Evangelical Church in Germany

Church family:United and Uniting churches
Based in:Germany
Present in:

About membership

Statistics of church membership, number of churches, congregations, pastors, etc. are those given by the churches and organizations, unless otherwise indicated. WCC member churches have various ways of defining their membership: state churches in which virtually every citizen is baptized and thus counted as a member, churches which include in their membership persons who are baptized but not actively participating, churches in which only adult baptized or communicant members are counted, etc. No attempt has been made to classify the membership figures in such categories, because agreed upon indicators to so do not exist.

Member of:
 WCC (1948) 
Associate member of:
Periodicals:EKD Bulletin (in English)
Website: www.ekd.de
(Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland)

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) is "the communion of its Lutheran, Reformed, and United member churches" (Art. I of the constitution of the EKD). These are today 23 territorial churches (10 Lutheran, 2 Reformed and 11 United churches). The confessional identity of these churches goes back to the 16th century Reformation and the principle of "cuius regio, eius religio".

The EKD was founded in 1948. Essential for the possibility of this new ordering of the Protestant churches after the second world war was the Declaration of Barmen of 1934, in which Protestant theologians had opposed the implication of the church in the Nazi politics. Between 1969 and 1990 the eight Protestant territorial churches in the German Democratic Republic (former East Germany) formed the Federation of Evangelical Churches in the GDR (BEK). Since 1959 the fellowship of the EKD churches was strengthened through the agreed statement on the eucharist (Arnoldshainer Abendmahlsthesen), which was the basis for eucharistic communion between the Lutheran and Reformed churches. Nevertheless the confessionally different churches formed, in addition to their fellowship in the EKD, confessional bodies. Since 1948 the majority of the Lutheran churches are together in the VELKD (United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany), a part of the United churches formed the EKU (Evangelical Church of the Union, going back to 1817), and the Reformed churches support the Reformierter Bund (Reformed Alliance). Another inter-church organization, mainly bringing together United churches was the Arnoldshain Conference since 1967.

In 2003 a process was initiated to simplify these structures. The EKU and Arnoldshainer Conference merged to the UEK (Union of Protestant Churches) in 2003. Since 2007 there is only one EKD administration, in which the UEK and VELKD are integrated in such a way that only issues concerning confessional identity are dealt with by the bodies of the confessional communions. The offices of the VELKD and the UEK have joined the office of the EKD in Hannover.

The highest legislative body of the EKD is the synod (120 members, elected for six years). The council of EKD (15 members) is the executive body between the sessions of the synod. Its president is the highest representative of EKD. The church conference represents the governing bodies of the member churches. The EKD has an official representative at the seat of the Federal Government in Berlin. The main mandate of the EKD is to assist its member churches effectively by performing the common tasks they have entrusted to it. The EKD gives the territorial churches a common voice in their relationship to the state and the society and in ecumenical relationships.

Among the major EKD agencies may be mentioned Diaconal Work (created in 1957), Bread for the World (founded in 1959), the Protestant Association for World Mission, the Evangelical Development Service. The EKD is a founding member of the WCC. The territorial Lutheran churches which followed the recommendation of the VELKD in 1949 to apply directly for WCC membership are counted direct members of the WCC, though they are represented in the WCC through the EKD.

The EKD has parishes and pastors in more than 60 countries. Through these and other contacts, it has a variety of partnerships and dialogues. With the Church of England the EKD is in relationship through the Meissen Agreement, and with most of the Protestant churches in Europe through the Leuenberg Agreement. With some of the other European Protestant churches the EKD has signed official contracts concerning the status of their pastors in the respective countries. The EKD conducts bilateral theological dialogues with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

The Evangelical Church in Germany represents the following regional or territorial churches in the WCC:




Last updated:01/01/06