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The Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg

Presiding Bishop Frank O. July

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg is an integral part of the worldwide church. Our Apostolic faith binds us together with Churches in other countries and continents. When in 1534 the Reformation took place in this region, our Church adopted the Lutheran confession under the motto: "The Word of God endures eternally."

In our groups, parishes, and in the church administration, we ask how God's Word can be effectively spoken and actualised in today's world. It is important to us that we do this together with Christians of other churches.

By way of this website, I invite you to acquaint yourselves with our Church and to enter into lasting contact with us, so that we may encourage each other mutually, growing together in faith and in our common desire that the Gospel be proclaimed in all the world.

Sincerely,
Presiding Bishop Frank O. July



Statistics

1 Regional Church or "Landeskirche"

2,3 Million Church Members

4 Church Regions, each headed by

a Prelate (Regional Bishop)

51 Church Districts with 52 Deaneries

25 Deans for Religious Education

2.400 Pastors

nearly 1.400 Parishes

ca. 15.000 Parish Employees and Voluntary Workers

ca. 18.000 Voluntary Youth Workers

28.500 Employees in Diaconal Services

ca 12.000 Local Church Council Members

95 Members of the Württemberg Church Synod


History

Early in the 8th Century, the Anglo-Saxon Monk Bonifatius came to the Germanic peoples as a missionary. The first church structures were established under the leadership of the "Germanic Apostolate". This later gave way to the Franconian Church Order, which was incorporated into the imperial law. Monasteries became centres of scholarship.


Johannes Brenz

Martin Luther's 95 Theses, which he nailed to the door of the "Schlosskirche" (Castle Church) in Wittenberg in 1517, unleashed the Reformation. In innumerable speeches and publications, Luther took issue with various developments within the medieval Church. He denounced the sale of indulgences, emphasizing justification by faith alone and translated the Bible into German. In 1522, as Luther's Reformation unleashed an awakening throughout the entire German realm, Christians in the town of Schwäbisch Hall ventured the transition to the new faith under the leadership of Johannes Brenz.

The first celebration of Lord's Supper according to Lutheran doctrine took place there in 1525. In 1534, Duke Ulrich brought the Reformation to a successful conclusion throughout Württemberg. Influenced both by Lutheran doctrine and by the efforts of the Swiss reformers Huldrich Zwingli and Johannes Calvin, the Church in Württemberg became Lutheran by confession. However, in its worship style it largely follows the Swiss tradition. The first part of the 17th century was marked by upheaval and war. This was followed by a time of consolidation. In addition to theology, individual scholastic disciplines began to develop in their own right. In this new atmosphere, pietism took root in the Dukedom as a lay movement. To this day, pietist Bible evenings and home devotionals make their mark on parish life in Württemberg.



Parishes

Parishes are jointly led by the local Church Council and the Pastor. Faith is lived out in various activities such as youth groups, motherchild circles, Bible evenings, senior citizen's groups and church choirs. Our numerous brass bands are virtually a trademark of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg. The main worship service generally takes place on Sunday morning. The ringing of the bells invites the parish members to join together in singing and in prayer, and to hear the sermon. Parishes assemble regularly for the Lord's Supper. Special worship services reach out to persons in particular life situations. Especially popular are worship services for families and for the youth. There is also much creative work being done in the development of new worship forms. In adult education programmes, current issues in church and society are addressed in lectures and seminars.


Diaconia

Charities are organized in the Diaconal Board

Faith is not an end in itself. It reaches out to others. Belief in Jesus Christ leads us into diaconal service as an expression of that faith. To serve in this way is to love our neighbours. The Evangelical Churches in Germany (EKD) organise their charities in an umbrella organisation known as the Diaconal Board. In Württemberg, all church-related service organisations are members of the Diaconal Board of Württemberg. This board operates homes for the aged, hospitals and infirmaries, counselling services for persons in crisis situations and ambulant health care units. The more than 400.000 employees working in the diaconal services nation-wide help all persons regardless of religious affiliation, age, profession or income level. "Bread for the World", an auxiliary organisation of the Diaconal Board of the EKD, seeks to alleviate hunger and need all over the world and to enable persons to help themselves. Towards this end, it sponsors a large variety of projects, financed in large part by charitable donations. Finally, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg operates kindergartens as well as day and boarding schools.



Conciliar Process

Justice, peace and the integrity of creation are basic prerequisites for an abundant life. We Christians are aware of the interconnectedness of life and the decisions we take. For these reasons, we intercede on behalf of generations yet to come and seek ways of living together in peace. Towards these ends, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg sponsors conferences, seminars and discussion groups. Interested persons and groups in the Church operate so- called "One World Shops". These shops sell products which are produced according to specific standards of social justice and ecological responsibility. Groups are active in the campaign against HIV / Aids and in the Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).


Mission

Jesus said "Go and make disciples of all nations." Throughout church history, missionaries have based Christian mission on this statement. In the 18th century, Pietism and the Great Awakening gave rise to new endeavours in world mission. Several protestant mission societies were founded during this time. The missionaries of the Basel Mission, founded in 1815 as a joint effort of Christians in Southwest Germany and Switzerland, brought the Gospel to many countries in Africa and Asia.

Through its membership in the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS), the Church in Württemberg is formally related to 17 Partner Churches in Africa and Asia. In cooperation with various organisations, more than three hundred Württemberg Christians are active in church service work the world over. Districts and parishes of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg maintain approximately 200 partnerships with Christian communities throughout the world. Through our membership in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation we maintain formal relations with the ecumenical family.


Ecumenical Relations

Ecumenical cooperation is important to the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg. Of special relevance are our relations to the Roman Catholic Church, as the German population is roughly 40 precent Catholic and 40 percent Protestant. Following the 2nd Vatican Council from 1963 to 65, such cooperation blossomed. Pulpit exchanges, joint worship services and "ecumenical marriage blessings" are signs of living ecumenism in our midst. In order to promote unity among the churches, we have both national and regional Councils of Churches (ACK). Member churches (among others Orthodox, Oriental-Orthodox, Methodist and Baptist) have in common their confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The Federal Republic of Germany is multiethnic and multireligious. Persons of various religious and confessional heritage live here side by side. Our constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression.


Downloads

Finding your roots in Württemberg

Genealogical Research at the Landeskirchliches Archiv,

english [PDF; 32 KB]

Information in other languages

Informations en Français

Slovak Information [PDF, 110 KB]


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