EKD - Evangelical Church in Central Germany
(Evangelische Kirche in Mitteldeutschland, EMK)
The Evangelical Church in Central Germany was created by the merger of the Lutheran Church in Thuringia (Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Thüringen, ELKTh) and the Evangelical Church of the Province of Saxony (Evangelische Kirche der Kirchenprovinz Sachsen, EKKPS).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia had been created in 1921 when the churches of the eight Thuringian principalities united. There have been Christians in the region of Thuringia since the 6th century. Boniface especially played an important role during the 8th century in spreading the Christian faith. Thuringia is the country of Martin Luther. He went to school in Eisenach and studied in Erfurt, where he was also ordained as a priest. On the Wartburg near Eisenach he translated the New Testament into German.
The origins of the Evangelical Church of the Province of Saxony lay in the political reshuffle of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, provoked by the wars of independence under Napoleon in 1813 and the Congress of Vienna in 1815. At the time, the kingdom of Prussia was enlarged by numerous territories. In 1816 some of these regions were united into the Prussian province of Saxony. For the central church administration a consistory was installed in Magdeburg. Since then the province of Saxony belonged to the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union. In 1947 the Church Province of Saxony became an autonomous church.
Before the merger of ELKTh and EKKPS was completed on 1 January 2009, the two churches had been moving towards each other during one decade and had formed the Federation of Protestant Churches in Central Germany (Föderation Evangelischer Kirchen in Mitteldeutschland, EKM) in 2004.
The newly formed Evangelical Church in Central Germany has about 900'000 members in over 3'000 parishes. It consists of 38 administrative districts called "Kirchenkreise". The limited financial and personal means of the two neighbouring churches have been consolidated. Until recently, three separate church parliaments existed – the two synods of ELKTh and EKKPS and the synod of the federation – as well as three separate church governments.
Now there is only one synod, consisting of 84 members, and a 23-strong church council. The new church has only one bishop, the see being in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt. The church administration, headed by the so-called Kollegium, is based in Erfurt in Thuringia.
Financial strains were not the only reason for the two churches in central Germany to unite. "To bond with each other" does also include connecting with the people living in the region. This aim can be achieved much better with stable structures and a church that can offer reliable support to the parishes and church districts.
"We want our faith to transcend every day life and thus help shaping it" says the "Letter from Halle", where the two churches signed their federation treaty. This aspiration held for the merger process and will continue to be valid for the new Evangelical Church in Central Germany.