1999, the ELCA votes to approve "Called to Common Mission," an ecumenical "full communion" agreement with the Episcopal Church. Under this agreement, the ELCA took on the requirement that our pastors be ordained into the "historic episcopate," a practice of a few denominations requiring a hand-to-hand succession from one bishop to the next which is supposedly traceable back to the earliest apostles. Only such ordinations (or a rarely allowed exception) are considered valid in the ELCA post-CCM.
2001, after a Churchwide Assembly vote of more than 83% in 1999 affirming the ELCA's then-current policies on homosexual ordination (basically, celibacy was the requirement if you understood yourself to be homosexual but wanted to be ordained), in 2001 the ELCA voted to begin a denomination-wide study on sexuality issues. The writing was on the wall for those who could see, and in August 2009 by just under 67% we reversed the 1999 decision.
Those two events on this graph are positioned at the brow of the hill, more or less, and now we are in rapid descent. We had almost 5.3 million members in 1988, and today we're at about 4.5 million. What a ride.