Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland
|Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland|
|Bishop of the Church||Jerzy Samiec|
|Associations||Conference of European Churches,
Lutheran World Federation,
Polish Ecumenical Council,
World Council of Churches
|Official website||Official website|
The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (Polish: Kościół Ewangelicko-Augsburski w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) is a Lutheran denomination and the largest Protestant body in Poland with about 70,000 members and 133 parishes.
The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession is rooted in the Reformation. The first Lutheran sermons were held in 1518, and in 1523 the first Lutheran dean, Johann Heß, was called to the city of Breslau, whence Lutheranism was spread into the Polish lands. Today the Church has its primary adherents in the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia.
The church in Poland suffered during and after World War II. The ranks of pastors, teachers and other church leadership were somewhat diminished by persecution, imprisonment, and death. During the early postwar years, a number of church properties were taken over for other purposes, and the connections of Protestant Lutheranism to the German cultural sphere made authorities and Polish locals inimical towards the Lutherans left. Gradually, the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Poland has been reshaped into an active body. On 12 October 2008, Polish president Lech Kaczyński—himself of the Catholic faith—visited the Lutheran Protestant Jesus Church in Cieszyn, becoming the first Polish president who ever visited a Protestant place of worship.
The church's six dioceses form a wide swath from north to south down the middle of Poland—from Warmia-Masuria and Gdańsk in the north, near the Baltic, to the region west and southwest of Kraków in the south, toward the Czech Republic border. Direct descendants of Reformation forebears live in the south, around Upper Silesia.
The church has 133 parishes, 186 churches and 151 chapels, and is served by 153 pastors and other church workers. Many pastors serve multiple preaching points and are challenged by diverse demands as well as the need for innovation in a rapidly changing society. The congregations are self-governing, and each has its own parish council.
Though numbers of church members are currently lower than they have been in the past (86,880 baptized members in 2001, 75,000 in 2009), the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Poland still remains as the largest Protestant body in Poland. As of 2012, there were 61,663 adherent faithful in this church.
As a Lutheran church in a country that is nearly 90 percent Roman Catholic, the church faces challenges in upholding a Protestant education at various levels, whether in Sunday schools, catechetical instruction, or in connection with the public schools, where Catholic religious education is part of the curriculum. The main priorities of the church are in diaconic work among single, old, and disabled persons; women's and youth work; and in evangelism.
The senior ordained member of the denomination is called the Bishop of the Church. The office is filled by election, and the Bishop of the Church serves for ten years. He is based at the Church headquarters in Warsaw. The Church's official website describes the role of the Bishop of the Church as: "His service is to minister the Word of God and the Sacraments. He also guards the whole Church (episcope), so that God’s Word is proclaimed faithfully and clearly. The Bishop of the Church is the “Pastor of the pastors” (Pastor pastorum)." The office is currently held by Bishop Jerzy Samiec.
Under the Bishop of the Church there are four authoritative bodies. The House of Bishops consists of the Bishop of the Church (Primate) and the six diocesan bishops. The Church Synod is the main decision-making body, and consists of all ordained bishops, 15 representative ordained pastors, and 30 members of laity from across the diocesan synods. The Synod Council is a small standing committee, competent to conduct certain synodical functions between meetings of the full Church Synod. The Consistory of the Church is a senior steering group which has authority to make wide-ranging decisions in terms of the day to day administration of the church. It is chaired by the Bishop of the Church, together with a Vice-President, and six other members (three ordained, three lay).
List of Bishops
- Bishop of the Church (Primate and Metropolitan)
- Bishop of Cieszyn
- Bishop of Katowice
- Bishop of Masuria
- Bishop of Pomerania-Greater Poland
- Bishop of Warsaw
- Bishop of Wrocław
Notable Polish Lutherans
- Juliusz Bursche, first Bishop of Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Poland.
- Jerzy Buzek, prime minister of Poland from 1997 to 2001, President of the European Parliament since 2009.
- Adam Małysz, Polish former ski jumper, one of the most successful ski jumpers in the history of the sport.
- Jerzy Pilch, one of the most important contemporary Polish writers and journalists.
- The Lutheran World Federation – 2013 Membership Figures Lutheran World
- Statistics: Lutherans in Poland (official website of The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg confession in Poland)
- (in Polish) Lech Kaczyński w Wiśle i Cieszynie
- (in Polish) Prezydent w kościele Jezusowym
- (in Polish) Kościoły i związki wyznaniowe w Polsce
- LWF Statistics 2009 Archived August 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "NIEKTÓRE WYZNANIA RELIGIJNE W POLSCE W 2012 R. (SELECTED RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS IN POLAND IN 2012)". MAŁY ROCZNIK STATYSTYCZNY POLSKI 2013 (CONCISE STATISTICAL YEARBOOK OF POLAND 2013) (in Polish and English). GŁÓWNY URZĄD STATYSTYCZNY. 2013. p. 138. ISSN 1640-3630.
- English language version of official website.
- (in Polish) Większość ewangelików w Polsce jest dumna z tego, że są ewangelikami
- (in Polish) MAŁYSZ: Bogu dziękuję!
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