Leadership and Partners

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 people of all genders working together toward change. 

People make change happen. In the mid-20th century, renewed vision of a theology of ministry led several Lutheran bodies to reform 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 pastors and deacons, 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, 45th Anniversary of Ordination Report and the Justice for Women theological resources. For more information about the history of the ordination of women in the Lutheran church, visit our resources.

Lutheran work on gender justice is interdependent.  A few key organizations are:

  • Women's Empowerment and Gender Justice of The Lutheran World Federation
    The Lutheran World Federation is committed to gender justice. The LWF Women's Empowerment and Gender Justice 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 (WELCA)
    Women of the ELCA, the women's ministry organization of the ELCA, has thousands of participants in thousands of congregations and commits to "mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ." 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 Men in Mission (LMM)
    Lutheran Men in Mission, the men's ministry organization of the ELCA, aims "to intentionally disciple men by personally modeling the character of Jesus by living and leading a lifestyle intended to help transform them from having an inward focus to a culture of naturally loving and serving our neighbors." Together the men encourage each other to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ and seek to create bold, daring followers of Jesus Christ.

  • Lutheran Women in Theological and Religious Studies (LWTRS)
    Lutheran Women in Theological and Religious Studies hosts an annual gathering of women who are professors, pastors, theologians, and women doing theology in a variety of capacities before the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. Born out of a desire to have a place to meet as Lutheran intellectual leaders and women of faith, this group has met annually for over 30 years for scholarship, worship, networking, and friendship. For more information, email women.lwtrs@gmail.com