As a Christian denomination, our beginnings go back to the evening of October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther (a professor and pastor) nailed his 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences (promissory notes guaranteeing admission to heaven) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. What began as an invitation to discussion grew into a movement aimed at reforming the established church.
Like other Christians, we accept the Bible as the Word of God, the true and trustworthy (infallible) source of God's love and guidance. We also profess the same ancient creeds (statements of belief) as billions of other Christians worldwide.
We emphasize the teaching of justification by faith, the belief that a person is saved by grace through having faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works or anything a person does. We distinguish between law (what God does for us) and gospel (what we do for God). We celebrate two sacraments: Baptism and the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper). We call them the means of grace, because we receive God's grace through the water, bread, and wine.
Worldwide, Lutherans that accept the Augsburg Confession (written in 1530) as an accurate explanation of their beliefs belong to the Lutheran World Federation, based in Geneva, Switzerland. In the United States, there are three major Lutheran groups: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The national level of the ELCA is referred to as the "churchwide organization" (because the ELCA extends beyond the boundaries of the United States into the Bahamas and the Caribbean). The churchwide organization is based out of the Lutheran Center in Chicago where Its staff and elected officers work as administrators, advisors, conveners, partners and resource people for the ELCA and its ministries.
We are proud to be a congregation of the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA, along with 176 other congregations and over 49,000 baptized members.
A synod, like a diocese, is a geographical division of a larger (national) area. The ELCA's 65 synods vary greatly in size, geography, membership, staffing and program. Synods unite the work of congregations within their areas, serve as regional support, and guide pastoral and other staff members.