Canadian Lutherans Reflect Church's History: A View of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

By Gilbertson, Leon C. | Anglican Journal, November 1996 | Go to article overview
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Canadian Lutherans Reflect Church's History: A View of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


Gilbertson, Leon C., Anglican Journal


LUTHERANS FIRST CAME to Canada more than 200 years ago when German tradesmen accompanied Governor Cornwallis to the new fortress of Halifax. Many settlers followed settling in Lunenburg County. A century later, following the American Revolution, Lutherans were among the United Empire Loyalists who settled along the St. Lawrence.

Then, in Central and Eastern Canada the ethnic origin of the Lutherans was predominantly German, while in Western Canada there were many Scandinavian settlements. However, Lutherans in Canada reflect a wide spectrum of ethnic backgrounds, including German, Austrian, Polish, Romanian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic.

Since the Second World War immigrants have also come from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and in more recent times, many Chinese have arrived.

By the 1960s there were three major Lutheran Churches in North America, with congregations in both the United States and Canada. In the 1970s discussions began among all of the major Lutheran churches in Canada to form one autonomous Lutheran Church. This dream was not to be.

The Canadian part of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod chose to withdraw from the plan, in part because it was proposed that the new Lutheran Church would accept women in the ordained ministry. In 1986 the remaining two Canadian Lutheran groups merged and became an autonomous Lutheran Church, with the name the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

The head office of the ELCIC is in Winnipeg. The church is organized regionally into five synods with prime responsibility for supervision of congregations and pastors. The ELCIC is headed by a national bishop and each synod is headed by a bishop.

Both the national church and each synod have a council responsible for decisions which pertain to their area of responsibility.

The synod bishops are advisory (nonvoting) members of the national church council. The ELCIC meets in convention every two years.

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