Southwestern Washington Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
God’s Work. Our hands.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) shares a daring confidence in God’s unlimited love and grace. For us, as the ELCA, this love is revealed through the words and actions of Jesus Christ and gives us the freedom to discover and boldly participate in what God is up to in the world.
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians, and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
The Southwestern Washington Synod is one geographical district of the ELCA. The English word synod comes from two Greek words syn + hodos that mean “common road.” A synod is the people of the congregations and other ministries traveling the way of faith together. There are 65 synods in the ELCA that are grouped into nine regions.
The Southwestern Washington Synod is made up of 87 congregations with approximately 30,000 members. We also include important Lutheran ministries, such as Pacific Lutheran University, Lutheran Community Services NW, and the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community. Our geographical area includes all of Western Washington from Federal Way/Auburn south to the Washington-Oregon border and all of the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific coast.
Giving thanks for the new life that Christ gives us, we are a community of faith that shares a passion for bringing life in all its fullness to the world. Through worship, service and education, we practice our faith, grow in our relationship with God, and make positive changes in the world.
Our Mission Statement
The Mission of the Southwestern Washington Synod is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ by empowering congregations and church leaders.
Forms & Administration
Southwestern Washington Synod also aims to provide the community with quality and valuable resources. All the forms and templates collected on our website are lawyer-approved and allow you to create an essential legal document in minutes. One such document is a last will and testament.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament helps a person ensure their property and assets will be distributed according to their wishes after death. This document must include all the property a person wants to distribute among the beneficiaries (individuals or entities receiving the money or other assets), executor’s contact details, guardian’s information (if a person has children), and other relevant terms, such as funeral arrangements and excluded beneficiaries. The last will form will help you prevent the situation where your estate is distributed according to the state laws.
Last Will and Testament by Forms by State
As a rule, state laws do not require a person to prepare a last will. However, you are highly recommended to have one. Otherwise, your property will be granted to your spouse, children, or parents and not to, for example, children from previous marriages.
If you need to prepare a last will and testament specific to your state, you may look through several templates below. Note that it's required to sign the last will document in the presence of two witnesses. The exceptions are Colorado (two witnesses or notary public), Pennsylvania (witnesses are required only in specific cases), and Louisiana (two witnesses and notary public).
Other Forms and Documents
Also, you are encouraged to analyze the documents related to our global mission and administration. These documents include compensation guidelines, different manuals, and our Constitution.
2016 Synod Clergy Compensation Guidelines
2016 AIM Compensation Guidelines
2015 Synod Clergy Compensation Guidelines for Clergy
2015 Synod Compensation Guidelines for AIM
Interim Ministry Manual (Updated April 2014)
Call Manual (Updated October 2014)
2013 Synod Constitution
ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations 2013
Guide for using Model Constitution for Congregations 2014
What Lutherans Believe In
The ELCA confesses the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In our preaching and teaching the ELCA trusts the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
ELCA teaching or theology serves the proclamation and ministry of this faith. It does not have an answer for all questions, not even all religious questions. The teaching of theology prepares members to be witnesses in speech and in action of God’s rich mercy in Jesus Christ.
We are saved by the grace of God alone—not by anything we do.
Scriptures, Creeds, and Confessions
The ELCA’s official Confession of Faith identifies the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (commonly called the Bible); the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds; and the Lutheran confessional writings in the Book of Concord as the basis for our teaching. ELCA congregations make the same affirmation in their governing documents, and ELCA pastors promise to preach and teach in accordance with these teaching sources. This Confession of Faith is more than just words in an official document. Every Sunday in worship, ELCA congregations hear God’s word from the Scriptures, pray as Jesus taught, and come to the Lord’s Table expecting to receive the mercies that the Triune God promises. Throughout the week ELCA members continue to live by faith, serving others freely and generously in all that they do because they trust God’s promise in the Gospel. In small groups and at sick beds, in private devotions, and in daily work, this faith saturates all of life.
Teaching for a life of faith
This connection to all of life is the clearest demonstration of the authority that the canonical Scriptures, the ecumenical Creeds and the Lutheran Confessions have in the ELCA. The Holy Spirit uses these witnesses to create, strengthen and sustain faith in Jesus Christ and the life we have in him. That life-giving work continues every day, as Martin Luther explained in the Small Catechism: the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.”
Like the Scriptures, the three ecumenical creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—are written documents. They originate from the earliest centuries of the Christian church’s history, a time when theological and philosophical questions about the identity of Jesus were widely debated among Christians. All three creeds affirm that God is fully present in Jesus, that Jesus Christ is both God and human (not a semi-divine or superhuman creature that is neither). These three creeds are called ecumenical because they are all accepted and used by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Christians. All three are affirmed in the Lutheran confessional writings and in the ELCA’s governing documents.
Although these three creeds, like the Scriptures, are written, most Christians experience and use them spoken aloud with other Christians in worship. Along with many other Christians, Lutherans use the Apostles’ Creed at baptism; it is also the Creed most often used in basic Christian education (as in the Small Catechism). Lutheran Christians often use the Nicene Creed at festivals like Easter and Christmas and during seasons of the year related to those festivals. Some Lutheran congregations recite the Athanasian Creed on Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) because of its focus on the relationships between the persons of the Triune God.
On many occasions in the 16th century, Martin Luther and other evangelical reformers were asked to give an account of their teaching and practice. In response Philip Melanchthon, one of Luther’s colleagues, wrote, “We must see what Scripture attributes to the law and what it attributes to the promises. For it praises and teaches good works in such a way as not to abolish the free promise and not to eliminate Christ.” Although the writings that comprise the Book of Concord engage a range of issues regarding teaching and practice, they do not address every question or topic. Rather, they focus on the Scriptures’ purpose: to present Jesus Christ to faith.
The Book of Concord includes seven writings composed by Luther and others. Lutheran churches around the world have affirmed these writings, and the ELCA affirms them in its governing documents. Lutherans most often use them in teaching—for example, when the Small Catechism is used in basic Christian instruction, or when the Augsburg Confession is used to teach women and men preparing for ministry.
Theology is a conversation. It involves speaking and listening, understanding and sharing understanding, and it consists of words written or spoken among two or more people for a specific purpose. In an evangelical faith community, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, theological conversations serve a purpose related to the Evangel, the message of good news in Jesus Christ that the Scriptures proclaim. In other words, evangelical theological conversation serves the full and free expression of the gospel in the life of the world.
Evangelical, Lutheran theology does several things. Participants in evangelical theological conversations attend to the goodness of the gospel message—the specific good that God does in Jesus Christ’s cross and resurrection. They also seek the language and actions that give the most winsome expression to this compassionate mercy and liberating hope.