Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg
The Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg (German: Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg; analoguous translation in English: Evangelical State Church in Württemberg) is a Protestant church in the German former state of Württemberg, now part of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The seat of the church is in Stuttgart.
It is a full member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), and is a Lutheran Church. The presiding bishop (Landesbischof) of the church is Frank Otfried July (2005). There are four regional bishops (Regionalbischöfe).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Württemberg is one of 22 Lutheran, united and reformed churches of the EKD. The church has 2,170,345 members (2013) in about 1,400 parishes. It is the most important Protestant denomination in eastern Baden-Württemberg.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Württemberg is a member church of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. It is neither a member of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, nor a member of the Lutheran World Federation, but has a guest status in both. The Church runs a minister training house at Tübingen called Tübinger Stift.
The most prominent churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Württemberg are the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart, the Minster in Ulm, the Kilians church in Heilbronn, the St. Mary's Church, Reutlingen, the city church St. Dionysius in Esslingen, as well as the church St. Michael in Schwäbisch Hall.
The ordination of women like in all other EKD churches has been allowed.
In 1534 Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg enforced in his Duchy of Württemberg the Protestant Reformation. The Duke, later on the respective King of Württemberg was therefore head of the state church as so called summus episcopus, meaning the respective ruler united secular and religious power in his person. The former Catholic bishops lost all privileges. Johannes Brenz was deployed as reformer of the state in terms of Martin Luther. He is entombed in the Stuttgart Stiftskirche.
The Evangelical State Church in Württemberg was therefore from the beginning on a Lutheran church, however the form of church service is bound to reformed tradition, meaning that it is rather plain. The otherwise in Lutheran parishes form of the Lutheran mass is hardly ever practiced. Up to 1806 the Duchy of Württemberg was a purely evangelical territory. Only when Württemberg became kingdom and due to Napoleon larger Catholic territories (Upper Swabia) were added, the uniform religious structure ended. Since the late 19th century also in former Catholic territories of (southern) Württemberg evangelical parishes were founded.
After the end of World War I King William II of Württemberg was forced to resign. The church therefore formally had no ruler anymore. But the church was prepared for this vacuum, since his issue was disqualified for royal succession due to inadequate marriage. Therefore since the 1890s the head of a Catholic ducal branch line of the royal house was enacted as successor, whom the Lutheran state church would not accept as summus episcopus. Therefore leading clergymen took over the church. After the exiled King William II had died (October 1921) the Evangelical State Church in Württemberg gave itself a new constitution in 1923/24 and put in a church president as the lead of the church, who in 1933 received the title Landesbischof.
From 1945 on the Hohenzollern provincial Protestant deanery (Kirchenkreis) of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union adopted the provisional supervision by the Evangelical State Church in Württemberg. On April 1, 1950 the deanery joined that church body and thus terminated its subordination to the supervision by the prior old-Prussian Ecclesiastical Province of the Rhineland.
From 20–27 July 2010 the Evangelical State Church in Württemberg will host of the 11th General Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Stuttgart, Germany.
Leading persons and bishops in history
- 1924–1929: Johannes von Merz, church president
- 1929–1948: Theophil Wurm, bishop (until 1933 church president)
- 1948–1962: Dr. Martin Haug, bishop
- 1962–1969: Dr. Erich Eichele, bishop
- 1969–1979: Helmut Claß, bishop
- 1979–1988: Hans von Keler, bishop
- 1988–1994: Theo Sorg, bishop
- 1994–2001: Eberhardt Renz, bishop
- 2001–2005: Gerhard Maier, bishop
- 2005 – today: Frank Otfried July, bishop
The election of the synod is for six years.
- 1922: 1,668,000 members
- 2007: 2,286,893 members
- The Lutheran World Federation – 2013 Membership Figures Lutheran World
- The Evangelical congregations in Hohenzollern, prior comprising 1,200 parishioners, had to integrate 22,300 Prussian and Polish refugees (of 1945) and expellees (of 1945-1948).
- Sebastian Müller-Rolli in collaboration with Reiner Anselm, Evangelische Schulpolitik in Deutschland 1918–1958: Dokumente und Darstellung, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999, (=Eine Veröffentlichung des Comenius-Instituts Münster), p. 29. ISBN 3-525-61362-8.
- Official web site (German)
- International Information (English)
- Association for Württemberg Church History (German)
- Evangelic Community Paper of Württemberg (German)
- Evangelical Church in Germany