Germany

In Germay the centuries-old tradition of church government by secular princes survived until 1918, when the individual territorial churches adopted their own constitutions. Before this time, moves towards unity had resulted in the establishment of the Committee of the German Evangelical Churches in 1903, but a closer bond was made in May 1922 with the formation of the Federation of German Evangelical Churches, with a permanent office in Berlin. (“Evangelical” in the German context usually signifies the indigenous non-Roman churches.) The confessional status of the various constituent bodies (Lutheran, Reformed, Union) was untouched, but from this time the Federation represented all of them in common affairs, such as overseas work.

By 1933 the tendency towards unity became stronger, partly under the pressure of the so-called “German Christian” movement and the Nazi government, and this led in that year to the constitution of the German Evangelical Church. The encroachments of the Nazis on the confession of the churches soon resulted, however, in what was described as the Struggle of the Church (Kirchenkampf), in the course of which such fellowship as had been achieved was virtually destroyed.

After the German defeat in 1945 it was found necessary to begin anew, and a conference was called at Treysa, with the aim of reorganizing the whole church which was renamed the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland=EKD). This is, strictly speaking, a federation of churches rather than a church, and has no confession of its own. It is regarded as the realization of a fellowship between the two Reformation churches (Lutheran and Reformed), not easily expressed in legal terms, but closer than the usual relationship ...

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