Women's leadership naturally depends upon the development of women's gifts. At the same time, successful women's leadership depends upon a church and a society ready to receive and support women as leaders. Such movements in the church and the world depend upon women and men working together toward change.
Such change is evident in the ELCA and its predecessor bodies. In the 1800s, European Lutheran immigrant women led through service; they fed and housed their neighbors and established hospitals and international missions for Lutheran church bodies. They saw needs and met them.
In the mid-20th century, changes in a theology of ministry led several Lutheran bodies to change their traditions — they ordained women for the first time in 1970. During the same period, women started to earn advanced degrees in Scripture and theology; today women are institutional presidents and CEOs, bishops and tenured professors. Challenges within the church that women continue to face are both social and theological.
To learn more about the ELCA’s inclusive theology of ministry, race- and gender-specific statistics on rostered women’s ministries, and theological and social analysis of sexism in church and society, see the 45th Anniversary of Ordination Report.
The Lutheran World Federation is committed to gender justice. The Women in Church and Society network works toward the full participation of women in the communion’s life and pursues this commitment at all levels of the federation. The ELCA is a member church of the federation and works collaboratively to support global gender justice. Explore the LWF Gender Justice Policy - the first of its kind.
Women of the ELCA, the women’s organization of the ELCA, has thousands of participants in thousands of congregations. Together the women are committed to growing in faith, affirming their gifts, supporting one another in their callings and engaging in ministry and action that promotes justice and wholeness for all people.
Lutheran Women in Theological and Religious Studies
Born out of a desire for women academics to have a place to meet as Lutheran thinkers, Lutheran Women in Theological and Religious Studies hosts and annual meeting of women professors, pastors, theologians, and women doing theology.