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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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16 ELCA churches among 'excellent' 600

Sixteen ELCA congregations are among the 600 "outstanding Protestant and Catholic churches" identified by a two-year study at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

The study found that the most successful congregations take risks--with leadership, liturgy or programs. They're also welcoming, especially to newcomers who don't look or act like themselves.

Warehouse 242 in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the most untraditional congregations on the list. On Friday nights, casually dressed young people are greeted at a downtown auditorium with coffee in a travel mug to take home. Inside, rock music and preaching share the stage.

Paul Wilkes, a UNC professor, started the study after he visited a Roman Catholic church in New Jersey two years ago. "I had been to a place where religion was fun," he said. "Religion felt right. It felt honest. It wasn't stodgy, yet it was respectful."

The ELCA congregations are:

  • Incarnation, Poway, Calif.
  • Our Savior, Denver.
  • Luther Place, Washington, D.C.
  • Immanuel, Evanston, Ill.
  • Faith, Mundelein, Ill.
  • Messiah, Wauconda, Ill.
  • St. Andrew-Redeemer, Detroit.
  • St. Andrew, Mahtomedi, Minn.
  • Mount Olivet, Minneapolis.
  • Trinity, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Lord of Life, Ramsey, Minn.
  • Good Shepherd, Rochester, Minn.
  • People of Hope, Rochester, Minn.
  • Our Savior, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • First, Norfolk, Va.
  • Northlake, Kenmore, Wash.

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