United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India
Nearly three out of ten of Asia's Lutherans live in India, where Protestant missions began work in 1706. India's Lutheran churches, established by German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and American mission societies and boards, extend from the far north/north east to the southern tip along the eastern part of India. In 1853 the first Evangelical Lutheran synod was held at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. In 1905 a Lutheran general conference was held in Kodaikanal with representatives from five missions. In 1926 the constitution of the Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India was presented. The common liturgy was approved in 1935. In 1947, a convention at Ranchi proposed the formation of a United Lutheran Church in India. Lutheranism found new meaning by changing the constitution of the FELCI so that it became the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India in 1975. In 1998 the name was changed to United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India.
The following eleven churches belong to UELCI:
- Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Arcot Lutheran Church
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in The Himalayan States
- Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Good Samaritan Evangelical Lutheran Church
- India Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church
- South Andhra Lutheran Church
- Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Through the UELCI the eleven member churches participate collectively in the WCC and the CCA, but they are individual members of the LWF.
Lutherans in India have been pioneers in composing indigenous lyrics to Indian tunes. Primary concerns of the churches include developing programmes sponsored by the Division of social action; awareness-building on the need to fight poverty, hunger and unemployment; self-reliance in matters of theology, publications and finance; effective participation in the Indian ecumenical movement; global partnership as a task of each Christian community; and improvement of the training of ministers at Gurukul Theological College and Research Institute, Dalit movement, gender justice, HIV/AIDS, water, disaster relief, etc.
The UELCI maintains close relations with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, the ELM, Gossner Mission, the Danish Missionary Society, the Church of Sweden Mission, Norwegian Church Aid, and Danmission.