Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Synod?

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 church-wide organization. Synods 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 65 synods of the ELCA. 

Who are Lutherans?

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 the 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’s convictions.

The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod is a synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region.

What do Lutherans Believe?

Lutherans still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s 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 ELCA churchwide office offers reflections on many other Lutheran teachings, such as the soul, Jesus, baptism and the Bible.

How do Lutherans relate to other denominations?

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

How does someone become a rostered minister in the ELCA?

The ELCA needs people who love Jesus and love people and who are grounded in faith, educationally prepared and emotionally suited to service as rostered leaders in the ELCA. Leaders on the roster of the ELCA include Pastors and Deacons.

No matter if you are a student looking toward your future or a person thinking about changing careers, have you prayerfully considered God’s direction in your life? Perhaps God is calling you to serve as a rostered minister.

In order to enter the formal Candidacy process in the ELCA, the Metropolitan Washington, DC Synod adopted an intentional discernment process for all considering this path. This process in addition to conversation with the synod office helps clarify next steps and begin a relationship of accompaniment.

Is the Metro D.C. Synod affirming of LGBTQIA+ leaders and members?

Absolutely! In 1989, the Metro D.C. Synod adopted an affirmation of welcome for gay and lesbian Christians, thus being recognized by ReconcilingWorks.org as a welcoming Synod to the LGTBQ+ community. In 1991, the Metro D.C. Synod assembly voted to accept and affirm homosexual persons as rostered ministers to serve in the church.

There are 886 Reconciling in Christ congregations in the U.S. – 27 of them reside in the Metro D.C. Synod. A list of RIC congregations in the Metro D.C. Synod can be found here.

Where We Fit into the
Bigger Picture

We are a synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

We are gifted with three interdependent ways of being Christ’s Church for the life of the world. Each of our ELCA expressions is fully the Church. No one expression is the Church alone.

The churchwide expression includes the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, officers, offices and churchwide units. Churchwide staff work from the Lutheran Center in Chicago, Ill., and from locations around the globe.

Sixty-five synods throughout the country unite the work of congregations within their areas, serving as regional support and guiding pastoral and other staff candidates through the call process.

More than 9,300 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are local communities of faith-filled people celebrating, learning and connecting through weekly worship and various ways to serve others.

Our three expressions, together with affiliated agencies and institutions, are all part of the ELCA. And because of our connections with worldwide Lutheran, ecumenical and interfaith partners, the ELCA is an active participant in the global community.