Superintendent (ecclesiastical)

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Superintendent is the head of an administrative division of a Protestant church, largely historical but still in use in Germany. It replaced the title of bishop in Northern Germany and Scandinavia after the reformation, since bishop was associated with Catholicism. Superintendent is also a rank in the British police force.

Superintendents in Sweden[edit]

Superintendents were created in Sweden after the Protestant Reformation. The office was similar to that of bishop, but instead of being ordained by the archbishop, the superintendent was appointed by the Crown. This new model of ecclesiastical polity was partly political, as the Roman Catholic bishops before the Reformation held considerable political power and often used it against the king. Superintendents' loyalty was supposed to lie with the head of the new Church of Sweden, the monarch. Some Lutheran theologians also considered the term less Catholic and therefore preferable to 'bishop'.

In Sweden proper, the following dioceses have been governed by a superintendent:

The diocese of Lund was equally administered by superintendents from 1537 to 1637, but was at that time part of Denmark.

List of Norwegian superintendents in the 16th and 17th Centurys

Superintendents in the diocese of Oslo:

Superintendents in the diocese of Stavanger:

Superintendents in the diocese of Bjørgvin:

Superintendents in the diocese of Nidaros:

Superintendents in the Baltic States[edit]

The Church of Sweden's organisation in the Baltic provinces were created by similar provisions. Livonia came under a superintendent in 1622 and a superintendent-general from 1678. Superintendents were also appointed to Ingria in 1641 and to Saaremaa in 1650; a superintendent was also appointed to Estonia for a shorter period, probably 1622-1638, as well as to Riga and Reval.

Superintendents in Germany[edit]

In 1652 the general government of Swedish Bremen-Verden introduced a Consistory, led by a General Superintendent, for this German territory of Imperial immediacy.

In 1535 the Estates of the Land of Hadeln introduced a consistory, led by a General Superintendent.

The Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Hanover used to maintain several consistories until 1922, each led by a General Superintendent.

In the Electorate of Brandenburg the title General Superintendent was used until 1632. In the years since 1817 during the constitutional reforms of the Evangelical Church in Prussia, including the then March of Brandenburg provincial subsection, the title General Superintendent was reintroduced in 1828, with each general superintendency (German: Generalsuperintendentur) supervising a number of deaneries. The title superintendent referred to the head of a deanery.

In the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia, a successor church body of the former, the term Superintendent refers to the head of a deanery (German: Kirchenkreis). The term General Superintendent refers to the each head of one of the three regions (German: Sprengel), each comprising several deaneries.

See also[edit]