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The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) Collection

Identifier: S024
Records consist of documents relating to the formation and early years of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). Included are proposals for the founding of a new conference, minutes from initial planning meetings, various revisions of the first CELC constitution, reports and information relating to the constituting convention of the CELC in 1993 and its second convention in 1996, budgets and financial reports, and extensive correspondence relating to the CELC and the WELS’ CICR.


  • 1965 - 1997

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


1 Box : 1 record box containing 27 file folders numbered 1-27

Biographical / Historical

Ever since the break-up of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America in the 1960s, a desire was expressed among confessional Lutheran church bodies, including the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), for a new international organization based on the same scriptural and confessional principles as the former conference. A concrete proposal adopted by the Commission on Inter-Church Relations (CICR) of the WELS was met with favorable responses by conventions of both the WELS and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) in 1986. A Planning Committee of three members from each synod was appointed.

Years of thought and planning finally came to fruition when the constituting convention of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) was held on April 27-29, 1993 in Oberwesel, Germany. In attendance were 13 church bodies as charter members and approximately 80 delegates and other participants.

Since that constituting convention, the CELC has held triennial conventions in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico (1996), Winter Haven, FL (1999), Gothenburg, Sweden (2002), Narita, Japan (2005), Kiev, Ukraine (2008), and New Ulm, MN (2011). Future conventions are scheduled for Lima, Peru (2014) and Grimma, Germany (2017). 24 member churches worldwide now make up the CELC.

The mission of the CELC is as follows:

To give outward expression to the unity of spirit and oneness in faith and confession that binds the members of the Conference together;

To provide a forum for the members' mutual encouragement, spiritual growth, and strengthening in faith and confession;

To promote and strengthen the existing unity in scriptural doctrine and practice among the member churches and to seek to remove whatever might threaten to disturb or disrupt that unity;

To encourage the members of the Conference to be zealous in sharing their Lutheran heritage of the pure and unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not yet know and believe in Jesus as their Savior;

To give a clear, firm, and united testimony to the world concerning all that the Bible, the verbally inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God, teaches;

To encourage and undertake the preparation and publication of clear Scripture-based confessional statements on issues that confront the church from time to time and which may or may not be addressed in the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580.


Records are arranged by document type and in ascending chronological order, when possible.

Custodial History

The custodial history of the following records is not fully known. It is assumed that the records were accrued by Professor Wilbert Gawrisch, who served as a member of the initial CELC Planning Committee and was also elected as the first president of the CELC. This is assumed because the vast majority of the correspondence in this collection was either written by or addressed to Professor Gawrisch. The presence of these records was first recorded in the WELS Archives in October 2008. Materials were received in good condition and order, and no restrictions were placed upon the records.


The records in this collection cover only the early history and first two conventions of the CELC. Since the CELC continues to function and grow, additional accruals are anticipated.

Repository Details

Part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Archives Repository