National Evangelical Lutheran Church

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National Evangelical Lutheran Church
Abbreviation NELC
Classification Lutheran
Orientation Confessional Lutheranism
Polity Congregational
Region Midwest, esp. Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Origin 1898
Rock Springs, Wyoming
Merged into Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (1964)
Congregations 53 (1962)
Members 11,142 (1962)
Ministers 35 (1962)
Other name(s) Finnish Evangelical Lutheran National Church of America

The National Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC) was a Finnish-American Lutheran church body that was organized in 1898 in Rock Springs, Wyoming as the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran National Church of America.[1] Although its founding had occurred in Wyoming, many of the congregations were located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, especially around Calumet.[2]

The NELC was the smallest of three Finnish-American Lutheran churches in the United States. Several years earlier, in 1890, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (also known as the Suomi Synod) had been founded in Calumet.[1] The group that formed the NELC had either left the Suomi Synod or had never joined it due to differences in doctrine and issues of congregational freedom and autonomy.[2] The other Finnish-American body was the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, founded in 1872, also in Calumet, as the Solomon Korteniemi Lutheran Society.[1]

Due to financial issues soon after 1900, the NELC sought a possible merger with the Suomi Synod. Because that synod would not accept the lay-trained pastors of the NELC, the latter opened a seminary of in Ironwood, Michigan.[2] Overtures to the Suomi Synod subsequently ceased, and the NELC instead established fellowship with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1923.[2] By 1931 the NELC had closed its seminary and was using the Missouri Synod's Concordia Theological Seminary, located at that time in Springfield, Illinois, for its pastoral training.[1][3] In 1938 a member of the NELC was appointed professor and head of the Finnish department at the seminary.[2]

The denomination changed its name to the National Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1946.[1] Eighteen years later, on January 1, 1964, the NELC merged with the LCMS.[1] However, several congregations did not join in the merger. One joined the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, and three others (Hebron in Toronto, Bethany in New York City, and National in Calumet, Michigan) became independent congregations.[2]

Presidents[edit]

The presidents of the NELC were:[1]

  • J. W. Eloheimo (1898–1900)
  • Wilhelm Adrian Mandellöf 1900–1905
  • William Williamson 1905–1908
  • Karl Gustaf Rissanen 1908–1913
  • Peter Wuori 1913–1918
  • Arne Wasunta 1918–1922
  • Karl E. Salonen 1922–1923
  • Matti Wiskari 1923–1931
  • Gustaf A. Aho 1931–1953
  • Jalo E. Nopola 1953–1959
  • Emil A. Heino 1959-1963
  • Vilho V. Latvala 1963–1964

Membership statistics[edit]

NECL Membership Statistics[4]
Year Pastors Congregations Members
1925 16 60 5,000
1929 15 65 4,625
1935 14 59 7,904
1937 - 69 -
1940 - 65 6,275
1942 - 72 5,928
1947 - 65 6,559
1950 22 71 7,147
1951 23 71 7,530
1952 26 60 6,768
1953 25 60 7,148
1954 27 58 7,906
1955 26 58 7,282
1956 33 59 7,561
1957 25 57 8,428
1958 33 57 9,195
1959 34 54 9,772
1960 29 55 10,146
1961 35 56 10,545
1962 35 53 11,142

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, and Paul Jackson, ed. (2000). "Finnish Lutherans in Americ". Christian Cyclopedia. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Steinbrenner, Ethan (1989). "A Brief Overview of the Influx of a Substantial Finnish Minority in the WELS" (PDF). Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. pp. 8–11. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ G. A. Aho (1932). "The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran National Church of America". The Lutheran World Almanac and Encyclopedia, 1931-1933. New York. pp. 61–62. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ "National Evangelical Lutheran Church (Finnish)". American Denomination Profles. Association of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved June 25, 2013.