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United Lutheran Church in America, The.

Organized in a conv. November 14–18, 1918, NYC, by merger of General* Council of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in N. Am., The General* Syn. of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in the USA, and The United* Syn. of the Ev. Luth. Ch. in the S.; ceased to exist 1962 with formation of the Lutheran* Ch. in Am.

I. Leaders of the 3 groups held meetings 1877, 1878, 1898, 1902, 1904 (see also Diets, Lutheran, in America). The 3 groups issued a Common Service 1888. By 1909 a Home Mission Arbitration Commission was formed. Doctrinal differences were removed 1911 by const. amendment in the Gen. Syn. Direct impetus for merger grew out of preparations for joint observance of the Reformation quadricentennial 1917, by work of the Nat. Luth. Commission for Soldiers' and Sailors' Welfare, and by formation of the National* Luth. Council.

All constituent syns. of the 3 groups, except the Augustana Syn. (see Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10), entered the merger. Preamble to the ULC const. said: “We … invite and until such end be attained continue to invite all Evangelical Lutheran congregations and synods in America, one with us in the faith, to unite with us.”

Const., Art. II, Doctrinal Basis: “Section 1. The United Lutheran Church in America receives and holds the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God, and as the only infallible rule and standard of faith and practice, according to which all doctrines and teachers are to be judged.

“Section 2. … accepts the three ecumenical creeds … as important testimonies drawn from the Holy Scriptures ….

“Section 3. … receives and holds the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a correct exhibition of the faith and doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, founded upon the Word of God ….

“Section 4. … recognized the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalkald Articles, the Large and Small Catechisms of Luther, and the Formula of Concord, as in the harmony of one and the same pure Scriptural faith.”

II. Statistics. As a result of realignment and other factors, the number of constituent syns. changed from 45 in 1918 to 32 in 1962. The Icelandic Ev. Luth. Syn. of (N.) Am. joined the ULC 1942; the Slovak Ev. Luth. Zion Syn. joined the ULC 1920. See also United Lutheran Church in America, The, Synods of).

The ULC grew from ca. 2,800 to more than 5,100 ministers, from ca. 3,700 to nearly 4,700 congs., from ca. 907,500 to nearly 2 1/2 million bap. mems., from ca. 775,400 to nearly 1,7000,000 confirmed mems., from ca. 3,600 to ca. 4,700 Sunday Schools (from ca. 540,000 to more than 800,000 pupils, from ca. 53,900 to ca. 107,000 staff mems.). Ch. property value rose from ca. $54,900,000 to nearly $752 million and local expenditures from ca. $5 1/2 million to more than $101,700,000 a yr..

III. Following chs. developed under auspices of the Bd. of For. Missions were received 1950. as affiliated chs.: (1) The Luth. Ch. in the Andhra Country of india; formed 1927 by amalgamation of the Guntur and Rajahmundry Syns.; reorganized 1944. (2) The Ev. Luth. Ch. in Jap.; traces its hist. to 1892; formally organized Tokyo 1931; reorganized after WW II; see also Japan. (3) The Ev. Luth. Ch. of (or in) Brit. Guiana (see South America, 12). (4) The United Ev. Luth. Ch. (Argentina); organized 1947/48. (5) The Ev. Luth. Ch. in Liberia; see Africa, C 7.

IV. The ULC held membership in National* Luth. Council, Federal* Council of the Chs. of Christ in Am., LWC, The Lutheran* World Fed., National* Council of the Chs. of Christ in the USA, World* Council of Chs.

V. ULC organizations included Luther League of Am. (see also Young People's Organizations, Christian, II 2), United Luth. Ch. Men., United Luth. Ch. Women.

VI. Pres.: F. H. Knubel* 1918–December 31, 1944; F. C. Fry* January 1, 1945–62. WT, TGT

See also American Lutheran Church, The, I; Lutheran Council in Canada, 2; Students, Spiritual Care of, B 2.

T. E. Schmauk, “Historical Report of the Merger,” Minutes of the First Convention of The United Lutheran Church in America (New York, [1918]), pp. 37–42; A. R. Wentz. A Basic History of Lutheranism in America, rev. ed. (Philadelphia, 1964), pp. 269–286; J. L. Neve, History of the Lutheran Church in America, 3d ed. W. D. Allbeck (Burlington, Iowa, 1934), pp. 342–356.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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