The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America resulted from a union of three North American Lutheran church bodies: The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America. The church began operations on January 1, 1988. The ELCA meets in assembly every two years; at its 2001 Churchwide Assembly it elected its third bishop, The Rev. Mark S. Hanson. The ELCA has more than 5 million baptized members and 2.5 million communing and contributing members in 10,851 congregations, with 17,651 clergy. There are 8 ELCA seminaries and one deaconess community, and 28 ELCA affiliated colleges and universities in America. Visit http://www.elca.org for more information.