Lutheran Church in America
The LCA's immigrant heritage came mostly from Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, Denmark and Finland, and its demographic focus was on the East Coast (centered on Pennsylvania), with large numbers in the Midwest and some presence in the Southern Atlantic states.
Theologically, the LCA was often considered the most liberal and ecumenical branch in American Lutheranism, although there were tendencies toward conservative pietism in some rural and small-town congregations. In church governance, the LCA was clerical and centralized, in contrast to the congregationalist or "low church" strain in American Protestant Christianity. With some notable exceptions, LCA churches tended to be more formalistically liturgical than their counterparts in the American Lutheran Church. Among the Lutheran churches in America, the LCA was thus the one that was most similar to the established Lutheran churches in Europe.
The LCA ordained the country's first female Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Elizabeth Platz, in November 1970. In 1970, a survey of 4,745 Lutheran adults by Strommen et al., found that 75% of LCA Lutherans surveyed agreed that women should be ordained, compared with 66% of ALC Lutherans and 45% of LCMS Lutherans.
The LCA was a founding member of the Lutheran Council in the United States of America, which began on January 1, 1967.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many of the independent U.S. Lutheran church bodies moved progressively toward greater unity. In 1960, for example, a number of such bodies joined to form the American Lutheran Church.
The Lutheran Church in America was another product of these trends, forming in 1962 out of a merger among the following independent Lutheran denominations:
- The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), established in 1918 with the merger of three independent German-American synods: the General Synod, the General Council and the United Synod of the South. This group provided the bulk of the eventual LCA's membership.
- The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Suomi Synod), established in 1890.
- The American Evangelical Lutheran Church, traditionally a Danish-American Lutheran denomination, established in 1872.
- The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, traditionally a Swedish-American Lutheran denomination, established in 1860.
The merger was largely engineered through the efforts of Franklin Clark Fry, who had served as president of the United Lutheran Church in America since 1944 and president of the Lutheran World Federation since 1957. Fry was known by contemporaries as "Mr. Protestant," a moniker that captured his tireless work on behalf of greater ecumenical unity among Protestant church bodies.
Merger into the ELCIC and ELCA
On January 1, 1986, Lutheran Church in America-Canada Section merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. On January 1, 1988, the Lutheran Church in America ceased to exist when its US section, along with the American Lutheran Church and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, joined together to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), today the largest Lutheran church body in the United States. At the time of the merger, the LCA remained the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, and it brought approximately 2.85 million members into the ELCA.
Title changed to Bishop in 1980.
Colleges and Seminaries of the LCA
- Augustana College (Illinois), Rock Island, Illinois
- Bethany College (Kansas), Lindsborg, Kansas
- California Lutheran College, Thousand Oaks, California
- Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
- Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota
- Lenoir Rhyne College, Hickory, North Carolina
- Midland University, Fremont, Nebraska
- Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina
- Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia
- Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
- Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania
- Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey (now closed)
- Wagner College, Staten Island, New York
- Waterloo Lutheran University, Waterloo, Ont., Canada
- Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio
- Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa
- Suomi College, Hancock, Michigan (2-yr.) (now 4 year Finlandia University)
- Hamma School of Theology, Springfield, Ohio (shared with ALC; Merged with Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary to form Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio in 1978)
- Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Illinois
- Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada (shared with ELCC)
- Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina
- Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota; (shared with ALC)
- Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California (shared with ALC)
- Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Waterloo, Ont., Canada
- 1962 LCA Constituting Convention, Detroit, Michigan
- 1964 LCA Convention, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- 1966 LCA Convention, Kansas City, Missouri
- 1968 LCA Convention, Atlanta, Georgia
- 1970 LCA Convention, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1972 LCA Convention, Dallas, Texas
- 1974 LCA Convention, Baltimore, Maryland
- 1976 LCA Convention, Boston, Massachusetts
- 1978 LCA Convention, Chicago, Illinois
- 1980 LCA Convention, Seattle, Washington
- 1982 LCA Convention, Louisville, Kentucky
- 1984 LCA Convention, Toronto, Ontario
- 1986 LCA Convention, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- 1987 LCA Closing Convention, Columbus, Ohio
- See Merton P. Strommen et al., A Study of Generations (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, 1972), p. 272.
- Gilbert, W. Kent. Commitment to Unity: A History of the Lutheran Church in America. p. 111.
- Gilbert, W. Kent (1988). Commitment to Unity: A History of the Lutheran Church in America. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. ISBN 0-8006-0891-7.
- Nichol, Todd W. (1986). All these Lutherans: Three paths toward a new Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Augsburg. ISBN 978-0-8066-2208-8.
- ELCA predecessor church bodies
- Wolf, Edmund Jacob. The Lutherans in America; a story of struggle, progress, influence and marvelous growth. New York: J.A. Hill. 1889.