Czechoslovak Hussite Church
(Církev československá husitská)
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC) declares that it "came into being through the will and grace of God, so that through it many who would otherwise have been lost in unbelief and despair should be brought into the one, holy, universal church of God, and so that it might strive to bring about the church of God without stain or wrinkle" (Basic Principles of Faith of the CHC). This took place with the celebration of church services in the Czech language for the first time at Christmas 1919. The CHC was then formally established in January 1920 in Prague by Focus, the radical wing of the modernist reform movement of Roman Catholic clergy. The basic theological characteristics of the CHC are: 1) The Spirit of Christ (the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit). This is the highest norm. 2) The apostolic and Reformation character of the church. Both are understood as coming from the Holy Spirit. 3) The presence of Christ as a liturgical principle. The living Christ makes himself present through the power of the Holy Spirit in the sacramental action of the church. 4) Respect for scientific truth and openness towards the world. There is only one final truth and knowledge of this final truth is only partial. Truth is a responsible relationship with God and with fellow human beings. 5) Freedom of conscience, which opens up horizons of pluralism of opinions and viewpoints. 6) Presbyterian and episcopal order. This has its origin in the universal priesthood of the people of Christ. Bishops are elected for a certain period of time. The presbyterian order refers to the participation of elected or approved presbyters (church elders) in the structures of the church.
Through its name, the "Czechoslovak Hussite Church" proclaims its adherence to the Christian traditions of its historical territories, especially the Hussite or Czech Reformation (also known as the first Reformation). The Hussite Church occupies the middle ground between the essence of the Catholic Church (liturgy and the seven sacraments) and the principles of the Protestant churches (teaching and order). Its theology is constantly engaged in the process of critically defining its own church practice. The basic unit of the church is the local congregation, led by a council of elders which is elected by the assembly of the congregation. Together, the local congregations make up five dioceses in the Czech Republic and one in Slovakia. The dioceses are administered by diocesan councils under the leadership of a bishop, elected by the diocesan assembly. The church as a whole is administered by a central council, under the leadership of a patriarch, who is elected by the all-church assembly. The central council consists of both priests and presbyters in equal numbers, who are elected by the diocesan assemblies. In the periods between meetings of the all-church assembly, authority is vested in the whole church vestry, with delegates (clergy and lay) from each of the dioceses.
The CHC seeks to fulfil its vocation in society by bringing into dialogue contemporary moral thinking and scientific knowledge with the Spirit of Christ as preserved in the scripture and the tradition of the early church, and in the Bohemian and 16th-century Reformation movements. The church takes care of the spiritual growth of all its members, at the parish level through Bible studies, religious education, preparation for the sacraments and pastoral care, at the synod and national levels through seminars, courses, summer camps, etc. Candidates for the ministry are trained at the Hussite theological faculty of Charles University in Prague, which offers also programmes for other professions in the church and is open to students from other churches. A new institution of the CHC is the Huss Institute of Theological Studies where pastoral assistants, deacons and other church workers are trained. The church is actively involved in educational, social and diaconal activities and in cultural manifestations (e.g. the Hussite Music School).