What is the ELCA?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the larger Christian denominations in the United States with approximately 4 million members. It has about 10,000 congregations around the United States, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The ELCA was formed in 1987 after the merger of 3 of the largest Lutheran bodies in the United States: the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. Its formation brought a greater effort to the unification of all Lutherans and created the largest Lutheran organization in the United States.
The ELCA provides a framework for Lutheran theology and structure to church organization. It sponsors "a wide range of daily vocations and ministries, nurtures faith, builds alliances and gathers resources for a healed, reconciled and just world".
How were Lutherans formed?
The Lutheran Movement was started by a young Catholic monk and priest named Martin Luther in the 1500's. Martin Luther found that “Faith is God’s work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God. This faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that believers would stake their lives on it a thousand times.” His teachings and many deeds brought about the formation of a new church and the start of the Protestant Reformation.
The Luther Rose (Lutheran Rose) has been widely used as the symbolic emblem for Lutherans worldwide. Martin Luther used a slightly different variation than this stained glass artistic one seen here in his official correspondence.