WHAT IS LUTHERANISM? Lutheranism is a tradition within Christianity that began in the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s. With a membership estimated at around 80 million members worldwide, Lutheranism is the third-largest Protestant movement, after Anglicanism and Pentecostalism.
The Lutheran faith is based on doctrines first articulated by Martin Luther in his attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Luther conducted the first Lutheran worship service and ordained the first Lutheran minister in 1525. Approximately 100 years later, Lutheran congregations started to spring up in North America.
The central doctrine, justification by grace through faith alone for the sake of Jesus Christ, concentrates on God's favour to every person and not on each person's actions toward God. Lutherans believe that the understanding of God’s favour depends upon proclamation and interpretation of the Word. Preaching is the Lutheran church's hallmark.
Lutherans celebrate the sacraments of Baptism (washing with water) and Holy Communion (sharing bread and wine). A Sacrament is a rite commanded by God that carries God’s grace.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) came into being in 1986. There are 111,570 baptized believers in 519 ELCIC congregations. The ELCIC is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The ELCIC is in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada under the Waterloo Declaration, signed in 2001, and is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.
Lutheran leaders are called pastors, who serve local congregations. Pastors may also take specialized training to equip them to serve as chaplains on university campuses, in street ministries, food banks and shelters, in hospitals, prisons and the military.
Since 1986, the ELCIC has ordained women into ministry. More than 140 women in total have served on the roster of the ELCIC and predecessor bodies since 1976. Women presently serve in all types of ordained ministry including parish pastor, senior pastor, synod and national staff, seminary faculty, chaplaincy and as overseas missionaries, and they currently represent about 13% or 112 of the 852 pastors on the roster.
The ELCIC Women of Faith Fund provides annual grants that encourage and facilitate the Christ-centred ministry of women within the ELCIC and In Mission for Others. This fund was established in 2011 in recognition of the “significant contribution of the women of the Evangelical Lutheran Women (ELW) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)”.
Many of our congregations offer rewarding experiences for youth as well. Every two years, one ELCIC event attracts more ELCIC people than any other. This is the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth gathering. Lutheran and Anglican teens travel from every part of the country to meet for several exciting days. For some, it is a time that will forever change their lives.
Young people and adults have expanded their horizons by attending one of the ELCIC’s educational institutions. We have two schools: Luther College High School in Regina, and Luther College at the University of Regina; Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in Outlook, Saskatchewan as well as campus ministries at the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, University of Alberta – main campus, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge. Seminaries in Waterloo and Saskatoon train lay and clergy leaders.
Lutheranism is a movement that seeks to maintain our essential tradition and respond to cultural changes. It is a dynamic, lively gathering of people who seek to live grace-filled lives, centered in God’s Word and Sacrament, loving God and neighbour.