Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

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The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (or WELS) is the third largest Lutheran church body in the United States of America. In recent years it has spread to much of the U.S. from its Wisconsin base. The church reported 1263 churches in 2005 with 314,000 full members and 1844 clergy.

WELS emphasizes Lutheran confessionalism, the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible, and the Symbolic Books of Lutheranism. Religiously conservative, WELS opposes ecumenical associations and runs its own parochial schools. Calvary Evangelical Luthern Church, founded in 1931 and located near the WELS seminary, is representative, stressing Christian education rather than ritualism and liturgy. WELS is rooted in German pietism; family life, Bible study, prayer life, and conversion are all points of emphasis in the WELS tradition.

WELS is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference .


The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod was founded on May 27, 1850 in Granville, Wisconsin as "The German Evangelical Ministerium of Wisconsin." It was later incorporated into the Wisconsin Synod in 1864 and formed the Synodical Conference with the Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Norwegian and Illinois Synods in 1872. In 1892, the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan Synods formed a Federation which was expanded in 1904 by the joining of the Nebraska Synod. The Federation later in 1917 merged into what is now known as the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.[1]

In 1869 the Wisconsin Synod joined in fellowship with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod which lasted until 1961 when the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod broke fellowship with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod over doctrinal issues and attempts in the Missouri Synod to establish fellowship with the American Lutheran Church. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod officially broke from the Synodical Conference in 1963.


  1. http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=778&contentID=2340&shortcutID=4781

Further reading

  • Brug, John F., Fredrich II, Edward C., Schuetze, Armin W., WELS and Other Lutherans. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1995. ISBN 0-8100-0543-3.
  • Leppien, Patsy A., Smith, J. Kincaid, What's Going on Among the Lutherans?. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1992. ISBN 0-8100-0427-5.

External links