The Lutheran Church began as a reform movement in Northern Europe within the Christian church in 1517. This movement centered on God’s Word in Jesus Christ as a word of grace and forgiveness that leads people into a trusting response of faith and love. Martin Luther was the leader of this movement at its beginning. Lutheran means literally a follower of Luther, though Luther himself said we are all followers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even so, the name remained.
Lutheran Churches can be found across the globe, with concentrations of Lutherans in Germany and Scandinavia, East Africa, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Worldwide there more than 70 million Lutherans. In the US, the ELCA is one of several Lutheran churches, with 3.5 million members.