In the very beginning, there was just Jesus… …and, of course, his disciples. The disciples became apostles, filled with God’s love and the power of the Spirit, and the church, established by Jesus and spread by the Apostles, grew and prospered for about 1500 years.
But there were some problems.
In 1517, a young monk who was also a priest and also a University Professor teaching Biblical Studies suggested that maybe a few changes were in order. Dr. Martin Luther did not want to start a new church but he did want to get back to some important basics. Unfortunately, the people at the top weren’t really open to change, so the churches that were following Dr. Luther’s ideas broke away from the Roman Catholic church and the Lutheran Church was born.
The central pillars of Lutheran theology are the four onlys which Dr. Luther spelled out clearly in 1520.
2. Only Faith--only faith can bring us to God’s grace. Faith equals trust. When we trust in God’s goodness and love we experience God’s Grace.
3. Only Scripture—our doctrine must conform to God’s word as it comes to us through the Bible.
4. Only Christ… Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. The Scriptures point to Christ. He is the object of our faith and the One who brings us God’s grace.
Today Lutheran Churches together make up the world’s largest protestant denomination. The Lutheran World Federation has 133 member denominations in 73 countries, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—the ELCA.
The ELCA has nearly 5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations. The oldest ELCA Lutheran congregation was founded in 1649.
Because our church was founded by a University Professor, education has always been important to Lutherans. Today there are 28 ELCA colleges and universities in the US and 8 seminaries to train our pastors, theologians and teachers.
To help heal the divisions in Christ’s church, the ELCA has established full communion with the Episcopal Church, USA, the Moravian Church, The Presbyterian Church USA, the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. We have even reached a landmark agreement on important doctrine with the Roman Catholic Church.
The ELCA is also working to battle hunger, injustice and poverty worldwide through Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and Lutheran Social Services.
At Gloria Dei Lutheran Church we are proud of our Lutheran heritage but not fettered by our tradition. Our heritage gives us a firm foundation on which to stand as we seek to grow deeper in faith, lifted by hope and guided by love.