Who and What are "Lutherans"?

Lutherans are a denomination of Protestant Christianity named for Martin Luther, a priest in the Roman Catholic Church of sixteenth century Germany.  Luther was a university professor and biblical scholar who noticed that some of the Roman Catholic church’s teachings were in conflict with the New Testament’s message of God’s free gift of salvation in Christ. Luther's protest eventually led to his excommunication by the pope. Nonetheless, the movement to reform the church could not be contained, and the Lutheran church came into being, along with other Protestant churches soon after.



Lutherans keep returning to Luther’s rediscovery of St. Paul’s teaching that we are saved not by anything we do, but by what God has done for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. Romans 3:21-28).  This is the gospel, the good news.  Since almost all Christians affirm this truth, it is not a distinctively Lutheran teaching, but Lutherans tend to emphasize it a lot.  Because God in Christ has saved us, we are free to give of ourselves as Christ gave himself for us, 


Sunday worship tends to have four key elements: gathering, word, meal and sending.  We gather to hear the good news that our sins are forgiven: we can make a fresh start every day, thanks to God’s love given to us in Jesus.  We share the meal that Jesus instituted, receiving his body and blood in bread and wine to nurture our ongoing journey of faith.  (This meal goes by many names: the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, and the Sacrament of the Altar.)  Finally, we are sent into the world to share the good news in word and deed.


St. Andrew is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States with 4 million members.  The ELCA is composed of 65 geographic synods.  Our congregation belongs to the Southeastern Synod, which includes 160  congregations in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

The ELCA is the only Lutheran denomination in the United States which is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 145 member churches in 79 countries representing more than 70 million Lutherans around the world.

The ELCA is in full communion with the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.​