“Our synod includes the District of Columbia and the Maryland and the Virginia suburbs, from upper Montgomery County south to the Quantico Marine Barracks, and from the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay out to the foothills of the Blue Ridge.
“There are about 35,000 of us in 80 congregations. We worship every week in English and Spanish and Amharic and Oromo and Tamil.
“And all across this great metropolitan area we proclaim the truth of the gospel in language Lutherans have always used when we say that the death and the resurrection of Jesus are God’s free gifts to us, so that we can be redeemed from the power of sin and be set free to love and serve our neighbors,” said the Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop, Metro D.C. Synod in May 2013.
It is in this place and time we strive to live out: God’s work, our hands.
The English word “synod” combines two Greek words that literally mean “a way together.” In and through synods, congregations and other ministries “walk together.” Synods are an expression of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), just as are congregations and the churchwide organization. They coordinate the work of congregations within their territories and plan for the ELCA’s mission in their area. There is great variety in size, geography, membership, staffing and ministries among the ELCA’s 65 synods.
Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic church at that time. His hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible. “Lutheran” became the name of the group that agreed with Luther‚Äôs convictions.
Lutherans still hold to the basic principles of Luther‚Äôs theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:
- We are saved by the grace of God alone — not by anything we do;
- Our salvation is through faith alone — we only need to trust God made known in Christ who promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
- The Bible is the norm for faith and life — the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
The churchwide office offers reflections on many other Lutheran teachings, such as the soul, Jesus, baptism and the Bible. “Go deeper” and check out these reflections.
Lutherans are part of a reforming movement within the whole Christian church; as a part of practicing their faith, the ELCA and its predecessors have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with other church bodies for decades. In fact, the ELCA has entered into cooperative “full communion” agreements (sharing common convictions about theology, mission and worship) with several other Protestant denominations, including:
- The Episcopal Church
- The Moravian Church
- Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Reformed Church in America
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist Church
The ELCA needs men and women who are grounded in faith, educationally prepared and emotionally suited to service as pastors and rostered lay leaders. Leaders on the roster of the ELCA include pastors, associates in ministry, deaconesses and dioaconal ministers.
If you are a student looking toward your future or a person thinking about changing careers, have you stopped to consider God’s direction for your life? Perhaps God is calling you to serve as a pastor or rostered lay leader.
Talk with your pastor about church careers. Also, a short book called “What Shall I Say?” is designed to help people discern God’s call and to better understand the candidacy process, which is the procedure in the ELCA for persons interested in rostered leadership. Order a copy from Augsburg Fortress (English or Spanish), or request a complementary copy from the synod office.
The formal process interested parties enter toward becoming rostered leaders in the ELCA is called candidacy. Details about the Candidacy Process are available.