The ELCA is the melding of three previous Lutheran denominations. It was organized in 1987 and began operations Jan. 1, 1988, bringing together The American Lutheran Church (ALC), the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC).
The ALC and LCA came into being in the early 1960s as a result of mergers of eight smaller, ethnically- based Lutheran bodies composed of people whose heritages were German, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Slovak and others. The AELC was formed in 1976 from a doctrinal split in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The ELCA, through its predecessor bodies, was a founding member of the Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches, and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Other basic beliefs include confessing the three historic creeds: Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian; affirming the doctrine of justification by grace through faith as fundamental; supporting the authority of Scripture in the life of the Church; and belief in the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. The ELCA also subscribes to the historic Lutheran documents contained in the Book of Concord.
The ELCA has ordained women to the ministry of Word and Sacrament for more 30 years, and is ecumenical and global in nature, and initiates and supports social outreach programs both locally and globally.
The Web site of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: www.elca.org