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North American Lutheran Church

North American Lutheran Church
File:NALC logo.jpg
Classification Protestant
Orientation Mainline
Confessional Lutheran
Theology Moderate to Conservative
Polity Mixed episcopal and congregationalist polity
Leader Bishop John Bradosky
Origin 2010
Hilliard, Ohio
Congregations 391[1]
Members c. 140,000[2]
Official website
Lutherans of the United States</font>
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The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) is a Lutheran denomination with congregations in the United States and Canada, counting approximately 140,000 members. As a Confessional Lutheran church, the NALC believes all doctrines should and must be judged by the teaching of the Christian Scriptures (the Bible), in keeping with the Lutheran Confessions. The NALC is committed to shaping its life around four attributes: Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Traditionally-Grounded, and Congregationally-Focused. It was established on August 27, 2010.


The North American Lutheran Church was officially formed in August 2010 as the culmination of a process begun by Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal), a confessional Lutheran body which crosses denominational lines. This action came in response to the dissatisfaction of theological conservatives within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), which were perceived as moving away from the authority of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. The primary issue of concern for these groups was a 2009 decision by the ELCA which changed its teaching and policy on sexual ethics, allowing pastors to be in committed same-sex relationships.[3] Following Lutheran CORE's national convocation in September 2009, which resolved to pursue the "reconfiguration of North American Lutheranism", the organization's leaders released a plan for organizing the North American Lutheran Church on February 18, 2010.[4] It was felt that a new church body was needed for those Lutheran congregations who declined to join already existing Lutheran groups.

The new church was constituted in Grove City, Ohio, at the Lutheran CORE national convocation of August 26–27, 2010. The convocation was attended by approximately 1000 participants, including representatives of several denominations, such as the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, and the Anglican Church in North America. A constitution was adopted and provisional leaders were elected, including the Reverend Paull Spring of State College, Pennsylvania, a retired ELCA bishop, to serve as provisional bishop of the NALC for its first year.[5] The congregations that joined the NALC elected their own leaders at the church body's first annual meeting at August 11–12, 2011, in Hilliard, Ohio. The Reverend John Bradosky of Centerville, Ohio, NALC General Secretary, was elected as bishop of the NALC at that meeting to serve a four-year term.


The North American Lutheran Church understands itself to be part of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church and holds that the Scriptures are the highest standard by which doctrine and practice are to be judged. It accepts the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions as "true witnesses to the Word of God".[6]

The North American Lutheran Church officially disapproves of homosexual relationships and same-sex marriage. Bishop John Bradosky joined other religious leaders in the open letter, "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together - An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans", released in January 12, 2012, on his support for the protection of marriage as the union between a man and a woman and in opposition to same-sex marriage.[7] John Bradosky was one of the signants, among other American religious leaders, of the open letter "Free Exercise on Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice", expressing his support for the Roman Catholic Church in her opposition to the HHS mandate.[8]

The Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine of the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE endorsed a pro-life stance on abortion in the document "The Lord Is with You" - A Word of Counsel to the Church - The Sanctity of Nascent Life", on December 14, 2012.[9] The North American Lutheran Church became associated with Lutherans For Life, the pro-life ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, for the promotion of pro-life activism.[10]


The membership of the North American Lutheran Church is composed of congregations and ordained pastors who have subscribed to the church's constitution.[11] Provided that member congregations' beliefs and practices are compatible with the NALC, congregations can simultaneously affiliate with other Lutheran church bodies. Ministers and elected lay delegates represent their congregations in the annual convocation. This body elects the bishop, executive council, and other leadership positions. It also approves budgetary items and teaching statements.[12] Certain actions of the convocation, such as constitutional amendments and teaching statements, must first be ratified by a majority or, in some cases, a two-thirds majority of NALC congregations before they take effect.[13] The North American Lutheran Church is divided into 24 mission districts, usually based on geographical groupings of congregations.[14] Regional deans, who may also serve as pastors of local congregations, work with the bishop to provide oversight and pastoral care to pastors and congregations within their mission districts.[15]

The bishop is an ordained minister elected by the convocation. The bishop serves as "pastor for the pastors and congregations of the NALC" and as the church's chief executive officer. Together with the executive council, the bishop authorizes all ordinations and conducts the rite of ordination.[16] The bishop serves for a four year term and is eligible to serve for a maximum of three consecutive terms. The general secretary is appointed by the bishop and confirmed by the executive council. This officer manages the day-to-day administrative functions of the NALC.[17] The executive council consists of the bishop, four clergy and four lay members. Its duties include implementing the work and policies of the NALC in between sessions of convocation, and its actions are subject to review by the convocation.[18]

A seven member Court of Adjudication, elected by the annual convocation, has jurisdiction to decide appeals of church disciplinary actions and has authority to interpret church governing documents. The convocation can overturn the court's interpretation of a governing document by amending the document in question.[19]

Mission districts

The North American Lutheran Church is divided into the following 24 Mission Districts:

  • Atlantic Mission District
  • Canada Mission District
  • Caribbean and Hispanic Mission District
  • Carolinas Mission District
  • Central Pacific Mission District
  • Eastern South Dakota Mission District
  • Great Rivers Mission District
  • Heartland Mission District
  • Iowa Mission District
  • Michigan Mission District
  • Mid-Northeast Mission District
  • Mid-South Mission District
  • Minkota Mission District
  • North Texas Mission District
  • Northwest Mission District
  • Ohio Mission District
  • Rocky Mountain Mission District
  • Sonshine Mission District of Florida
  • South Texas Mission District
  • Southwest Pacific Mission District
  • Virginia Mission District
  • Western Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming Mission District
  • Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Mission District

Relations with other churches

The NALC Convocation, held in August 2011, approved unanimously the establishment of a full communion relationship with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.[20] A "Memorandum of Understanding" between the NALC and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania was approved at the Convocation held at August 2013, paving the way for full communion between the two churches.[21]

The NALC has established ecumenical dialogue with other Lutheran church bodies, such as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Lutheran Church-Canada and the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, as well as with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in North America, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.[22] The NALC passed a request to the Anglican Church in North America to share clergy where there were vacancies, which was accepted.

The NALC held an ecumenical summit with representatives of the Anglican Church in North America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Lutheran Church-Canada, on May 3-5, 2013, at the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, Texas, on the theme of "Biblical Teaching on Marriage and Sexuality". The summit issued the joint document "An Affirmation of Marriage", signed by representatives of all the four church bodies, which defined the institution of marriage as the unity between a man and a woman.[23]

At its 2012 General Convention, the North American Lutheran Church approved, by the required majority of two thirds of the voters, a resolution to seek membership in the Lutheran World Federation.[24] The application request was not approved by the LWF, remaining in a pending decision, according to a letter issued at May 2014, despite the support of the Lutheran Churches of Ethiopia and Tanzania.[25]


  1. ^ North American Lutheran Church Congregations
  2. ^ North American Lutheran Church Official Website
  3. ^ Julia Duin (Nov. 19, 2010), "Lutherans Second Church to Split Over Gays", Washington Times. Accessed October 27, 2011
  4. ^ A Vision and Plan for The North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE, a Community of Confessing Lutherans, Lutheran CORE, February 18, 2010. Accessed October 27, 2011.
  5. ^ NALC History, NALC Official Website
  6. ^ North American Lutheran Church, "Confession of Faith", accessed October 27, 2011.
  7. ^ Bishop Bradosky joins American religious leaders in defending marriage and religious freedom, January 12, 2012
  8. ^ Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice - An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to all Americans
  9. ^ "The Lord Is with You" - A Word of Counsel to the Church on the Sanctity of Nascent Life", Joint Commission on Theology and Doctrine of the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran CORE, December 14, 2012
  10. ^ Lutherans For Life Official Website
  11. ^ Constitution of the North American Lutheran Church, Article 6.01. August 15, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2011.
  12. ^ Constitution, Article 7.
  13. ^ Constitution, Articles 7 and 17.
  14. ^ NALC Mission Districts
  15. ^ Constitution, Article 11.
  16. ^ Constitution, Article 8.
  17. ^ Constitution, Article 9.
  18. ^ Constitution, Article 10.
  19. ^ Constitution, Article 15.
  20. ^ Convocation approves full communion relationship with Ethiopian Lutherans, NALC News, August 2011
  21. ^ Memorandum of Understanding between The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and The North American Lutheran Church, NALC Official Website, 8 August 2013
  22. ^ An Initial Statement on the Ecumenical and Inter-Lutheran Commitment of the North American Lutheran Church, NALC Official Website
  23. ^ The NALC Releases Ecumenical Affirmation on Marriage, North American Lutheran Church Official Website, 10 June 2013
  24. ^ LWF Ratification Results, Letter by Bishop John Bradosky, 22 February 2013
  25. ^ Lutherans left out in the cold / The North American Lutheran Church's attempt to join the Lutheran World Federation receives a critical response / by Matthew Block, First Things

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