Church Relations

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

While the LCMS is a uniquely North American church body, it has relationships of varying degrees with 70 other Lutheran church bodies in 58 countries around the globe.

Needless to say, all of these church bodies are unapologetically Lutheran, confessing — at a minimum — the three ecumenical creeds and the Augsburg Confession.

The LCMS communicates and cooperates with these other church bodies in many areas, such as ecumenical relations, theology, theological education, mission, and mercy.

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  • The LCMS Office of Church Relations

    The President shall be the chief ecumenical officer of the Synod … He or his representatives shall represent the Synod in official contacts with other church bodies (Bylaw (a)).

    The LCMS President is the chief ecumenical officer of the LCMS and, as such, has the primary responsibility for managing these many relationships.

    Because of the size and ever-growing scope of these relationships, the LCMS President delegates this authority to a unit within his office called the Office of Church Relations, which manages these many international relationships under his direction and on his behalf.

    The Office of Church Relations, then, serves as the official channel through which inter-church cooperation takes place in the LCMS. On behalf of the LCMS, then, the Office of Church Relations:

    • engages in church-to-church relations with national Lutheran church bodies;
    • engages in church-to-church relations with international Lutheran church bodies;
    • engages in ecumenical relations with national non-Lutheran church bodies;
    • deploys representatives of the LCMS President around the world;
    • provides scholarships and other support for theological education around the world;
    • represents the LCMS in international fora such as the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF); and
    • connects LCMS members, pastors, and congregations in North America to other church bodies around the world.

Global Seminary Initiative

Global Seminary Initiative

The Global Seminary Initiative utilizes resources by offering the very best theological education to pastors and church leaders worldwide.

The biggest impact is through scholarships for Lutheran international students at LCMS seminaries, a vital effort because it feeds the next generation with in-depth study of God’s Word by their own leaders.

 Learn more

 GSI Case Document

 Support the Global Seminary Initiative

International Trips & Visits

International Trips & Visits

International projects and service trips have become a popular alternative for individuals and congregations that have the resources to make a significant contribution to international mission work and also want to have a personal, cross-cultural experience that enables them to feel more connected to the beneficiaries of their project.

If you might be interested in undertaking an international project or service trip, first prayerfully consider the Synod’s best practices for short-term mission.

 Short-Term Mission Best Practices

International Relationships

  • Church Fellowship
  • Article VI: Church Fellowship

    At the 2010 LCMS Convention, the Synod passed Resolution 8-30B titled, “Congregations Walking Together in Mission with Covenants of Love To Study Article VI of the Synod’s Constitution.”

    The resolution noted that Article VI of the Synod’s constitution has been misunderstood, in particular the clauses, “Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description;” “Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school;” and “examination and approval of [congregation’s] constitution and bylaws by the district.”

    Resolution 8-30B resolves, among other things, “That the President of the Synod in consultation [with COP, CTCR, CCM] ... make provisions for the preparation of materials that explain the biblical, confessional, and historical basis for Article VI of the Synod’s Constitution.”

     Church Fellowship resources


  • Dialogue With Other Church Bodies
  • The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations in 2011 adopted a report entitled “Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies.”

    The report concludes: “At no point, however, should dialogue with other Christians be allowed to deny or to gloss over areas of theological disagreement. Authentic ecumenical dialogue must always be in the service of the truth of God’s Word, centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church has no higher treasure.”

     Download and read report


  • Policies
  • In 2014, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations adopted and revised a policy entitled “Policy for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Declaring Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with Another Church Body.” The report begins:

    “Article III of the constitution of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod lists as the first objective of the Synod that:

    The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall—Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10), work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies, and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.

    This policy statement describes the procedure which The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod follows in declaring Church Fellowship with another church body.”

     Download and read report


  • Existing Relationships
  • Partner Churches

    A partner church is a church body with whom the LCMS has full altar and pulpit fellowship.

    Argentina — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina

    Brazil — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil

    Canada — Lutheran Church—Canada

    Chile — Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile

    Denmark — Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark

    France — Evangelical Lutheran Church—Synod of France

    Germany — Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Ghana — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana

    Guatemala — Lutheran Church in Guatemala

    Haiti — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti

    Hong Kong — Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod

    India — India Evangelical Lutheran Church

    JapanJapan Lutheran Church*

    * For over 13 years, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has encouraged, exhorted, and convened theological discussions with the Japan Lutheran Church (JLC) to uphold the clear teaching of the infallible Word of God, as held by the historic confessional Christian Church, that only men may be ordained to the pastoral office, that is, the preaching office.

    Sadly, tragically, and against the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, the JLC in its April 2021 convention codified the ordination of women to the pastoral office as its official doctrine and practice. This adoption of false doctrine and practice breaks the confession and unity of the true faith and makes it impossible for the LCMS to continue to recognize and practice altar and pulpit fellowship with the JLC.

    Barring a change in the doctrine and practice of the JLC, the serious matter of the formal cessation of altar and pulpit fellowship will be brought before the Synod at its next convention in July 2023.

    Kazakhstan — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Almaty

    Kenya — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya

    Korea — Lutheran Church in Korea

    Latvia — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia

    Liberia — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia

    Lithuania — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lithuania

    Mexico — Lutheran Synod of Mexico

    Nigeria — Lutheran Church of Nigeria

    Norway — Lutheran Church in Norway

    Papua New Guinea — Gutnius Lutheran Church

    Paraguay — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay

    Philippines — Lutheran Church in the Philippines

    Russia — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria

    Russia — Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church

    South Africa — Lutheran Church in Southern Africa

    South Africa — Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa

    Taiwan — China Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Togo — Lutheran Church of Togo

    United Kingdom — Evangelical Lutheran Church of England

    United States — The American Association of Lutheran Churches

    Uruguay — Lutheran Church of Uruguay

    Venezuela — Lutheran Church of Venezuela


  • Emerging Relationships
  • Allied Churches

    The LCMS has allied relationships with the following churches.

    Australia — Lutheran Church of Australia

    Belgium — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium

    Bolivia — Evangelical Christian Lutheran Church of Bolivia

    Cambodia — Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia

    Czech Republic — Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic

    Czech Republic — Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession

    Ethiopia — Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus

    Finland — Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland

    Indonesia — Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church

    Kazakhstan — Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan

    Nicaragua — Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua

    Norway — Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway

    Peru — Evangelical Lutheran Church—Peru

    Portugal — Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Rwanda — Lutheran Mission in Africa—Synod of Thousand Hills

    Sierra Leone — Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church—Sierra Leone

    South Africa — Confessional Lutheran Synod of South Africa

    South Sudan — South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Sweden — Mission Province in Sweden

    Tanzania — Lutheran Church of East Africa

    Turkey — Istanbul Lutheran Church

    Uganda — Lutheran Church of Uganda

    Ukraine — German Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Ukraine

    United States — The Lutheran Ministerium and Synod—USA


    Emerging Relationships

    The LCMS has nascent dialogue with the following church bodies.

    Burma — Myanmar Lutheran Church

    Colombia — Confessional Lutheran Church of Colombia

    Ethiopia — Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church

    Madagascar — Malagasy Lutheran Church

    Malaysia — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia

    Norway — Evangelical Lutheran Denomination

    Norway — Norwegian Lutheran Mission

    Singapore — Lutheran Church in Singapore

    South Sudan — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sudan and South Sudan

    Tanzania — Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania


LCMS and LCC Joint Statement on Koinonia Meetings — 2023

LCMS and LCC Joint Statement on Mission and Ministry in Canada — 2022

Joint letter from LCMS President Harrison and presidents of WELS and ELS to U.S. Attorney General — 2022

LCMS, LCC and NALC Leaders Release Joint Statement on Scripture — 2016

LCMS, LCC and ACNA release interim report on ecumenical dialogue — 2016

Report on Meetings with ELS, LCMS, and WELS Leaders — 2012–2015

The ELCA/Reformed Formula of Agreement in Confessional Lutheran Perspective — 1999

The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in Confessional Lutheran Perspective — 1999

The Porvoo Statement and Declaration in Confessional Lutheran Perspective — 1999

A Response to “The U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Report VIII: The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary” — 1994

A Response to “The U. S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue Report VII: Justification by Faith” — 1992

The LCMS Response to the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches to the Text of “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” — 1985


Sending Workers & Funds Overseas

Starting in 1911, the LCMS began to take measures to ensure that its expanding international work was carried out efficiently and in good order. This resulted in a series of evolving decisions and resolutions to this end, the last of which was a Convention action in 2010 that established the current text of Bylaw 3.8.3


Journal of Lutheran Mission

The Journal of Lutheran Mission is an electronic publication of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, focused on a uniquely Lutheran approach to mission.

International Lutheran Council

The ILC is a worldwide association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.


The Wittenberg Project

The goal of The Wittenberg Project is to honor our Lutheran heritage as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by nurturing and strengthening the faith of Christians and introducing the Christian faith to non-Christians, especially those living in and around Wittenberg as well as the thousands of people from around the world who visit this historic place each year.


Join Us

You can help make a difference in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s relationships with Lutheran church bodies around the globe.

 Support the Office of Church Relations

Statements & Stories

Partner Churches – Reporter
Marks of the church: May ‘LW’
Tuesday, May 16, 2023 1:34:28 PM

LCMS and LCC Joint Statement on Koinonia Meetings
Friday, April 21, 2023 11:55:50 PM

LCMS and LCC Joint Statement on Mission and Ministry in Canada
Friday, December 9, 2022 5:53:54 PM

International Lutheran Council issues statement on persecution of Finnish church
Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:00:57 AM

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

Consistent with Synod Board policy and in recognition of a more challenging economic and philanthropic/fundraising environment due to inflationary pressure, not more than 12.5 percent of any charitable contribution will be allocated to administering gifts and communicating with contributors (compared to a not-more-than ceiling of 10.5 percent the previous fiscal year). Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

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