Chicago (April 24, 2022) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will observe its 35th anniversary on April 30. On this date in 1987, the ELCA constitution was adopted during the opening session of the Constituting Convention in Columbus, Ohio.
The ELCA was formed from a merger of three Lutheran churches – the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. To symbolize the formation of the new denomination, the bishops from the three predecessor church bodies poured water from separate containers into one baptismal font.
The Rev. Herbert W. Chilstrom was elected first bishop of the ELCA during the Constituting Convention. He was former bishop of the Minnesota Synod of the Lutheran Church in America.
As the church commemorates its history, it also is looking toward the future. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton spoke of the importance of the “Future Church” priority being rooted in tradition while also being relevant to people who may not know the gospel message of freedom.
“In 1522, early in the Lutheran movement, Martin Luther took hold of the new technology of the printing press and modernized communication by translating the Bible into German, the language of the people,” she said. “Now, 500 years later, we need to find new ways to speak into the cultural vernacular.
“It’s not our intent to water down or minimize the gospel word, but to share the good news to make it rooted in tradition and radically relevant. We believe that the gospel changes lives. The gospel not only is a word of grace but it’s also a word of liberation.”
Additional “Future Church” priorities include starting new ministries and engaging with new, young and diverse people.
Let Us Pray for the Church
Gracious God, we pray for your holy universal church as the Body of Christ. Fill it with love, truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it. Pour out upon us your one and unifying Spirit, and awaken in all expressions of your church a holy hunger and thirst for unity in you. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy God, we praise you for calling diverse people into the church’s ministry of word and sacrament. Uphold all pastors with your strong and loving arms. Empower our ministers to serve your people with the word of scripture, the water of life, and the meal of grace. Equip them with both beloved traditions and fresh ideas; grant them joy in their tasks; and renew them daily by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
O God, through the ages you have called from among your people those who will carry out the ministry of word and service in the church. Let your blessing rest on all deacons who answer that call. Give to all deacons understanding of the gospel, sincerity of purpose, diligence in ministry, and the beauty of life in Christ that many people will be served and your love be lived into the world. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of compassion, your Son came among us not to be served but to serve. We give you thanks for those whom you have called to be Lay Pastoral Associates in the Montana Synod. Give to them the faith to serve you with gladness; sustain them with a living hope, especially in times of despair; and kindle in them your love, so that they see in every neighbor the face of Jesus Christ. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Almighty and merciful God, you built your church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and all those who have served your church throughout its history. Thank you for those many servants of Christ who you called to minister to your church in various ways and have now retired. Support and sustain them in your faith and love as they seek new ways to serve your church and grant that they, and all pastoral leaders in your church, may carry out their ministry faithfully in the power of your Spirit. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
God of love, justice and equity, you call us to support the weak, to help those who suffer, and to honor all people. By the power of your Holy Spirit, make us advocates for your justice, workers of love, and instruments of your peace, so that all may be reconciled in your beloved community. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Bishop Laurie Jungling
Elected June 1, 2019, Laurie is the 5th Bishop of the Montana Synod