Who We Are

synod map 2024

Who We Are

The Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA walks together as a community-in-mission: we are the congregations, people, communities and ministries of the ELCA in Southwestern Washington.

The Synod staff, in collaboration with the Synod Council, are called to accompany, support, equip and encourage the Synod body through facilitation, resourcing, stewardship, connection and pastoral care.

Geographically, the Southwestern Washington Synod is that portion of western Washington State from the Columbia River in the south up through Tacoma to Federal Way, Auburn and Enumclaw in the north. It then curves westward around the Puget Sound (Salish Sea) to include all of the Olympic Peninsula. Our Synod, then, reaches from the Columbia River to Canada, and from the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean.

We acknowledge that this land and water is the traditional territory of 16 federally recognized Native American tribes: the Chehalis, Cowlitz, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute, Quinault, Shoalwater Bay, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, and Suquamish, as well as additional tribes not recognized by the federal government, including the Chinook.  The surrounding mountains, valleys, shorelines, and waterways are imbued with their presence. We seek to nurture our relationship with our Native American neighbors and our shared responsibilities to this place, their homelands, where we mutually abide.

The ministry of our Synod is carried out by the 30,000 members and leaders of our 88 congregations and special ministries, including chaplains, deacons, mission developers, and our partner ministries, such as Lutheran Community Services NW, Pacific Lutheran University, and the Faith Action Network.  Our Synod Office is in Tacoma, WA.

The Southwestern Washington Synod is one of 65 synods that comprise the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  We are part of Region I of the ELCA, which is made up of the six synods in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska.  The word “synod” comes from the Greek language and means “walking the road together”.