Although we are part of one of the largest Christian groups in the world, we Lutherans aren't very well known in Canada.
Part of the reason is that there aren't very many of us in Canada.
We Lutherans, active and inactive, form a bit more than two percent of Canada's population.
The ELCIC is a young denomination. We began in 1986, through the merger of two Lutheran groups which in turn resulted from other mergers before that. In 1998 our ELCIC claimed loyalty from about 200,000 members. You will find us in many of the country's major cities, in southwestern Ontario, sprinkled across the Prairies and in pockets in the rest of the country such as Nova Scotia's South Shore.
We call ourselves evangelical because it is a word deeply rooted in our history. Notice the word "angel" in the middle? In the Bible, angels are God's messengers. The word evangelical means "those who share good (or God's) news." Although we're no angels, we try to share God's grace by the way we live.
Evangelical is the name that has been used to describe us as far back as the 1520s, long before it took on other connotations in North America. It describes the church that organized around the teachings of Martin Luther with the gospel as the centre of those teachings.
We call ourselves Lutherans because we base our beliefs on the teachings of Martin Luther, an Augustinian priest who lived in the sixteenth century. Luther wasn't trying to start a denomination; he was trying to reform the church.
The first Lutheran services in Canada were conducted in Churchill, Manitoba, in the fall of 1619, by the Rev. Rasmus Jensen, a chaplain who accompanied an ill-fated Danish expedition, searching for the Northwest Passage.
For much of our history in Canada, we have been a church of immigrants. When we met together, we often used the language we brought with us because it was more comfortable for us to worship God that way. Hearing about God's love in words we understood made us feel more at home in a strange land.
Today English is the primary language used in the ELCIC. However, some of our congregations still use the languages we brought with us—Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Swedish. We are also reaching out to other newcomers and sometimes use Spanish, the major Chinese dialects and Vietnamese. In Montreal, we've begun to use French a bit.
No matter what language we speak, we hope to provide you with a gracious welcome and that you will experience the love of God among us.