Association of Free Lutheran Congregations
|Association of Free Lutheran Congregations|
|Region||United States and Canada|
|Headquarters||3110 East Medicine Lake Blvd.|
Plymouth, Minnesota 55441
|Separated from||Lutheran Free Church|
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Association of Free Lutheran Congregations is the sixth largest Lutheran church body in the United States. The AFLC includes congregations from the former Lutheran Free Church before 1963, in 27 different states, as well as four Canadian provinces. The AFLC is not an incorporated synod, but a free association. Each local congregation is a separate corporation. Minnesota is the geographic center of the organization, with over 80 congregations and over 12,000 members. There are also numerous congregations in the neighboring states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The AFLC headquarters are in Plymouth, Minnesota along with the Association Free Lutheran Bible School and Seminary.
The AFLC logo is the open Bible that is symbolic of God's word as the foundation of faith and life. The Ascending Dove is symbolic of the freedom of congregation, and the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Green Vine is symbolic of the living congregation bearing fruit for God.
The AFLC was formed by 40 churches in 1962. The churches that formed the AFLC were members of the former Lutheran Free Church who did not wish to join The American Lutheran Church in 1963, an earlier merged multi-ethnic denomination formed in 1960. The body was originally called the Lutheran Free Church-not merged. The ALC filed suit against the group for using the name Lutheran Free Church. By 1964, the name Association of Free Lutheran Congregations was chosen. In 2006, the AFLC had 43,360 baptized members in 267 churches. In 2009, the AFLC had 277 pastors, 280 congregations, and 44,473 members.
The AFLC accept and believe in the Holy Bible as the complete written Word of God, preserved by the Holy Spirit for salvation and instruction. The AFLC accepts the ancient ecumenical symbols, namely, the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds; Luther's Small Catechism and the unaltered Augsburg Confession as the true expression of the Christian faith and life.
Five principal reasons for the formation of the AFLC:
- Recognizes the Bible as the inspired and inerrant authority in all matters of faith and life.
- Recognizes that the teaching and preaching of God's Word is the main task of the Church, to be conducted in such a way that the saints are built up and unbelievers see their need for salvation.
- Believes that the congregation is the right form of the Kingdom of God on earth, with no authority above it but the Word and the Spirit of God;
- Believes that Christian unity is a spiritual concept, not a man-made organization such as the World Council of Churches or the National Council of Churches.
- Believes that Christians are called to be a salt and light, separated from the ways of the world, and that this difference is to be reflected in the life of the congregation as well as in the institutions of the church body.
Committees and corporations
The AFLC has five corporations that are sponsored by the AFLC to direct their common endeavors: the Coordinating Committee, the Schools Corporation, the Missions Corporation, the AFLC Foundation and the Association Retreat Center (ARC. There are two auxiliary corporations in the AFLC: the Women's Missionary Federation (WMF) and Free Lutheran Youth (FLY).
The coordinating committee consists of seven members from the congregations currently part of the AFLC. The main duties of the coordinating committee includes monitoring the pastoral roster, monitoring the congregational roster, and providing guidance for the other ministries of the AFLC, including youth, evangalism, parish education, etc.
The schools corporation's main delegation is the election of the board of trustees, which governs the Association Free Lutheran Bible School and Seminary (AFLBS). This corporation consists of fifty members from the congregations of the AFLC. The AFLC leaders came to the consensus to create a Lutheran Bible School patterned after the fundamental teachings of the Lutheran Bible Institute founded in 1919. The school was opened in 1966 with 13 students but grew to 35 the next year. By the 1990s, the AFLBS was averaging 105 students. Today there are approximately 200 students attending the school.
The missions corporation consists of one hundred members of the congregations of the AFLC, and elects from itself a World Missions Committee and a Home Missions Committee, which are involved in the outreach of the AFLC into the United States and several other countries.
Association Retreat Center
The Association Retreat Center (ARC) is a separate organization of the AFLC near Osceola, Wisconsin that serves as a retreat center for various activities within the AFLC.
The Women's Missionary Federation (WMF) serves the women of the churches with Bible studies, fellowship, and has an emphasis on missionary services.
The Free Lutheran Youth (FLY), is a youth organization dealing with youth ministry.
The official publication of the AFLC is "The Lutheran Ambassador", with twelve issues per year devoted to Bible-centered articles and news of the churches. Ambassador Publications is the parish education department of the AFLC.
The "Ambassador Hymnal" is the hymnal published by the AFLC, which contains over 600 hymns as well as selected order of church services and responsive Bible readings.
Presidents of the AFLC
|John P. Strand||1962-1978|
|Robert L. Lee||1992-2007|
|Elden K. Nelson||2007-2013|
The AFLC schedules each year a conference to share reports of congregations and other various ministries. The main reason for these conferences is spiritual edification, as the schedules include prayer times, worship hours, and business meetings together. It is here that suggestions to changes are presented and discussed. It is also here that the elections for positions in committees/corporations are made.
- 1963 Fargo, North Dakota
- 1964 Valley City, North Dakota
- 1965 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1966 Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- 1967 Fargo, North Dakota
- 1968 Cloquet, Minnesota
- 1969 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1970 Valley City, North Dakota
- 1971 Cloquet, Minnesota
- 1972 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1973 Ferndale, Washington
- 1974 Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- 1975 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1976 Hancock, Minnesota
- 1977 Fargo, North Dakota
- 1978 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1979 Whitefish, Montana
- 1980 Valley City, North Dakota
- 1981 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1982 Dickinson, North Dakota
- 1983 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 1984 Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1985 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 1986 Warm Beach, Washington
- 1987 Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- 1988 DeKalb, Illinois
- 1989 Minot, North Dakota
- 1990 Bloomington, Minnesota
- 1991 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 1992 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 1993 DeKalb, Illinois
- 1994 Valley City, North Dakota
- 1995 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 1996 Stanwood, Washington
- 1997 Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- 1998 Red Wing, Minnesota
- 1999 Fergus Falls, Minnesota
- 2000 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 2001 Williston, North Dakota
- 2002 El Campo, Texas
- 2003 Brookings, South Dakota
- 2004 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 2005 Valley City, North Dakota
- 2006 Stanwood, Washington
- 2007 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- 2008 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- 2009 Fergus Falls, Minnesota
- 2010 Plymouth, Minnesota
- 2011 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- 2012 Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- 2013 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 2014 Valley City, North Dakota
- 2015 Stanwood, Washington
- 2016 Osceola, Wisconsin
- 2017 Plymouth, Minnesota
- 2018 Dickinson, North Dakota
- "2000 Religious Congregations and Membership Study". Glenmary Research Center. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
- "2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches". The National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
- "Lutheran Free Church". American Denomination Profiles. Association of Religion Data Archives. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- "A Brief Study of the Lutheran Churches in America" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-03-28.