Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)

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In German, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), a federation (Bund ) of Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches comprising the great majority of the Protestant churches in a united Germany. Although it reflects the doctrinal and institutional complexity of German Protestantism in its structure, its foundation in 1948 was a significant ecumenical achievement. At the beginning of the 21st century, the EKD comprises the following 24 Lutheran, Reformed and United "regional churches" (landeskirchen ):

  1. Evangelische Landeskirche Anhalts (Evangelical Church of Anhalt )
  2. Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden (Evangelical Church of Baden )
  3. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria )
  4. Evangelische Kirche in Berlin-Brandenburg (Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg )
  5. Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche in Braunschweig (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick )
  6. Bremische Evangelische Kirche (Evangelical Church of Bremen )
  7. Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Hanover )
  8. Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau (Evangelical Church of Hesse und Nassau )
  9. Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck (Evangelical Church of Hesse Electorate-Waldeck )
  10. Lippische Landeskirche (Church of Lippe )
  11. Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Mecklenburgs (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg )
  1. Nordelbische Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church )
  2. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Oldenburg (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Oldenburg )
  3. Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz (Evangelical Church of the Palatinate )
  4. Pommersche Evangelische Kirche (Pomeranian Evangelical Church )
  5. Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche (Evangelical Reformed Church in Bavaria and Northwestern Germany )
  6. Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland (Evangelical Church of Rhineland )
  7. Evangelische Kirche der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen (Evangelical Church of the Province of Saxony )
  8. Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Sachsens (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony )
  9. Evangelisch-Lutherische Landeskirche Schaumburg-Lippe (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe )
  10. Evangelische Kirche der schlesischen Oberlausitz (Evangelical Church of Silesian Oberlausitz )
  11. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Thüringen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia )
  12. Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen (Evangelical Church of Westphalia )
  13. Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg (Evangelical Church of Württemberg )

Origin. During the Reformation the Lutheran and Calvinistic churches in the Holy Roman Empire came to be organized as state churches on a territorial basis. What at first had been an emergency solution later became the normal form of church government. Thus various systems of administration by secular authorities (princes, cities) arose. In addition, there was the separation between lutheranism and calvinism, which was only partially overcome through the creation of "United" churches (doctrinal or administrative unions of Lutheran and Calvinistic churches) in Prussia and some minor German states in the 19th century. When after the collapse of the monarchy (1918) the Protestant churches reorganized themselves independently, the main problem was to combine a certain degree of national unity with territorial and confessional independence. A rather weak Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchenbund (1922) was superseded by a centralized Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (1933), which, however, was paralyzed by the ensuing struggle against Nazi penetration. It was not until after World War II that a satisfactory solution was found.

Structure. The EKD is based upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Scriptures and interpreted by the ancient symbols and whatever confessions of faith are accepted by the member churches, including:

The Lord's Prayer, The Apostolic creed, The Nicene creed, Luther's 95 Theses, Luther's Small Catechism, The Augsburg Confession of Faith (1530), The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), The Barmen Theological Declaration (1934), The Leuenberg Agreement (1973).

Thus the EKD does not interfere with the confessional affiliation of its members, although the common basis is emphasized.

The EKD is essentially a federation of independent regional churches (landerskirchen ), which in turn are federations of local churches, without superseding the autonomy, ecclesial heritage, and traditions of its members. Structurally, it comprises the following three administrative levels: the Synod, the Executive Council (Rat de EKD ) and the Church Conference of member churches. The EKD is also a member of the world council of churches.

Bibliography: Amtsblatt der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (1946). h. brunotte, Die Grundordnung der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (Berlin 1954). g. wasse, Die Werke und Einrichtungen der evangelischen Kirche (Göttingen 1954).

[h. schÜssler/eds.]