What is the difference between ELCA and Missouri Synod churches?

Like many other denominations, the Lutheran Church has different branches (synods). The two dominant synods of the Lutheran Church are Evangelical Luthern Church in America (ELCA) and the MIssouri Synod (LCMS). Generally speaking, the ELCA (to which Augustana belongs) is more liberal than the conservative Missouri Synod.


For instance:

  • Women can be pastors in ELCA congregations, but not in churches of the Missouri Synod.​

  • In ELCA churches, communion is offered to all--Methodists, Presbyterians, EMC's--our table is open to anyone. Missouri Synod's table is "closed" to all except Missouri Synod Lutherans. 

  • Ordained pastors from other denominations may officiate at ELCA services and, in some cases, can serve communion. Not so in the Missouri Synod.

  • The Missouri Synod has very strong statements condemning abortion as a sin against the 5th commandment; the ELCA does not take a stand against abortion as sin and allows for it as a viable option in various situations.

  • The ELCA allows for practicing homosexuality (even among its clergy) and does not condemn homosexuality as sin.  The Missouri Synod says that homosexuality is a sin.  If an LCMS clergyman is found to be a practicing homosexual he is removed from office.

  • The Missouri Synod believes that the Lord’s Supper is the actual body and blood of Christ and says that those who deny the real presence of Christ are holding views contrary to Scripture.  The ELCA, while saying the Lord’s Supper is the body and blood of Christ, also grants as valid other views which deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament.