American Lutheran Church

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The American Lutheran Church (ALC or sometimes TALC) was a Christian Protestant denomination in the United States that existed from 1960 to 1987. Its headquarters was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Upon its formation in 1960, the ALC designated Augsburg Publishing House (est. 1891), also located in Minneapolis, as the church publisher. The Lutheran Standard was the official magazine of the ALC.

The ALC's immigrant heritage came mostly from Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, and its demographic center was in the Upper Midwest (with especially large numbers in Minnesota). Theologically, the church was influenced by pietism. It was slightly more conservative than the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), with which it would eventually merge, and officially taught biblical inerrancy in its constitution (although seldom enforced it by means of heresy trials and the like).

The ALC was a founding member of the Lutheran Council in the United States of America, which began on January 1, 1967. The ALC cooperated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in many ventures, but ties would end when talks concerning a merger with the Lutheran Church in America began.

In 1966, Canadian congregations of the ALC formed the autonomous Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCC), which in 1986 joined with the Lutheran Church in America – Canada Section (LCA-CS) to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

The ALC began ordaining women as ministers in December 1970, when the Rev. Barbara Andrews became the second woman ordained as a Lutheran minister in the United States. In 1970, a survey of 4,745 Lutheran adults by Strommen et al., found that 66% of ALC Lutherans surveyed agreed that women should be ordained, compared with 75% of LCA Lutherans and 45% of LCMS Lutherans.[1] The first Native American woman to become a Lutheran minister in the United States, the Rev. Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, was ordained by the ALC in July 1987.


The American Lutheran Church was formed in 1960 out of the following Lutheran church bodies:

American Lutheran Church (1930)[edit]

The first American Lutheran Church was formed in 1930 from a merger of the German Iowa Synod (est. 1854), Buffalo Synod (est. 1845) and the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio (est. 1818). After 1960, this body was informally referred to as the "old American Lutheran Church," to distinguish it from the body of the same name into which it had been absorbed.

Presidents of ALC[edit]

Colleges of the ALC[edit]

Seminaries of the ALC[edit]

Evangelical Lutheran Church[edit]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church, established in 1917 and known from its founding until 1946 as the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (NLCA). The NLCA had itself been formed from a merger of the Hauge Synod (est. 1876), the Norwegian Synod (est. 1853) and the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (est. 1890).

United Evangelical Lutheran Church[edit]

The United Evangelical Lutheran Church, founded in 1896 and known until 1946 as the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church. The UDELC had been formed from a merger of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Association in America (or Blair Church) (est. 1884) and the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (or North Church) (est. 1894).

Additional member[edit]

The American Lutheran Church was joined in 1963 by the following Lutheran church body:

Lutheran Free Church[edit]

The Lutheran Free Church, which had broken away from the United Norwegian Lutheran Church in 1897, joined The ALC on February 1, 1963. (Forty Lutheran Free Church congregations chose not to participate in the merger, and instead formed the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, today the fifth-largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. with over 250 congregations.)


The site of the ALC's former headquarters now serves as the Hennepin County Jail

On 1 January 1988, the American Lutheran Church ceased to exist when it, along with the Lutheran Church in America and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, joined together to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. At the time of the merger, the ALC was the third-largest Lutheran church body in the United States, behind the Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The ALC brought approximately 2.25 million members into the ELCA. Twelve ALC congregations that did not want to participate in the merger formed the American Association of Lutheran Churches, which has since grown to 87 congregations.

Presidents/Presiding Bishops of ALC[edit]

Use of the term Presiding Bishop approved in 1980.

Colleges and seminaries of ALC[edit]



National Conventions[edit]

  • 1960 ALC Constituting Convention, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1962 1st, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 1964 2nd, Columbus, Ohio
  • 1966 3rd, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1968 4th, Omaha, Nebraska
  • 1970 5th, San Antonio, Texas
  • 1972 6th, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1974 7th, Detroit, Michigan
  • 1976 8th, Washington, D.C.
  • 1978 9th, Moorhead, Minnesota
  • 1980 10th, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1982 11th, San Diego, California
  • 1984 12th, Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota
  • 1986 13th, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1987 Closing convention, Columbus, Ohio


  1. ^ See Merton P. Strommen et al., A Study of Generations (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, 1972), p. 272.

Todd W. Nichol All These Lutherans (Minneapolis: Augburg Publishing House, 1986)

External links[edit]

History of the bodies that eventually joined into the ALC

Note: The below papers reflect the viewpoints of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), a conservative body opposed to ecumenism.