We therefore reject the theories of “evolution,” including “theistic evolution,” not only because they lack a sound basis in scientific evidence but especially because they contradict the divinely-inspired account of creation as given by Moses in the Old Testament and confirmed by Christ in the New.

    • If the objective fact of Christ’s atonement is not personally received by faith, then it has no saving benefit for the individual. We reject as unscriptural any teaching that people can be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ

    • When God’s Word says that women are not to teach or “exercise authority” over men in the church, this means that the pastoral office cannot be conferred upon women, and that it is God’s will that only properly qualified men be called to this office. According to this same principle women should not exercise authority over men in the congregational decision-making process, such as by holding voting membership in an assembly which makes the final decisions for a church.

    • We reject the teaching that the soul has no continuing, conscious existence after the time of physical death (a soul sleep) and the teaching that the souls of unbelievers will be annihilated on the Day of Judgment. We also reject as unbiblical all forms of millennialism, that is, the teaching that Christ will reign visibly over an earthly kingdom for a thousand years before the Day of Resurrection and Judgment.

For more detailed information and more topics of ELS belief see

Short History:  Originally formed by Norwegian immigrants to the United States as the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  It joined with the Missouri Synod and other smaller synods to form the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America in 1872. Members of the former Norwegian church split in the 1880s over a disagreement about the role of humans in the act of salvation.  In 1917 the larger group divided by the split decided to rejoin the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America and, in 1918, the smaller group reorganized as The Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The name was later changed to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The ELS later rejoined the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, but withdrew over doctrinal issues in the mid-20th century. 

Local Churches: None. There are no ELS congregations in the Louisville area.  

Church Locator: