WELS Numbers

As a Christian church body, our calling is to nurture the faith of our members and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Everything about the way we’re organized is designed to serve that dual purpose. We are the third largest Lutheran church body in America with 1,270 churches; 369,221 baptized members; and 293,228 communicant members. We have 12 districts to allow for more area-specific ministry, personal contacts, and member involvement.




Baptized members


Communicant members

Twelve districts

Mission work

We support world mission work in 54 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Apache reservations in Arizona. We are also exploring new mission work in 25 additional countries. We also support mission work in the United States, Canada, and the West Indies through WELS Home Missions.

United States

  • 1,270 congregations
  • 369,221 baptized members
  • 19 preaching stations
  • 2,377 teachers
  • 1,394 pastors
  • 1,342 students training for the public ministry
  • 95 staff ministers
  • 24 seminary student vicars
  • 19 non-traditional pastoral students
  • 109 seminary students


  • 454 congregations
  • 79,780 baptized members
  • 252 preaching stations
  • 9 teachers
  • 218 national pastors
  • 23 student pastors
  • 170 national evangelists
  • 19 national vicars
  • 325 Bible institute students
  • 122 seminary students

Our schools


Early childhood education ministries


Lutheran elementary schools


Area Lutheran high schools

We maintain Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis., and two preparatory high schools: Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, Wis., and Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Mich., for the education of our pastors, teachers, and staff ministers.

Our congregations—either individually or as federations—operate one of the largest Lutheran school systems in the country with 403 early childhood ministries; 313 Lutheran elementary schools ; 25 area Lutheran high schools; 2 Prep high schools; and Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis.

We run one of the largest Christian prison ministries in the nation, distributing hundreds of thousands of Bibles and Bible correspondence courses to inmates across the United States over the last 20 years.

We are a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, an organization of 24 confessional church bodies throughout the world.

Statistics are taken from WELS’ 2015 Statistical Report. School enrollment numbers are from the 2015-16 school year.


The Call Reports detail when pastors, teachers, and staff ministers change positions within WELS.


Alerts are sent to gather names for positions at the synod building, ministerial education schools, or on boards or commissions.