Who are Lutherans?

Lutherans are Christians.  We believe we are saved by God’s grace of unconditional love, forgiveness, and eternal life given through Jesus Christ.  As people of God’s grace, we are called to love God and love our neighbors.  We live out our faith by serving others and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for all.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church

We are a congregation of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Our synod is comprised of 8o congregations in the D.C. metro area. The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 3 million members in over 9,500 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more about our synod and the ELCA, visit metrodcelca.org and elca.org. 

A Little Lutheran History

The Lutheran Church is a Christian denomination that grew out of the Reformation of the 16th century. Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, realized in reading the Bible that we are justified (made right with God) through the grace of Jesus Christ, and not through anything we do – we simply respond in faith by trusting that we are loved and saved by God. This central Lutheran belief is called “justification by grace through faith.”

The word “Lutheran” came to mean anyone who adhered to Martin Luther’s theology, believing in the great the principles of “Grace Alone,” “Faith Alone,” and “Scripture Alone.” To this day, these principles form 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 – a confident trust in God, who in Christ promises us forgiveness, life and salvation.
  • The Bible is the norm for faith and life – the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.

The ELCA Today: Ecumenical and Welcoming

The ELCA is a descendant of the reforms of Martin Luther. We still consider ourselves to be a reforming movement, and we actively engage in dialogue and Christian cooperation with other denominations. Over the years, different Lutheran church bodies have been established and organized to meet the needs of communities and nations all over the world. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest Lutheran group in North America, founded in 1988 when three North American Lutheran church bodies united: The Lutheran Church in America, The American Lutheran Church, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 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 Moravian Church
  • The Episcopal Church
  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • The Reformed Church in America
  • The United Church of Christ
  • The United Methodist Church

Ours is a faith tradition of grace that is open to all. You are loved by God, and you are welcome in the Lutheran church!