The Lutheran church bodies of today can trace their roots directly to the Protestant Reformation that took place in Europe in the 16th century. Followers of Martin Luther’s teachings were labeled “Lutherans” by their enemies and adopted the name themselves. Lutheran beliefs became widespread, especially in Germany and the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland), later spreading throughout the world as early explorers took their faith with them on their voyages.

Lutheranism came to the Americas that way; some of the earliest settlers in the Americas were Scandinavian, Dutch, and German Lutherans. As early as the 1620s, there were Lutheran settlers in the states now known as New Jersey and New York.

As people migrated to the New World, they continued to speak and worship in their native languages and use resources from their countries of origin. Europeans from a various regions would migrate to a particular region in America and start their own churches. As the number of these congregations grew, scattered groups would form a “synod” or a church body, and as the nation expanded, so did the number of Lutheran church bodies. (Adapted from elca.org/communication/roots.html)

A significant number of Lutheran church bodies continue to exist throughout the world. The list to the left provides a glimpse into those known to us within North America. While there may still be some current Lutheran church bodies that exist because of cultural backgrounds, today, a number of them are a result of differences in doctrine and practice.

Suggested additions or deletions from this list can be forwarded to debra.albers@valpo.edu in the Church Relations office at Valparaiso University.

Lutheran Church Bodies in North America

AALC
American Association of Lutheran Churches
ALCA
Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
AFLC
Association of Free Lutheran Congregations
CALC
Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations
CLA
Conservative Lutheran Association
(formerly World Confessional Lutheran Association)
CLBA
Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America
CLBC
Church of the Lutheran Brethren Canada
CLC
Church of the Lutheran Confession
CLC
Concordia Lutheran Conference
ELCA
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
ELCM
Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium of North America
ELCIC
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
ELDONA
Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America
ELS
Evangelical Lutheran Synod
EELK
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
GLC
General Lutheran ​Church
ILC
Illinois Lutheran Conference
LCA
Lutheran Church of Australia
LC-I
Lutheran Church-International
8224 S Park Ave.
Springfield, IL 62704
LLC
Laestadian Lutheran Church
217.726.6220
LELCA
Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
2140 Orkla Drive
Golden Valley, MN 55427-3432
612.546.3712
LCC
Lutheran Church – Canada
LCCF
Lutheran Conference of Confessional Fellowship
LCMC
Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
LCMS
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
LMS-USA
The Lutheran Ministerium and Synod-United States of America
LCR
Lutheran Churches of the Reformation
MLC
Missionary Lutheran Church
NALC
North American Lutheran Church
RLC
Reformation Lutheran Confernece
WELS
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
WCLA
World Confessional Lutheran Association