WELS is a group of nearly 400,000 men, women, and children in nearly 1,300 congregations across the United States and Canada united by a common faith in Christ’s saving love. We are committed to a common calling — encouraging each other in our faith and sharing God’s gift of a Savior with the rest of the world.
What’s in a name?
Our acronym stands for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. We admit, it’s a mouthful. But each word is significant.
Wisconsin is where three pastors serving German immigrants joined together in a common fellowship more than 150 years ago. Today, it is still where more than half of our membership calls home — but now we have congregations spread all across North America and missions spanning the globe.
Evangelical is a Greek word. Literally translated it means “gospel oriented.” It is an apt description, for the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the core of all we believe and proclaim.
Lutheran refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation in Germany. God used Luther to point out the errors of the church some 500 years ago — that salvation was something that must be earned. It was Luther who once again made clear that salvation is received through faith in Jesus as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Synod literally translated means “walking together.” As a fellowship of Christians, we walk together as individuals and congregations sharing a common bond of faith in Jesus articulated in the Lutheran Confessions.