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Fact check 1988


2011


Total mission support by congregations as a percent of regular


giving by congregations 10.46% 5.83%


focus on the new.”


There


are no agreed-upon “biological” standards for the growth of church bodies, so as the ELCA celebrates its 25th birthday, it’s hard to say whether we are still young or have matured. Author and radio humorist Garrison Keillor, popular chronicler of the Lutherans in fictional Lake Wobegon, said the Latin motto on the town’s official seal is sumus quod sumus: “We are what we are.” Not a bad description of the ELCA today. It’s good to know who we are, but a church looking toward the future also needs to consider what it’s going to be. “We are now in a very good place,” said Bill Biggs of


Fact check 1988


2012


Number of clergy 17,053 16,773


20 Largest ELCA congregations in 1988 2012


Fact check 1988


Mount Olivet, Minneapolis Prince Of Peace, Burnsville, Minn. North Heights, St. Paul, Minn. * Zion, Anoka, Minn.


Number of AIMs 733


998


Bethel, Madison, Wis. Nazareth, Cedar Falls, Iowa


Calvary, Golden Valley, Minn. * Our Savior, Sioux Falls, S.D. First, Sioux Falls, S.D.


Gloria Dei, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. First, Fargo, N.D.


King Of Glory, Tempe, Ariz. * Hope, Fargo, N.D.


Total mission support by congregations as a percent of regular


St. Andrew, Mahtomedi, Minn. 2011


Trinity, Moorhead, Minn. First, White Bear Lake, Minn. * Central, Minneapolis Trinity, Stillwater, Minn. St. Olaf, Austin, Minn. Grace, Eau Claire, Wis.


Fact check 1988


giving by congregations 10.46% 5.83%


26 The Lutheran • www.thelutheran.org


Fact check 1988


2011 Number of congregations 11,120 9,638


Fact check 1988


2011


Omaha, Neb. “And we were in a very good place 25 years ago.”


it will take some new things for the ELCA to grow, Biggs said “we should never give up the principles of our church.”


Biggs is a lawyer who was a del-


egate to the LCA convention that approved the merger and served on the transition team that brought the “new” Nebraska Synod together in 1988. “Except for my marriage,” he said, “I don’t think I’ve had a more exciting experience in my life.” People, Biggs thinks, have “lost


Fact check 1988


2012


Number of clergy women


the excitement about the new thing that we were doing” in creating the ELCA.


1,071 3,859 One of the great things about the


ELCA today, he said, is “the way we understand that the church is the people, and we let people make the decisions. It’s the people who make


Average attendance 5,735


Total number of female bishops


Fact check 1988


Number of congregations 1,177 1,100 1,100


3,100 2,404 2,200 1,996 1,884 1,780 1,507 1,486 1,350 1,334 1,277 1,255 1,235 1,200 1,196


12


11,120 9,638 1,100


* No longer an ELCA congregation 2011


Fact check 1988


2012


Percent of people of color in congregations


2.01% 5.34% While he believes


the decisions [at synod and church- wide assemblies], they aren’t just told how to vote.” Biggs is a member of Rejoice! Lutheran, a congregation in Omaha that grew from 25 families to more than 3,000 members, largely, he said, “by reaching out, always reach- ing out, especially to young people.” The congregation’s strength is


that “we’ll take on anything,” he added, citing a program for children called “Spirit Matters,” which brings those with physical or developmen- tal disabilities into congregational life on Thursday afternoons. The brightest ELCA future lies in


Fact check 1988


2012


making changes, Biggs said, and in “partnership.” After the ELCA’s ecu- menical agreements with Methodist and Presbyterians, Biggs helped the synod establish Methodist/Lutheran and Presbyterian/Lutheran congre- gations. “We come together with a common cause,” he said, “and they have the same mission as we do.” Hafften said, “It hardly seems like 25 years” since the ELCA began. The church is still “new,” she added, because an institution should be “re-creating itself every day; that will keep us young. I don’t want to sit around dreaming about ‘glory days,’ I want to be a part of what is coming next.”


Number of clergy of color


266 658


Fact check 1988


2012 Total number of


bishops of color/language 8


Biggs said we should never be just “comfortable in our pews. We should totally commit ourselves to the future and not be afraid. The future is exciting.” 


Fact check 1988


2011


Percent of people of color in congregations


2.01% 5.34%


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