WELS is a group of nearly 400,000 men, women, and children in nearly 1,300 congregations across the United States and Canada united by a common faith in Christ's saving love. We are committed to a common calling—encouraging each other in our faith and sharing God's gift of a Savior with the rest of the world.

What's in a name?

Our acronym stands for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. We admit, it's a mouthful. But each word is significant.

Wisconsin is where three pastors serving German immigrants joined together in a common fellowship more than 150 years ago. Today, it is still where more than half of our membership calls home—but now we have congregations spread all across North America and missions spanning the globe.

Evangelical is a Greek word. Literally translated it means "gospel oriented." It is an apt description, for the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the core of all we believe and proclaim.

Lutheran refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation in Germany. God used Luther to point out the errors of the church some 500 years ago—that salvation was something that must be earned. It was Luther who once again made clear that salvation is received through faith in Jesus as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Synod literally translated means "walking together." As a fellowship of Christians, we walk together as individuals and congregations sharing a common bond of faith in Jesus articulated in the Lutheran Confessions.

We invite you to walk with us.

Our mission statement

As men, women, and children united in faith and worship by the Word of God, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod exists to make disciples throughout the world for time and for eternity, using the gospel in Word and sacrament to win the lost for Christ and to nurture believers for lives of Christian service, all to the glory of God.

WELS Christians accept the entire Bible as the error-free Word of God, a position that impacts everything from beliefs about Jesus to stances on social issues.

WELS leaders—from our president on down—work first as servants of God and, second, of our synod.

Workers at the national headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis., coordinate and support ministry work that WELS congregations do together.

Get all the synod information you need through WELS' official reports.

Wisconsin is where three pastors serving German immigrants joined together in a common fellowship more than 150 years ago.

With 400,000 members and more than 1,200 congregations, we are the third largest Lutheran church body in America. The Midwest is our roots, but the world is our mission field.