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Typical Steps for Joining the North American Lutheran Church

Congregational Discernment

Before a congregation votes to join the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), there should be a process for congregational discernment. We encourage sharing with the congregation as much information as possible regarding the NALC, as well as offering opportunities for conversation among the congregation.

Bible study and prayer are other spiritual exercises that should be provided, so that the decision by the congregation is in accord with God’s will and the mission of the church.

NALC representatives are available to provide information for congregational use and to speak with the congregation, if desired.


  1. A congregational meeting is held according to the provisions of the congregation’s constitution. The resolutions shall include the congregation’s acceptance of the constitution of the North American Lutheran Church and the decision to become a congregation of the NALC. The resolutions to join the NALC will hopefully carry the support and endorsement of the church council of the congregation. The vote required is whatever is specified in the congregation’s governing documents; normally, a majority vote of those members present is sufficient for adoption of the resolution.
  2. Following favorable action on the resolutions, a letter is sent on church letterhead by the congregation to the NALC Bishop and General Secretary. This letter shall include the date and the results of the voting on the resolutions described in (1) above and request that the NALC Executive Council receive the congregation into the NALC. The letter should be signed by the pastor(s) and the congregational president/vice president. If the congregation is without a pastor, two congregational officers should sign the letter.
  3. If a congregation is also disaffiliating with the ELCA, the letter should indicate that the congregation followed its current constitution with regard to disaffiliating and has made the appropriate and required contact with the synod bishop’s office.
  4. If they have not done so already, the pastor(s) under the call of the congregation will write a letter to the General Secretary requesting certification as an ordained minister within the North American Lutheran Church, or otherwise requesting authorization from the NALC to serve the congregation. The General Secretary will proceed with the process for certification or authorization.
  5. Other ordained ministers who may be members of the congregation (retired, on leave, in special ministry), as well as individuals serving in commissioned lay ministries, may also communicate with the General Secretary if they have not done so already, requesting certification within the NALC. The General Secretary will proceed with the process for certification for them.
  6. The congregation will take those actions that may be required in revising the congregation’s constitution, articles of incorporation, and other official documents, so that these documents will reflect the congregation’s membership within the North American Lutheran Church. The NALC Model Constitution for Congregations may be used as a guide as the congregation revises its constitution.
  7. When the Executive Council approves the congregation’s request to become a member congregation and approves the request of the pastor(s) and other ordained and commissioned lay ministers in the congregation to become ordained and commissioned lay ministers of the NALC, appropriate certificates of welcome will be sent to the congregation, pastors and commissioned lay ministers.
  8. The congregation is encouraged to hold a special service of celebration for its reception as a congregation of the North American Lutheran Church. A representative of the NALC will be available to attend and/or participate, as desired.