Hanover/Geneva, 29 September 2004 (LWI) – In parallel press releases, the EKD and United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) reported that the three negotiation commissions that worked on the draft agreements that would establish the future links between the EKD, Union of Evangelical Churches in the EKD (UEK) and VELKD, worked in a process marked by a spirit of mutual harmony.
The reforms focus on achieving as much common ground as possible, allowing for only the necessary differentiation. The plan is to share resources, promote communication and strengthen common policy-making. It is also proposed that the EKD Hannover-Herrenhausen office function on behalf of the member churches’ associations, and accommodate the UEK and VELKD offices. Members of the VELKD General Synod are also to represent their churches in the EKD Synod. It is expected that church institutions, agencies, committees, commissions and boards would be used jointly, as far as possible, ensuring coordination and cooperation, while possibilities for merger would be examined.
Bishop Dr Christoph Kaehler (Thuringia), vice-chairperson of the EKD Council described the agreements’ conclusion as proof of the strong cooperation among the Protestant churches in Germany, saying this would raise their profile and presence. VELKD Presiding Bishop Dr Hans Christian Knuth (Schleswig) stressed that VELKD’s autonomy as a church would be retained in the new system as well as the commitment to its confessional basis. The VELKD would autonomously also continue to develop its ecumenical relations. Bishop Ulrich Fischer (Baden), chairperson of the UEK general conference, welcomed the spirit of the negotiations as it highlighted common ground and pointed to strengthening the EKD, which was a major aim of the UEK.
The draft agreements will now be forwarded to church governing bodies and synods for consideration. The intention is to present the prerequisite constitutional amendments to the respective legislative bodies for action in 2005. According to the press statement, the new provisions are expected to be effective at the latest on 1 January 2007.
The EKD has 23 Lutheran, Reformed and United churches with over 26 million members. While the respective activities are structured federally at all levels, the EKD is mandated to deal with shared concerns. Its democratically constituted and elected bodies include the Synod, Council and Church Conference. The Church Office coordinates the business of the three governing bodies.
The VELKD is a union of eight Lutheran churches in Bavaria, Brunswick, Hanover, Mecklenburg, North Elbe, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe and Thuringia, representing around 10.4 million members.
The UEK comprises the 13 member churches of the Arnoldshain Conference and Evangelical Church of the Union, with the objective of promoting EKD’s unity.
Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF’s information service. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 138 member churches in 77 countries all over the world, with a membership of nearly 65 million Lutherans.
© 2004 LWI.