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Evangelical Church in Germany ( , abbreviated as EKD) is a federation of 22 regional Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant church bodies. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding, because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches have full pulpit and altar fellowship among each other.

Only one member church (the Evangelical Reformed Church) is not restricted to a certain territory. In a certain way the other member churches (Gliedkirchen) resemble dioceses of the Anglican or Catholic Church from an organisational point of view. However, the member churches of the EKD are independent with their own theological and formal organization. Most member churches are led by a (state) bishop. One of the regional leaders is elected Council Chairman (Ratsvorsitzender) of the EKD by the Synod and Church Conference. All regional churches of the EKD are members of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.


Most member churches of the EKD are either Lutheran (9) or "United" (11) (Lutheran-Reformed). Only two member churches are Reformed churches (the Evangelical Reformed Church and the State Church of Lippe).

In Northern and Eastern Germany, the major religion is Protestantism, the Reformed branch in the extreme northwest, and the Lutheran branch in most of the rest. While the majority of Christians in Southern Germany are Roman Catholic, these regions include some mainly Protestant areas as well, e.g. in the state of Baden-Württembergmarker and Bavariamarker.

The vast majority of German Protestants (30.8% - reduced further to 30.5% in 2006 - and 30.2% in 2007 - of the overall German population) belong to a member church of the EKD. Important Protestant denominations that are not part of the Evangelical Church in Germany include the Evangelical Methodist Church (about 62,000 members), the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church (SELK, about 37,000 members), Baptists organized in the Bund evangelisch-freikirchlicher Gemeinden (Union of Protestant Free-Churches, about 85,000 members), Pentecostals organized in the "Bund Freier Pfingstgemeinden" (Union of Pentecostal Free-Churches, with 43,500 adult members or 120,000 family members), Seventh-day Adventist Church, about 36,000 members and the New Apostolic Church (350,000 members).

Ordination of women is practiced in all 22 churches within the Evangelical Church in Germany, and many women have been ordained during recent years. There are also several female bishops. Blessing of same-sex unions is practiced in some churches within the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber has been Chairman of the Council of the EKD since 2003. He is the bishop of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia. On October 28, 2009, Margot Käßmann, bishop of the Evangelical Church of Hanover, was elected to replace him as he goes into retirement. She is the first woman to head the EKD.


Until the end of World War I, some Lutheran and Evangelical churches in Germanymarker were closely tied to the monarchies in the German states if the respective dynasty was of Protestant faith (see Confederation of the Rhinemarker, German Confederationmarker, North German Confederationmarker, German Empiremarker). All those church bodies, covering the territory of former monarchies with a ruling Protestant dynasty, had been state churches until 1918 - except of the Protestant church bodies of territories annexed by Prussia in 1866. Other Protestant churches had been no less territorially defined Protestant minority church bodies within states of Catholic monarchs, where the Roman Catholic church played the role of state church. The expression Landeskirche (State Church) originally meant that it was the official Protestant church of the respective German state. If the ruling dynasty was Protestant these official Protestant churches were established churches with the local Prince, Duke, Grand Duke, or King (e.g. the King of Prussiamarker headed as summus episcopus the Evangelical Church of Prussia's older Provinces) as formal head of church (like the Queen in the Church of England).

This changed somewhat with growing religious freedom in the 19th century, especially forwarded in the three republican German states of Bremen, Lübeck and Hamburg. But the greatest change came when all of Germany became a republicmarker in 1918 and the princes of the German states abdicated. The churches nevertheless are still called Landeskirchen, and most have this term in their official names; a more modern English translation would perhaps be regional church. Apart from some minor changes, the territories of the different member churches today reflect Germany's political organisation in the year 1848, with state churches of states or provinces that don't exist any more. (In 1947 the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union split into provincial churches for each Prussian province because the state of Prussia was dissolved according to the Treaty of Potsdam).

After in 1918 the system of state churches had disappeared with the monarchies in the German states, the question arose, why the Protestant church bodies within Germany do not merge. Besides the smaller Protestant denominations of the Mennonites, Baptists or Methodists, which were organised crossing state borders along denominational lines, there were 28 church bodies organised along territorial borders of German states or Prussian provinces. In fact, a merger was permanently under discussion, but never materialised due to strong regional self-confidence and traditions as well as the denominational fragmentation into Lutheran, Calvinist and Union churches. In 1922 the then 28 territorially defined Protestant church bodies founded the German Evangelical Church League ( ), which was no new merged church, but a loose federation of the existing independent church bodies.

Only in July 1933 was the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (DEK, ) formed. The DEK had been formed under the German Christians' influence, and the National Socialists had major influence on the decisions of the first National Synod, via their unambiguous partisanship in successfully backing Ludwig Müller for the office of Reich bishop. He did not manage, however, to prevail over the Landeskirchen in the long term, however, and after the installation of Hanns Kerrl as minister for church matters in a Führer-directive of 16 July 1935, and the foundation of the Protestant Reich Church, the DEK played more or less no further role.

In 1948, freed from the German Christians' influence, the Lutheran churches, the Reformed churches and the United Churches came together as the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, or EKD), at the Conference of Eisenach. In 1969 the churches in the German Democratic Republic (East Germanymarker) broke away from the EKD and formed the Bund der Evangelischen Kirchen in der DDR (the League of Evangelical Churches in the German Democratic Republic). In June 1991, following German reunification, the BEK merged with the EKD.

Federative principles

Germanmarker Protestant church structures are based on federal (in the German sense) principles at all levels. Each local church is responsible for Christian life in its own area, while each regional church has its own special characteristics and retains its independence. The Church carries out joint tasks with which its members have entrusted it.

Central governing bodies

The Church has the following governing bodies, all organised and elected on democratic lines:

They are responsible for fulfilling the Church's tasks as laid down in its constitution.

The 22 member churches

The 21 member churches associated with a geographical territory.
Click image for legend.
The umbrella of the Evangelical Church in Germany comprises 22 church bodies, 2 Reformed (Calvinist), 9 Lutheran and 11 united bodies.

  1. Evangelical State Church of Anhalt, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Landeskirche Anhalts
  2. Evangelical State Church of Baden, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern
  4. Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche in Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz

    - originated 2004 from:
  5. Evangelical Lutheran State Church in Brunswick, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche in Braunschweig
  6. Bremian Evangelical Church, a united church body, :de:Bremische Evangelische Kirche
  7. Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Hanover, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers
  8. Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau
  9. Evangelical Church of Hesse-Kassel and Waldeck, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck
  10. Lippe State Church, a Reformed church body, :de:Lippische Landeskirche
  11. Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Mecklenburg, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Mecklenburgs
  12. Evangelical Church in Central Germany, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland

    - originated 2009 from:
  13. North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, a Lutheran church body, :de:Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche
  14. Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Oldenburg
  15. Evangelical Church of the Palatinate, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz
  16. Pomeranian Evangelical Church, a united church body, :de:Pommersche Evangelische Kirche
  17. Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland
  18. Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Saxony, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Sachsens
  19. Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Schaumburg-Lippe, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Schaumburg-Lippe
  20. Evangelical Church of Westphaliamarker, a united church body, :de:Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen
  21. Evangelical State Church in Württemberg, a Lutheran church body, :de:Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg
  22. Evangelical Reformed Church - Synod of Reformed Churches in Bavaria and Northwestern Germany, a Reformed church body, covering the territories of No. 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 14, and 19, :de:Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche - Synode evangelisch-reformierter Kirchen in Bayern und Nordwestdeutschland

Independent organisations of member churches in the EKD

  • VELKD: Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands (United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany)
  • UEK: Union Evangelischer Kirchen (Union of Evangelical Churches in Germany)
  • Confederation of evangelical churches in Lower Saxony

Associate Members

Institutes and important offices of the EKD

  • Brot für die Welt, Stuttgartmarker (counterpart to Bread for the World)
  • Diakonisches Werk (DW), Stuttgart
  • Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Stuttgart
  • Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED), Bonn
  • Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland e.V. (EMW)
  • Gemeinschaftswerk der Evangelischen Publizistik gGmbH (GEP), Frankfurt am Main
  • Evangelisches Zentralarchiv, Berlin
  • Kirchenrechtliches Institut der EKD, Göttingenmarker
  • Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW),Berlinmarker
  • Konfessionskundliches Institut (KI)
  • Institut für Kirchenbau und kirchliche Kunst der Gegenwart, Marburgmarker
  • Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut der EKD (SI), Hanovermarker
  • Evangelische Schulstiftung in der EKD
  • Evangelische Arbeitsstelle Fernstudium für kirchliche Dienste, Gelnhausenmarker
  • Gemeinsame Arbeitsstelle für gottesdienstliche Fragen der EKD, Hanover
  • Burckhardthaus, Evangelisches Institut für Jugend-, Kultur- und Sozialarbeit e.V.
  • Frauenstudien- und -bildungszentrum der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, Gelnhausen
  • Aussiedlerseelsorge in der EKD, Hanover
  • Informations- und Dokumentationsstelle der EKD
  • Kirchlicher Dienst in der Arbeitswelt
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft Missionarische Dienste
  • Zirkus- und Schaustellerseelsorge, Hanover
  • Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. Villigst

Note on the term Evangelical in German usage

The German term evangelisch more accurately corresponds to the broad English term Protestant rather than to the narrower Evangelical (in German called evangelikal), although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada use the term in the same way as the German church. Literally, evangelisch means "of the Gospel", denoting a Reformation emphasis on sola scriptura, "scripture alone". The church described in this article is a federation of different, mostly mainstream Protestant churches, rather than one evangelical church.


See also

External links

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