Leaving the ELCA

So I thought I did this a while ago because I became Catholic. :slight_smile: But I never formally renounced my membership with the ELCA because I never notified them that I was leaving. I think I just did that a couple of minutes ago online. So hopefully all is well.

Sorry about this thread. I originally was going to ask how to formally leave but I’m pretty sure the problem is solved, but it’s too late to delete the thread now.

I guess we could get into the dilemma about being Lutheran and Catholic at the same time so that this thread has a purpose? :eek::hmmm:

What exactly is the process for leaving the ELCA?

(I’m from a very different type of church and when most people leave they just leave; a few people who want to be “proper” will write a letter to the pastor requesting to be “released” to another congregation, which is really just a formality).

For statistical purposes, there are generally two ways: (1) Inform your pastor you are leaving the congregation, and that you are not transferring to another ELCA congregation. (2) Don’t show up for communion for at least a year, and at some point, you should be taken off the roster of the congregation, and as long as you don’t become a member of another ELCA congregation, you would no longer be counted as a member of the ELCA.

As for the earlier question about being Lutheran and Catholic at the same time, that cannot occur as of yet, but if you read my blog (link is in my signature line), I think you’ll find a Lutheran who is deeply influenced by Catholic spirituality.

If you’re in the US (as the A in ELCA implies) I believe they legally have to remove your name from their membership records if you send a letter of resignation to a church official. If you aren’t already formally out and want to be, you could look into that.

Well I guess I didn’t need to inform the pastor then because of #2. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the earlier question about being Lutheran and Catholic at the same time, that cannot occur as of yet, but if you read my blog (link is in my signature line), I think you’ll find a Lutheran who is deeply influenced by Catholic spirituality.

True. But I don’t know if the Lutheran church knew that I wasn’t Lutheran because I never informed them. So for all I know they still thought I was a member. :shrug:

It doesn’t matter though, there really isn’t a point to the thread. There was supposed to be originally though. :shrug:

It matters if you want the Synod to stop sending email and if you were an active member of an ELCA parish, your pastor would like to know.

Would you be willing to discuss why you changed from Lutheran to Catholic? Like some Lutheran theologians.

Its actually the courteous thing to do - to inform the parish that you are leaving, and let them know where you intend to do.


I remember when pastors [LCMS & ELCA] would transfer a family to the closest Angilcan parish if the Lutheran parish, where they moved, did not have a weekly eucharist.

Regardless of ELCA / LCMS differences, I was received into my current LCMS parish from my former ELCA parish by transfer of membership, and we have, in the past here, participated in transfer of membership with Episcopal and Methodist parishes.


Wow, Jon. Your parish is living the Gospel in the care of the souls :thumbsup:

Well, if they go there, why be snarky? When they come to us, if they are not Lutheran, of course they go through catechesis.

They “legally” have to remove your name? I’ve never heard of that before. Do you mean legally as in complying with Lutheran church law?

Not that I’ve ever known. Each parish typically has a procedure, and it is often as Jay said, failure to avail oneself of the sacrament at least once in a year, or it might be an attendance policy. Its called self-exclusion, and either way, it is on the parish level.


After we move to California, we started to attend the Missouri Synod church that we joined. After much discussion on our beliefs about Communion and women’s ordination, the pastor allowed us to commune, he requested that we secure a letter of release from our former ELCA church back in Pennsylvania. We requested this letter, but we never received a reply. We were active in that church and were in good standing. Before we moved, the pastor wanted to recommend a church in our area.

I didn’t go through any formal process to leave the LCMS, other than telling my pastors that I wasn’t Lutheran anymore, and was (at the time) looking between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. I still get ads mailed to me by Concordia Seminary every so often…


I just stumbled onto this thread and want to understand what you said. Are you saying that the ELCA congregations keep track week to week as to who shows up for communion? If they don’t have a record of a person at communion for a year, you are taken off the roster? Is that right?

God Bless, Topper

I can’t speak for how all congregations keep track, but yes, many use cards or some form of keeping track of people who commune.

As a practical matter, if you go over a year without communing, you may not be taken off right away, but eventually, the pastor, together with church leadership, will go through the roster and remove those who have been inactive.

Lutheransl steadfastly record sacramental attendance in Europe & north America. If a family hasn’t taken holy Communion yearly, the elders/ deacons call.

As one who has very little knowledge of how other church functions, this is some of the aspects of Protestantism that always impresses me. That every parisohner is known and monitored is almost non-existence in the Catholic Church. We do have a record of who the parishioners are and perhaps from time to time there would be some kind of census but we wouldn’t know who come and who don’t let alone receiving communion. Catholics who left the faith simply did it by just not coming anymore and probably nobody would know unless their close friends or relatives.

Then other is of course your kind welcome for those who attend the service. I was invited by a friend to attend a talk in a Protestant church and to my surprise, no less than the pastor himself welcomed me. That is something one would not see regulalry in our Catholic church.

Legally, as in civil law, they do have to remove his name from the records of their church and cannot discipline him according to church law once they receive the resignation letter.

In 1981, a woman who was a member of the Church of Christ formally resigned from the church in writing. After doing so, the church refused to acknowledge the resignation and proceeded to excommunicate her. She sued and ultimately won damages. Her case went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court (see Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville).

There is a similar case of a man by the name of Norman Hancock who resigned from the LDS church in Arizona in 1985. The LDS church rejected his resignation and proceeded to excommunication him. He sued the LDS church for $18 million. They settled out of court. As part of the settlement, the LDS church changed their records to show that Mr. Hancock resigned from the LDS church and was not excommunicated. The LDS church agreed to settle because of the precedence of the Guinn case in Oklahoma.

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