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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A look at ELCA through years

Ups, downs & promise of future

This issue features blasts from the past as we highlight the 25th anniversary of the ELCA.

We brought back the masthead that was as new as the denomination in January 1988. The Lutheran as we know it today as the magazine of the ELCA succeeded The Lutheran of the Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran Standard of the American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Perspective of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. (The magazine can track its history directly back to the 1831 launch of The Lutheran Observer of the General Synod.)

The 1988 masthead anchored the front page until June 1996. Our masthead since then returns next month. Watch for a new look to the cover and the entire inside of The Lutheran starting with the January 2014 issue.

We also pulled out contributions to "Light side" (page 45) and some first letters to the editor to appear in The Lutheran (page 49). A review of letters from 1988 to the present shows little is new, with some liking what the ELCA and magazine do, others panning both, and some topics such as sexuality, biblical authority and denominational advocacy garnering praise or condemnation.

The author of our cover story (page 20) is uniquely qualified to write this piece. Charles Austin is a retired ELCA pastor who was director of news for the LCA in the years just prior to the ELCA merger. He is also a former religion writer for The New York Times. His account leaves us with a sense of hope for the future.

We peppered the piece with fact boxes, comparing statistics from 1988 with today. The box at the bottom right reveals what The Lutheran cost then and now, while the graphic below shows its circulation over the decades.

At the start of the ELCA the magazine was purchased for nearly all member households by synods and some congregations. Today a minority of congregations have subscription plans for members, although there has been an uptick in the past few months. Like the ELCA in general, the magazine has faced its share of issues over the years. We remain confident of the future for The Lutheran.


The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

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