As Lutherans our beliefs are centered on God’s grace. As Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” The distinction is that we can do nothing to earn or un-earn God’s salvation. Forgiveness is God’s gift to humanity. Because we are loved by God, we feel called to love our neighbors. We strive to act like Christ, not because we will be rewarded if we do, but because God’s grace compels us to do so. We know that the more we act like Christ, the happier and healthier we will become.
Martin Luther actually disliked the term “Lutherans” because he did not want to be the center of the Reformation. Luther preferred the term, “Evangelicals” (which had a different connotation than it does today) because it comes from the word, “evangelion” which means “the gospel” or “the good news”.
In the spirit of compromise, the early Lutheran churches in various countries started calling themselves the Evangelical Lutheran Church of (wherever they are from). As a result, our church body is called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, similar to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, Norway, or Kenya. You can discover more about the ELCA at elca.org.
We acknowledge that our sisters and brothers in other faith communities have beautiful and vibrant faith practices. The ELCA is in “full communion” with Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Episcopalians, Reformed Church of America, and the United Church of Christ. You can read more about what this means here.
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In the spirit of reform, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church have been in dialogue regarding our mutual desire to follow Christ. Both church bodies are willing to discuss what unites us, which is far greater than what divides us.
At Augsburg, we practice open communion with anyone who has taken communion anywhere else (including children), and we offer first communion classes for anyone who wants to learn.
We baptize infants and adults. Since there is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace, Lutheran baptism is “grace based” rather than “faith based.” In the event of infants, the parents and sponsors promise to raise the child among God’s faithful people and place the scriptures in their hands when the time comes.
We also practice the rite of Confirmation for youth as they transition to becoming adults. As Luther himself was a student and professor, Lutherans believe highly in education and conversation. Confirmation runs in the Spring Semester for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Students and is taught by a combination of pastors, staff, and lay teachers.
For more theological conversation, feel free to attend a Sunday School class, bible study, or contact a pastor.