Baptists in Austria

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Federation of Baptist Congregations in Austria
Basic data
Denomination Baptism
Free churches in Austria
( legally recognized church)
founding 1953 (Mission 1847, first congregation in Vienna in 1869; registration 1998, recognition 2013)
Spiritual direction Chair : Anita Ivanovits
Deputy : Martin Wendland
Mission Secretary : Pastor Walter Klimt
Local communities 25 (2014)
Parishioners 1472 baptized (without children, as of 2010)
address Krummgasse 7/4, 1030 Vienna

The first church service meetings of Baptists in Austria are recorded in Vienna in 1847 . In 1869 the Viennese congregation of baptized Christians / Baptists was officially founded . In 1953 the Federation of Baptist Congregations in Austria was founded, which in 1998 acquired legal personality as a denominational community . By joining forces with four other church federations ( Evangelicals , - Free Christian Community Pentecostal Church , Elaia Christian churches , Mennonites , 2013) was the Free Church Free Churches in Austria as a legally recognized church (religious community) .

The federal government represents 25 local congregations, with around 1,500 baptized relatives (as of 2014). The organization is based in Vienna-Landstrasse .


Beginnings and persecutions after 1848

By journeymen who are on the roll were that Baptist doctrine was in the 40s of the 19th century in the Empire of Austria brought.

Karl and Theresia Wisotzky were among the first to find fertile ground for this missionary activity . They lived in Vienna and opened their apartment for church service meetings in 1847, from which a small community developed. Johann Gerhard Oncken , who founded the first German Baptist congregation in Hamburg in 1834 , visited the young community as early as the summer of 1847 . 25 listeners, so you can read in Oncken's notes, listened to his lectures. In a major campaign, initially 10,000 and after Oncken's departure another 20,000 tracts were distributed.

In 1848 the later Bremen Baptist pastor Johann Friedrich Oncken worked in Vienna for a short time . As long as the revolutionary popular rule lasted, he was able to hold large meetings in a monastery . A number of new members were won in the process. The Baptist pastor and church elder Johann Ludwig Hinrichs , who came from Jever , also traveled to Vienna at Oncken's initiative and helped the young church to establish its first structures.

For the Baptists, who had not yet been constituted, a time of oppression began. As a result of the suppression of the Vienna Revolution by imperial troops, Oncken and Hinrichs were expelled from the Austrian capital. The Wisotzky couple moved to Graz and began further church planting work there.

Edward Millard

In 1850, the Baptist Edward Millard , a representative of the British Bible Society , received approval from the Austrian state authorities to distribute Bibles and religious writings in Vienna. But already in the spring of 1851 this permit was withdrawn. During a service, the police carried out a house search, confiscated Bibles and books, and imposed arrest sentences on those present. Millard was expelled from Austria. His bibles and scriptures were destroyed.

In the aftermath, it was punishable to hold public meetings and to celebrate the Lord's Supper and baptism . Children of Baptist parents were forcibly baptized . A law passed in 1867, which guaranteed freedom of belief and conscience in Austria, only benefited the members of the religious communities recognized at the time - in addition to the Catholic Church. Baptists could not legally gather for services even after the law came into effect.

Foundation of Baptist churches from 1869

House of the Baptist Congregation in Vienna, Mollardgasse 35, around 1930

The Baptist Congregation Vienna was constituted on December 20, 1869, shortly after Austria-Hungary was proclaimed, under the leadership of its leader Edward Millard and in the presence of Johann Gerhard Onckens, who stopped in Vienna on his return journey from southern Russia and southeastern Europe . Their worship meetings were held in the Millard couple's home. The first evangelist in the congregation was the preacher Bänziger. He was followed by the preacher Hilzinger, who worked in this capacity until 1874. On March 21, 1879, due to a decree of the imperial-royal Lieutenancy under the Enns, an absolute ban on assembly was given to the Baptists, but was reversed in May 1880.

The presence of Baptists has been on record for the city of Graz since 1870. They first met in different apartments. Among them was the house of the Wisotzky couple, who had come from Vienna. In the year the number of baptized parishioners grew so strongly that in 1882 an independent parish was constituted in Graz and released from the parish association of Vienna.

On October 3, 1885, seventeen delegates from five Austrian-Hungarian Baptist congregations met in Budapest for the first time to form an independent association. These five parishes were in Vienna, Budapest, Graz, Snjatin and Prague . They represented around 870 parishioners baptized in faith and their approx. 2100 family members and friends. Edward Millard was elected chairman of the conference. This association became the nucleus of today's national Baptist unions in Austria, Slovakia , Slovenia , the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Ukraine .

Development in the Republic of Austria

It was not until 1921 that it was possible to officially acquire a plot of land for a planned chapel building via a detour founded by a specially founded aid association .

Only after more than a hundred years of history did a union of the Baptist Congregations in Austria come about in 1953 . They could continue to conclude legally binding transactions only through an auxiliary association of the Baptists in Austria , which was a common practice in Austria at the time, since religious associations were expressly excluded from association law.

Numerous applications for recognition as a religious community were rejected from 1906 to 1990. In July 1998 the Federation of Baptist Congregations in Austria became a state-registered religious denominational community according to the new denominational community law and was given the right to act as an independent legal entity.

In 2009 another application was made for full recognition in order to benefit from the associated privileges such as religious instruction in public schools or representation in the public media. The obstacle to this was the minimum membership of 2 ‰ of the population (at that time around 16,000) required in the Confessional Community Act; in the 2001 census, 2108 people had committed themselves to the Baptists.

2013 joined then the Union of Baptists and four other related denominational churches, the Federation of Evangelical churches , the Free Christian Church - Pentecostal church , the Elaia Christian communities and the Mennonite Free Church , the Association of Free Churches in Austria together. The recognition of this association "as a church (religious society ) " took place by ordinance of the Minister of Education of August 26, 2013 ( Federal Law Gazette II No. 250/2013 ). This enables, for example, joint free church religious instruction or the establishment of denominational private schools with public rights .


Like all congregations of this free church movement, the Austrian Baptists also emphasize the autonomy of the local congregation .

The Federation of Baptist Congregations in Austria is the umbrella organization that conducts international and interdenominational cooperation and takes on representation in the free churches in Austria . It is led by the federal management. The federal headquarters , known as the federal office , is located in Vienna-Krummgasse.

Today the number of members is around 1500.

Member communities

International Baptist Congregation Vienna

For League of Baptists are about 20 independent municipalities.

German-speaking communities are located in Bad Ischl , Neusiedl am See , Graz , Innsbruck , Linz , Neulengbach , Salzburg , Steyr and Vienna (six communities).

More than a quarter of Austrian Baptists are members of Romanian-speaking congregations. They work in the following locations: Graz , Grein , Kapfenberg , Krems , Linz and Vienna (two municipalities).

An international congregation, the International Baptist Church of Vienna , exists in Vienna and conducts services mainly in English .


Cross-Church Relationships and Ecumenism

The Austrian Baptists see themselves as part of the worldwide body of Christ . Your congregations work in the Evangelical Alliance and partly in the Working Group of Evangelical Churches in Austria  (ARGEGÖ).

The Union of Baptist Congregations is a member of the World Baptist Union and the European Baptist Federation . There is close cooperation with the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches  (BEFG) in Germany. He is also a member "with an advisory vote" (ie not a full member) in the World Council of Churches in Austria  (ÖRKÖ).

The aid association continues to exist and has been a member of the Protestant Diakonie Austria since 1996 .

Works and Education

The theological training of the full-time employees active in Austria took place at Protestant theological faculties , at evangelical seminars and at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Elstal near Berlin, and at the English-language International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague (formerly in Rüschlikon , Switzerland).

The Children's and Youth Office of Austrian Baptists has national offers for young adults, teenagers and children .


  • Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer (Ed.): Fresh water on arid land. Festschrift for the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Baptist Congregations in Austria (= Baptism Studies ; Vol. 7). Oncken, Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-87939-203-X .
  • Joseph Lehmann : History of the German Baptists . 2 volumes. Oncken, Cassel 1896-1900.
  • Rudolf Donat: The growing work. Expansion of the German Baptist congregations for sixty years (1849 to 1909) . Oncken, Kassel 1960.
  • Emanuel Wieser, Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer: The Baptists. Numerous in the world, hardly present in Austria , in: Johann Hirnsperger, Christian Wessely , Alexander Bernhard (Ed.): Ways to Salvation? Religious denominations in Austria. Self-expression and theological reflection . Styria, Graz et al. 2001, pp. 25-42.
  • Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer: Baptists and Austrians - a contradiction? In: Austrian Archives for Law and Religion , vol. 47, 2000, pp. 127–144.
  • Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer: Free churches in Austria since 1846. On the sources and on questions of method . In: Yearbook for the History of Protestantism in Austria , vol. 124/125, 2008/09, pp. 270–302.
  • Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer: “Reminder sheets from the Baptist congregation in Vienna” for Edward Millard. A source for the early decades of the Austrian Baptists (since 1869). In: Johann Hirnsperger, Christian Wessely (Ed.): Ways to Salvation? Religious confessional communities in Austria: Elaia Christengemeinden (...) (= theology in cultural dialogue ; 7c). Tyrolia, Innsbruck 2014, pp. 115–142.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Lars Heinrich, Helmut Rabenau: Insight - Perspective - Outlook. 140 years of Baptists in Austria . In: The community. Believe. Together. Shape. , 27/2009, p. 7
  2. Austrian population statistics according to religious denomination , (PDF file; 41 kB)
  3. The formulation "Church (religious society)" is the legal text.
  4. ^ Working group of evangelical congregations in Austria
  5. World Council of Churches in Austria ( Memento from August 30, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Review by Andreas Liese, in: Freikirchenforschung , Vol. 15, 2005/06, pp. 398–400.

Coordinates: 48 ° 12 ′ 1.7 ″  N , 16 ° 23 ′ 10.9 ″  E