Lutheranism by region: Wikis


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Lutheranism is present throughout various regions of the world.

Christianity by Country

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Luther's Seal
 Lutheranism portal

Namibia has the highest proportion of Lutherans of any country in Africa, at about 50% of the country's population. Indeed, it is the only country outside Europe to have a Lutheran majority. Other African countries with significant Lutheran populations include Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Tanzania.


The largest national Lutheran community is found in India, numbering more than 1.5 million. The Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church has 23,000 baptized members. Smaller Lutheran communities exist elsewhere on the continent, including in China and Malaysia.



Nordic countries

Evangelical Lutheranism is the established church in all of the Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. In these countries, where most people are Lutheran, the churches are supported by taxes, either directly in the form of a church tax, or indirectly through the general income tax paid by most citizens. The church tax, an income tax of about 1–2%, is collected only from the members of the church, but the church also gets its share from other taxes such as the municipal corporation tax. Priests are educated at the Faculties of Theology of the state universities. With the extension of the European Union, the status of state churches is largely revised; they remain a State Church but gain greater autonomy. In Sweden, Lutheranism was the state religion until 2000. The church is no longer supported by taxes, but the fees are collected along with taxes.

In the midst of the Church of Sweden's Constitution of 2000, different traditional and biblical movements continued dissension from the political bondage to the State. Notable personalities in the conflict include the first bishop of the Mission Province, the Right Reverend Arne Olsson; and the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Kenya, the Most Reverend Walter Obare.

Lutheranism is also prominent in Estonia and Latvia.

Many major seaports contain the outposts of the respective Nordic Lutheran churches (e.g. the Norwegian Sjømannskirken and Finnish Seamen's Mission) to provide aid, social opportunities, and pastoral care for visiting seamen — in their own language. There are several Scandinavian churches in London and other cities internationally.


Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Berlin

The Lutheran faith was first established in Germany. After the Thirty Years' War ended in 1648, the Lutheran, Reformed and Catholic churches were recognised as independent churches. The ruler of each principality was given the right to choose one of these three denominations to become the state church of his principality. Some Germany states (especially in the north and east) became Lutheran (e.g. Hanover, Oldenburg, Baden), some became Reformed, while others remained Catholic (e.g. Bavaria and areas along the Rhine). Prussia introduced a Union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in the early 19th Century. Modern mobility and increased secularization have, however, been instrumental in shifting the demographic situation, as did the movements of German refugees from areas lost to Poland and Russia after World War II.

In Germany there also exists the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church (SELK), which formed from those opposed the forced Union with Reformed churches in Prussia. The SELK is a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The SELK is separate from the state churches and has 35,642 baptized members as of 2008. The Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (CELC), primarily located in the lands of the former East Germany, has 1,470 baptized members.

Members of the predominant churches in Germany, whether Lutheran, Reformed or United (Lutheran-Reformed) (EKD), or Roman Catholic are required by the state to pay a church tax in addition to their normal income tax.

England, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain

There are smaller notable confessionally Lutheran denominations in Europe that have survived despite persecution from the state churches and authorities during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Examples include the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE) and the Église Évangélique Luthérienne Synode de France et de Belgique (ELC-SFB), both of which are International Lutheran Council (ILC) members. They are not supported by fees associated with taxes but rely on parishioners' tithings for support instead.

In other European areas such as Spain, the Lutheran church was extinguished during the 16th century as a result of the Inquisition. In Spain, new Lutheran missions activities started as recently as 2000 by missionaries from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA).

Union Lutheran-Reformed Churches

Other Lutheran church bodies in Europe, affiliated with the Lutheran World Federation(LWF), have been merging with other Protestant churches in Europe. On 25 May 2007, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France (EELF) and the Reformed Church of France (ERF) agreed to start discussions that will lead to the creation of a United Protestant Church of France by 2013.[1] Another recent example is the Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its merge with two Reformed churches (the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk and the Gereformeerde Kerk), creating the 2,000,000 strong Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PKN). The 'PKN' claims to be both Reformed and Lutheran and is a member of both the WARC and the Lutheran World Federation.

In 1993, the Lutheran Churches of the Nordic and Baltic states entered into a full communion agreement (Porvoo Common Statement) with the Anglican Churches of Europe and the British Isles, to form the Porvoo Communion. The North American Lutheran and Anglican churches in full communion with each other are also in full communion with the Porvoo Communion. As Anglicans are in full communion with the Old-Catholic Churches of the Utrecht Union, that Union began negotiations in 2005 with the Church of Sweden on entering into a full communion agreement with the Lutherans. As do most denominations of the Lutheran World Federation, member denominations in Germany (EKD), in the Netherlands , in Denmark and in Sweden, permit gay priests in the ministry and allow blessings for gay couples in their churches.


Membership and attendance of services in Lutheran churches, as for all of the large, state-affiliated European churches are low and decreasing. The church attendance on Sundays is no longer the norm. Often, people attend religious services only for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, and possibly at Christmas and Easter. Traditionally, the Lutheran youth would receive preparatory confirmation classes for 1-2 years around age 14, to introduce them to Christian doctrines. A large confirmation service is held once the series is completed. In some areas confirmation is now delayed until the end of the high school.

Except in Northern Europe (see above), very few seminaries are state-supported. Due to agreements like the [Leuenberg Agreement] (1973), involving many churches arising from the Reformation, the training for students in theology embraces a wide range of theologies including modern and contemporary movements in biblical criticism and theology. Smaller denominations such as the ELC-SFB currently have their pastors trained through other resources such as the SELK in Germany and the LCMS in the United States.

North America

Lutherans of the United States
 Lutheranism portal

New Sweden, a Swedish colony in the Delaware Valley on the Mid-Atlantic coast, produced the first establishment of the Lutheran Church within America. Reorus Torkillus, the first Lutheran clergyman in North America, arrived in New Sweden on April 17, 1640. [2] The roots of organized Lutheranism in North America extend back to the foundation of the Pennsylvania Ministerium, the first Lutheran North American church body, founded in 1742 by Henry Muhlenberg.

North and South Dakota, shown in yellow, are the only states in which a plurality of the population is Lutheran.

The LWF includes the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). The ELCA is in full communion with the Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. The ELCIC is in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada.

The ILC includes the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Lutheran Church - Canada (LCC), and the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC).

The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) includes the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS).

The national "church bodies" serve their united local congregations and entities with colleges and seminaries for their professional church workers and missionaries, resources for starting new missions, ecclesiastical supervision, and Sunday School and liturgical materials through "official" publishing companies, e.g. Augsburg-Fortress Press, Concordia Publishing House, and Northwestern Publishing House.

There are at least 20 smaller Lutheran denominations in North America, with many of them being cultural or doctrinal offshoots of the main three. Some, such as the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC), Augsburg Lutheran Churches, the United Lutheran Mission Association (ULMA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (ELDoNA) are confessional, while others such as Church of the Lutheran Brethren, Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, and Laestadian Lutheran Church are Piestic and Protestant-oriented. By far the most Roman Catholic in orientation of the smaller Lutheran Churches is the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, which is a member of the Augustana Evangelical Catholic Communion (AECC).


English-language publishers of books on Luther and Lutheran theology

  1. Concordia Publishing House (LCMS)
  2. Augsburg Fortress and Fortress Press (ELCA)
  3. Northwestern Publishing House (WELS)
  4. Church of the Lutheran Confession Bookhouse (CLC)
  5. Openbook Publishers (Lutheran Church of Australia)
  6. Ambassador Publications (AFLC)
  7. Repristination Press
  8. Emmanuel Press
  9. American Lutheran Publicity Bureau
  10. (Hymn/Liturgy publisher for all Lutherans)


According to the most recent national census, approximately 1.3% of the Australian population call themselves Lutherans.[3] Most Lutherans in Australia are members of congregations that form the synod Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). At present the Lutheran Church of Australia has elected only to be an associate member of the two large world wide Lutheran fellowships, LWF and ILC.

More conservative groups of Australian Lutherans exist as the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Reformation (ELCR) and the Australian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Most Lutherans in Australia live in rural areas, although this is changing. The very earliest Lutherans came to Australia under August Kavel in 1839, to escape religious persecution in Prussia under King Frederick William III, as a result of the Prussian Union. Later immigrants show much more diversity, which resulted in many splits and the formation of many small Lutheran synods throughout Australia. Lutherans are most prominent in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria. After many years of discussion in 1966 the two main synods and therefore most Lutheran congregations joined together to form the Lutheran Church of Australia.

At the end of World War I, the Lutheran Church in Toowoomba, Queensland was burnt down in an illegal protest against the German people.

Papua New Guinea also has a sizeable Lutheran community. According to recent census information, Lutherans form about 16% of the country's population.

South America

There is a sizeable Lutheran community in Brazil, especially in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. The religion was brought by German immigrants in the 18th and 19th centuries. It should be noted that many Germans who came to Brazil were Catholic. Therefore, the population of most cities founded by Germans, such as Novo Hamburgo, São Leopoldo and Blumenau, include both Lutherans and Catholics, but with no tension whatsoever between both groups.

In Argentina, Lutheranism is represented by the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian churches, which are located in Buenos Aires, next to the port area, where they were established mainly to serve the needs of the seamen who arrived to the city. A small Danish community, with their own Lutheran church and school, lives in the city of Tres Arroyos, about 400 km South from Buenos Aires.

See also


External links

Listing of international churches by region


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