The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone (ELCSL) was founded in May 1988 by a group of indigenous lay Christians. It was registered with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rural Development in April 1989 as required by the Laws of Sierra Leone.
Under the guidance and inspiration of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah J. Sinnah-Yovonnie, then Director for Global Community, Division for Global Mission in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) the ELCSL was partnered with the ELCA from which it gained financial support and ecclesiastical guidance. In this vein, the ELCA in 1990, supported the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) to commission Rev. Edward and Mrs Parmata Ishaya as missionaries to the ELCSL; while local personnel for the ordained ministry of the Church were being trained abroad.
ELCSL was admitted to full membership of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in 1990.
In 1994 the first crop of five Lutheran Seminary trained candidates returned from abroad and were ordained as Pastors on the 4th of February 1996 in a ceremony attended by representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) led by the RT. Rev Mark B. Herbener, Bishop of the Norther Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod (NT-NL) as well as the RT. Rev. Sumoward Harris, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL). The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) and the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) collaborated to provide spiritual and Episcopal guidance to the ELCSL during its early years. The Rev. Tom J. Barnett, one of the five ordained ministers was elected President and Head of the Church.
In line with its revised constitution adopted at its 4th General Assembly in 2003, the Rev. Tom J. Barnett was elected the first Bishop of the ELCSL. The Bishop is both the administrative and ecclesiastical head of the Church which has a current registered membership of about 5000 baptized and communicant Lutherans in 22 congregations all over the Sierra Leone. These congregations are served by 13 other ordained pastors and 22 lay Evangelists.Geographically, the church is divided into four jurisdictions: the Western Area (Freetown) and three Provinces: Southern, Eastern, and Northern.