|What we believe - Where we are - A little bit of history|
What we believe
The SELK is a confessional Lutheran Church. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are indeed the revelation and the inspired Word of God. We believe that the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as they are contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, are the true explanation of God's Word. These Confessions are:
the three ecumenical Creeds (the Apostolic, the Nicene and the Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Small and the Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther and the Formula of Concord.
You can read a version of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism in modern German when you click here.
The Word of God contains Law and Gospel, both of which are to be clearly distinguished. The Law shows us how we are supposed to be according to God's will and that we always fail in fulfilling His will as long as we live in this world. The Gospel shows us Christ, who has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, and grants us forgiveness so that we are acceptable in God's eyes.
»For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.« (John 3:16, NIV)
Regarding the Sacrament of the Altar we confess:
It is part of our history and heritage that the SELK is located more in some parts of Germany than in others. We do have about 40.000 church members in almost 200 congregations. Most of them are in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Hesse. About 140 pastors serve in the congregations.
The SELK is an independent church body. It does not recieve subsidies from the state but rather it finances itself by the offerings of its members. The SELK does have its own seminary for the education of pastors. This seminary is located in Oberursel, north of Frankfurt. The SELK also has its own mission society and a couple of institutions to care for the needy, such as hospitals or nursing homes.
The SELK is not a member of the Lutheran World Federation, because we believe that altar and pulpit fellowship equals church fellowship. Together with other confessional Lutheran church bodies, the SELK forms the International Lutheran Council, ILC.
If you want to know the location of a SELK-congregation in Germany, please contact the church's headquarters.
The main reason for their thoughts was the conviction that there cannot be different doctrines that exclude each other in one church body. The major example is the difference in the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar between Lutheran and Reformed theology. The confessional Lutherans were persecuted at this time by the state. Many of them were not allowed to have church services or get their children baptized or confirmed according to the liturgy of the Lutheran Church. In some areas of Germany, it took decades until the Confessional Lutherans were granted religious freedom.
In 1972 most of the Confessional Lutheran Church bodies in Germany formed the SELK. In 1991 the Evangelisch-Lutherische (altlutherische) Kirche [Evangelical-Lutheran (Old-Lutheran) Church] in the former GDR joined the SELK (this wasn't possible before). So nowadays almost all of the Confessional Lutheran Churches in Germany are joined together in the SELK.