Lutherans in the United States had their organizational origins predominantly in the national churches of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Many congregations retained in liturgy and fellowship the languages and social patterns of their ethnic background well into the twentieth century. In our time, however, we have come to realize that the greatest number of active Lutheran communities exists in Africa, South America and Asia. We share confessional and biblical principles and work to create opportunities for mutual support, encouragement and challenge!
St. James Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran faith community in the USA. The website of the ELCA offers many resources for understanding the resources, ministries and social impulses of our national and international constituents.
ELCA congregations in Oregon comprise the Oregon Synod, whose office staff members include Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar as well as other staff members who are resources for evangelism, stewardship and mission. Congregational representatives meet annually for a Synod Assembly to discuss regional church concerns, challenges and opportunities.
Our congregational constitution includes classically articulated tenets of Lutheran belief, central to our self-understanding:
This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
- Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
- The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world
This congregation lifts up the following confessional …
- This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
- This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.
- This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
- This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
- This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s mission in the world.
The congregation mission statement was adopted five years ago: St. James shares God’s inclusive and eternal love with everyone.
The members of St. James have been gathered together by God, to worship in Word and Sacrament, to grow in faith and understanding, and to learn, affirm and care for all other people even as God has loved and affirmed us. That God has first accepted us frees us to respond in lives of reconciliation, hope and great joy.
The members of St. James strive to live this mission to our surrounding community and in our lives in general. The proverbial “priesthood of all believers” reflects a Lutheran understanding of vocation for all – that our sense of ministry in daily life is a consequence of God’s call in whatever we do.
Our ministries and policies reflect the diversity and callings of our membership – and its response to community need. The St. James Child Development Center, the Foot Care Ministry, and the St. James Apartments have been major institutional commitments and have a solid place in the congregation and the neighborhood.
Advocacy in social issues has also been significant among our membership: we were among the first congregations in Oregon to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation (1991), articulating welcome and inclusion to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.