Beliefs & Affiliations

 

We are evangelical Lutheran Christians. This means we believe… 

* Baptism in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit confers God’s promises to forgive our sins and to take us to heaven when we die. (=Christian) 

* Jesus died to take on the punishment for our sins. Now God sees us as sinless because of that--not because of how we live. We only have to believe it. (=Lutheran) 

* We try to live by Jesus’ teachings, show his love to others through words and actions, and teach others about God’s love. (=Evangelical) 

For more information about baptism, joining Trinity, or other faith questions, please talk to the pastor.

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ELCA:  Trinity is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA.  The ELCA is the largest Lutheran body in the United States, including nearly 10,000 congregations and 3.5 million members, organized into more than 60 geographical subdivisions, called synods.  All ELCA congregations embrace certain foundational Lutheran and Christian documents, including the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confession.

Southern Ohio Synod:  The national denomination to which Trinity belongs (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA) is divided into 65 geographic areas called synods, each of which is led by a Lutheran bishop  Trinity is one of approximately 250 congregations in the Southern Ohio Synod, which is comprised of the southern half of Ohio, including and south of Columbus, where the synod office is located.  Congregations of the Southern Ohio Synod cooperate to support staff who are available to assist congregations with training; education; conflict resolution; evangelism; stewardship; screening, training, and placement of pastoral candidates; and planting new congregations.  The Southern Ohio Synod also supports Lutheran Campus Ministry and Lutheran camping ministries.  Trinity financially contributes to the Southern Ohio Synod.  The SOS in turn takes almost half of what congregations send them and passes it along to the national ministries of the ELCA.

Beliefs:  According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America website, “The ELCA confesses the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In our preaching and teaching the ELCA trusts the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.”  For more details about what ELCA Lutherans believe, click here.

As Christian Lutherans, Trinity confesses and embraces several creeds and the Augsburg Confession as true witnesses to the Gospel.  We believe these documents speak the truth about God’s love and grace for humanity.  

Baptism and Salvation

We believe that God’s salvation is imparted to people as God’s gift, by God’s action, when they are baptized, no matter what their age or level of comprehension.  Lutherans most commonly baptize people as infants or young children, although people of any age can be baptized.  We do not ask, “When were you saved?”, because we believe people are saved at the time of their baptism, even if it was as an uncomprehending infant.  Because it is God’s gift to us, on the basis of God’s grace and not by human works, salvation doesn’t depend upon us understanding it.  The good things we do in our lives are our acts of worship in thanksgiving to a loving and generous God, not tasks or burdens we take up to earn God’s favor.  Lutherans believe that moral actions, such as good deeds, worship attendance, financial donations, or committing our lives to Christ, are all excellent and hoped-for responses to knowing that God loves and forgives us, but they are responses to--not the cause of--God’s forgiveness. 

Origins of Lutheranism

The Lutheran church began in Germany in the early 1500’s when monk and priest, Martin Luther, spoke out against what he considered to be certain non-biblical teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  Luther was excommunicated and sentenced to death for heresy, but powerful friends protected him until he and his followers were eventually able to publicly present and defend their beliefs, which became known as “Lutheranism”.  Lutheran beliefs differentiated themselves from Catholic beliefs in their conviction that we are saved by God’s grace, which we see and know through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by our own actions (specifically not by buying indulgences, which were documents for sale that promised entry into heaven). Luther also made many other reforms in church practices, such as translating the Bible so it could be read in the language of the people, instead of Latin; writing hymns; encouraging parents to teach faith at home to their children, using the Small Catechism; and allowing lay people—not only the priests—to take both the bread AND the wine at Holy Communion.

Lutheranism in the United States

As Lutherans emigrated to the New World and later the United States of America, primarily from Germany and the Scandinavian countries, they brought Lutheranism with them.  Lutheran church organizations formed in the U.S., initially organized around the native languages of the countries of origin of immigrants from various places.  Eventually, most Lutheran worship in the U.S. came to be in English, and there was no longer a need for Lutherans to remain separated into so many different language-based groups.  By 1988, three of the largest existing Lutheran church bodies had merged to form the national church organization to which Trinity belongs—the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA.

The ELCA and Social Issues

Because the ELCA was formed by the merger of three predecessor church bodies, the range of opinion and practice is broad within the ELCA with respect to social issues, worship styles, and congregational governance.  However, the ELCA periodically unites to adopt general statements of position on a variety of issues, such as abortion, care of the environment, capital punishment, etc., which are deliberated and voted on at triennial national churchwide assemblies, after long periods of study.  Not all members of all congregations will or are expected to agree with the details all these social statements, but the statements reflect the views of the largest cross-section of the denomination and its leadership.  Click here [https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society] to visit the ELCA website and read the ELCA’s social statements on a variety of social issues. 

  • The ELCA and Biblical Interpretation

The ELCA constitution states: "This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life."  This does 

ELCA clergy tend not to subscribe to a doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, but see validity in various scholarly methods of analysis to help in understanding the Bible.[22] This is in concord with most moderate Protestant bodies and in contrast to the LCMS and WELS, which practice the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation. 

  • The ELCA and the Role of Women

Women are encouraged to participate in all aspects and levels of ELCA congregational life and leadership, including ordination and service as pastors, deacons, and synodical bishops.  Women have been ordained as Lutheran pastors since the 1970s, in all three of the church organizations that merged in 1988 to form the ELCA.  There are still some congregations that have never had a female pastor, but there are a few that have had only female pastors.  The first presiding bishop of the ELCA (i.e., the bishop of the national denomination), Elizabeth Eaton, was elected in 2013.

  • The ELCA and Sexual Orientation

The ELCA has long been more generally accepting of LGBTQ persons than other Lutheran and many other Christian bodies, on several levels.  In 1991, shortly after the formation of the ELCA, the ELCA churchwide assembly passed a resolution stating that gay and lesbian people are welcome to fully participate in the lives of congregations.  That is not to say that all congregations have been welcoming in this area, but as a matter of policy, gays and lesbians are welcome in the ELCA.  The ELCA has long allowed the ordination of gays and lesbians as pastors and associates in ministry, with the stipulation that they, like heterosexual unmarried clergy, remain celibate. 

The matter of sexual orientation has been a matter of greater controversy in more recent years.  After many years of prior study and contentious discussion, the ELCA churchwide assembly voted in 2009 to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian pastors who are in “publicly accountable, monogamous relationships”.  (“Marriage” was not a legal option for same-sex couples in most places at that time.)  At that same meeting, the assembly voted to allow its pastors to conduct blessings of same-sex unions, several years before the Supreme Court of the U.S. made same-sex marriage legal in 2015.  The 2009 decisions, which are still ELCA policy, do not require congregations to call LGBTQ pastors if they choose not to.  They also do not require congregations to allow same-sex blessings, nor do they require pastors to perform same-sex blessings.  However, each of these is now allowed in the ELCA.  The first openly gay synodical bishop was elected in 2013, and the first transgender pastor was ordained in 2015. 

There is still great variety regarding how open individual ELCA congregations are to people of non-traditional sexual orientations and gender identities.  Some congregations are intentional about being places where LGBTQ persons are welcome.  These are likely to openly identify themselves as such.  Many congregations that hold openly conservative views about sexual orientation, and which disagreed with the ELCA’s 2009 decisions, have already left the ELCA.  This leaves a large number of remaining ELCA congregations that are neither openly hostile nor openly welcoming, where LGBTQ persons must decide on a case-by-case basis whether they feel at home there.  Click here [https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Human-Sexuality] to read the ELCA’s social statement on human sexuality.

  • Full-Communion Agreements

ELCA congregations have much in common with several other protestant denominations, which also formed after, and in some cases as a result of, the Lutheran Reformation.  In fact, the ELCA has “full communion” agreements—meaning that we can exchange pastors and share worship services--with the following denominations: the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, the Moravian Church, and the Episcopal Church.  If you embrace the beliefs and practices of any of these denominations, you’re likely to feel at home at Trinity.