|Germany Table of Contents
In the mid-1990s, most of the country's roughly 30 million Protestants were organized into twenty-four member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland--EKD), headquartered in Hanover. Later in the decade, the church's headquarters is scheduled to relocate to Berlin. The mainline Protestant churches belong to one of three groups: Lutheran (ten); Reformed, or Calvinist (two); and United, or Lutheran-Calvinist (twelve). The largest number of congregations is in Saxony, Berlin, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, Bavaria, Thuringia, and Baden-Württemberg. Protestant clergy are permitted to marry, and women are actively engaged in the ministry. One of the most prominent women in the EKD and in Germany in the mid-1990s was Maria Jepsen, bishop of Hamburg.
In the early 1990s, about 5 percent of German Protestants attended weekly services. Annual baptisms declined from about 346,000 in 1970 to around 257,000 in 1990. Of the 257,000 baptisms in 1990, only about 12 percent took place in the former East Germany. Out of 219,000 confirmations in 1990, about 10 percent involved East German youth. Like their Roman Catholic counterparts, Protestant churches are well supported by taxes and contributions. The EKD also runs numerous hospitals and other social institutions and is a vitally important member of the country's system of social welfare. The main Protestant charitable organization is the Diakonisches Werk; it has about 350,000 employees.
In East Germany, Protestant churches became a focal point of opposition during the 1980s. This was possible because of an agreement with the authorities in 1978 that granted the churches a degree of independence. Opposition groups, composed of believers and nonbelievers alike, subsequently were able to meet at the churches, where they discussed peace issues and how East Germany could be reformed. In 1989 these churches, in particular those in Leipzig, became staging points for the massive demonstrations that led to the collapse of the communist regime.
More about Religion in Germany.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress