Bremen Evangelical Church

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Logo of the Bremen Evangelical Church
Map of the Bremen Evangelical Church
Basic data
Management: President of the Church Committee:
Edda Bosse
Secretary of the Church Committee:
Bernd Kuschnerus
Membership: UEK , Reformed Federation
Parishes : 61
Parishioners: 182,289 (as of January 1, 2020)
Share of the
total population:
31.7% (December 31, 2018)
Official Website:

The Bremen Evangelical Church (BEK) is a voluntary association of congregations in the area of ​​the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven . Although it differs from other regional churches in constitution and structure , it can be counted among the regional churches due to its historical connection with the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen . It is one of 20 member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and, like the others, has the status of a corporation under public law . Its seat is in Bremen.

The church has 182,289 church members in 61 parishes and two deacons (at January 1, 2020). It is one of the united churches within the EKD and therefore belongs to the Union of Evangelical Churches . It is also a member of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe and, due to its Reformed origins, also a member of the Reformed Federation .


The area of ​​the Bremen Evangelical Church (BEK) essentially comprises the city of Bremen . Furthermore, the “United Protestant Congregation for the Mayor Smidt Memorial Church ” in Bremerhaven belongs to the Bremen Evangelical Church. The other parishes of the city of Bremerhaven, which in turn belongs to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen , are parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover or the Ev.-ref. Regional Church (Leer) . Although these areas were united with the city of Bremerhaven in 1939, there was no church association with Bremen. In the north of Bremen, the Ev.-ref. Parish of Rekum not part of the BEK despite belonging to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

The borders of the parish in Mahndorf cross the state border into the area of ​​the Verden district. The two communities of St. Magni and St. Martini (Bremen-Lesum) in the Bremen-Nord district also encroach on Lower Saxony's territory ( Osterholz district ) and maintain branch churches there . The Reformed congregation in Blumenthal and the Lutheran congregation in Aumund (Menkestrasse) also include areas of the Beckedorf village . The Blumenthal Office , which was part of the city of Bremen until 1666, forms the historical background .

Special structure of the BEK within the EKD

Since an ordinance from 1860 - issued by the Bremen Senate as the supreme lord of the church (Summepiskopat) of the Protestant church in Bremen - residents in the Protestant communities of Bremen are free to join a church of their choice regardless of their place of residence. A change from the parochial to the personal community principle was thus carried out. This abolition of the residence principle intensified the "atomization process" (Ernst Rolffs, 1917) within the Protestant Church in Bremen.

A transfer to a municipality of your own choice can now be carried out with little effort by filling out an easily available transfer form.

In addition, the BEK today has the special structure that its municipalities, which are independent legal persons in the legal form of a corporation under public law , each have their own municipal constitution, their own creed and their own order; furthermore, they can let their rights and duties towards the universal Church rest. This means that every Protestant congregation in Bremen has the status of a single church that - loosely united - is represented in the EKD via the umbrella organization BEK . Some decidedly Lutheran congregations of the BEK are united in the Lutheran congregation association . These congregations cannot freely decide on their congregation order, but are obliged to adhere to the church congregation order of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. To take over the regional church of Hanover.

Another special feature is the lay presidency: the president (currently Edda Bosse ) of the church parliament is not a theologian. In addition, the Bremen Evangelical Church has the peculiarity of not having a theological head (senior theologian), but only a theological representative with the secretary.



On November 9, 1522, the first Reformation sermon was given in Bremen - by Heinrich von Zütphen in a chapel of the St. Ansgarii Church. From then on, the Hanseatic city of Bremen was a Protestant city for centuries. In 1534 a church ordinance was drawn up by the preacher Johann Timann and approved by Luther . Thereafter there were various disputes between Lutherans and followers of Melanchthon , which led to the expulsion of the cathedral preacher Albert Hardenberg in 1561 . After that, the cathedral was closed for 77 years. Politically it belonged to the Archbishopric of Bremen and not to the city of Bremen. In 1581 Bremen joined the Geneva Reformation under the leadership of Christoph Pezel . In 1595, Bremen received a new church order based on the German Reformed form (the Consensus Bremensis ).

The Heidelberg Catechism was introduced around 1600 . In 1638 the cathedral was reopened for Lutheran teaching by Frederick of Denmark , administrator of the archbishopric . The Lutheran cathedral congregation grew as a result of immigration. From 1651 the cathedral was under the control of the Swedish General Diocese of Bremen-Verden and the consistory in Stade from 1715 onwards . Besides the cathedral, some rural communities in Bremen were also Lutheran. In 1803 the cathedral came to the city of Bremen due to the Reichsdeputation Hauptschluss, which tried in vain to destroy the cathedral community. In 1830 the community received a new constitution, which was finally recognized by the city of Bremen.

In the Bremen church dispute of 1840 and 1844/45 between theological rationalist pastors and the predominantly conservative Reformed pastors in Bremen there was still a clear majority of the Orthodox clergy. However, the freedom of the church in Bremen was clearly confirmed by the Bremen Senate. After 1845, the Reformed creed was lost more and more when the congregations sometimes also appointed Lutheran pastors. New congregations emerged and were no longer differentiated between “Lutheran” and “Reformed”.

It was only with the introduction of a uniform hymn book in Bremen in 1873 that there was an administrative union between Lutheran and Reformed congregations, which was able to essentially resolve the confessional dispute between the congregations.

The church was subject to the Bremen Senate until 1920 and was represented by this externally.

In 1934 the Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller appointed the cathedral preacher Heinz Weidemann , a member of the NSDAP from 1933 to 1943, as regional bishop of Bremen; he remained regional bishop until 1941.

Due to the Reformed tradition of the BEK, a representative of this regional church is still represented as a delegate in the modern name of the Reformed League .

In 1963 the BEK was a founding member of the Diakonisches Werk Bremen eV in the Bremen Diakonie .

A move by the BEK that the Protestant church should be involved in religious instruction was unsuccessful. The Bremen State Court ruled in 1965 that biblical history lessons were "not confessionally bound" and therefore covered all confessional differences. The “general Christian basis” is not synonymous with the “basis of Protestant Christianity”. ( See also Bremen school dispute )


In the middle of the 19th century the city of Bremen founded the city of Bremerhaven about 60 kilometers north on a purchased area. Since this city accommodated both Lutheran and Reformed parishioners through influx , the local parish was founded as a united congregation. To this day it has remained the only parish in Bremerhaven that belongs to the Bremen Evangelical Church.

Head of the regional church

Since Bremen, as a free imperial city, was directly imperial (independent of all officials except the king or emperor) and continues to exist as a republic as a separate federal state, it was also able to regulate its church affairs independently. The Bremen parishes were originally predominantly Reformed parishes and are still autonomous in matters of faith, conscience and doctrine. This is due to the reformed understanding of ministry. Therefore there is basically no real head of the church in Bremen. The governing body and thus, according to the constitution, the actual church leadership is the parliament, the Kirchentag. According to the constitution of the Bremen Evangelical Church, which came into force in its original version on June 14, 1920, the board of the Kirchentag (quote :) “... consists of a president , a vice-president and a treasurer , who are not allowed to be pastors, and one Secretary , who must be a pastor and owner of a parish pastor of the Brem. Evang. Church should be ... The secretary's deputy must be a pastor. The board of the Kirchentag is also Board. "The mission of the church to the outside as well as managing business and the execution of the decisions of the Church Conference incumbent that of the Church Committee Church Committee .

The president, like the treasurer, exercises the office on an honorary basis. The secretary is the chief theological representative and speaker of the church committee. In terms of powers and competencies, the office differs significantly from that of a bishop , president or regional superintendent of other regional churches .

President of the Church Committee

  • 1920–1932: Theodor Lürman , Senator (1903–1919)
  • 1932–1933: Rudolph Quidde (1861–1942), lawyer, president of the citizenry (1911–1918)
  • 1945–1946: Richard Ahlers, lawyer, member of parliament (CDU)
  • 1946–1958: Ferdinand Donandt, lawyer
  • 1959–1969: Arnold Rutenberg, President of the Regional Court
  • 1969–1976: Heinz Hermann Brauer , Chief Public Prosecutor
  • 1977–1988: Eckart Ranft , President of the Finance Court
  • 1989–2001: Heinz Hermann Brauer, judge
  • 2001–2013: Brigitte Boehme , judge
  • Since 2013: Edda Bosse , journalist

Secretary and deputy Secretary of the Church Committee

  • 1920–1926: Wilhelm Büttner
  • 1927–1932: Otto Hartwich
  • 1933–1938: Ernst Boche
  • 1933 : Heinrich Weidemann00000
  • 1945–1958: Erich Urban, Emil Hackländer
  • 1959–1964: Günter Besch ; Heinz Gerth
  • 1965–1970: Günter Besch; Wilhelm Petzinna
  • 1971–1976: Heinz-Georg Binder ; Hans-Jürgen Kalberlah, Wolf-Udo Smidt (from January 1, 1973)
  • 1977–1982: Wolf-Udo Smidt ; Theodor Immer
  • 1983–1988: Wolf-Udo Smidt; Theodor Immer, Johann Herlyn (from May 20, 1987)
  • 1989–1995: Ernst Uhl ; Johann Herlyn
  • 1995–2001: Louis-Ferdinand von Zobeltitz ; Annette Niebuhr
  • 2001–2007: Louis-Ferdinand von Zobeltitz; Annette Quade
  • 2007–2019: Renke Brahms ; Bernd Kuschnerus
  • since June 2019: Bernd Kuschnerus


As a “parliament”, the Bremen Evangelical Church has a Kirchentag, which is very different in structure and structure from the regional synods of other EKD member churches. All church congregations belonging to the BEK send their representatives to the Kirchentag, the number of delegates per congregation being based on their size. The Kirchentag meets at least once, usually twice a year. It is reassembled every six years (“session”). In the same rotation, the Kirchentag elects the church committee consisting of twelve members as the church's administrative body from among its members. The chairperson of the Kirchentag is the president of the church committee.

In addition, the Kirchentag maintains five standing committees: the finance committee, the planning committee, the legal and constitutional committee, the personnel committee and the committee for tasks of the whole church. The establishment of further, non-standing committees is provided for in the constitution and is practiced regularly.

Administration of the BEK

The Bremen Evangelical Church has around 2000 employees in administration, the parishes, advice centers and day-care centers for children (as of 2015) . The budget of the BEK amounts to around 60.3 million euros for the parishes and the church institutions as a whole, as well as a good 63 million euros for the day-care center area (as of the budget for 2019). In the latter area, a good 56 million euros are financed through parental contributions, public operating subsidies and other income. The BEK is contributing around 7 million euros from its own resources. There are no state benefits in Bremen . Overall, the BEK finances the work of its communities and institutions, e.g. B. also the monument protection, largely from church taxes and receives very few public grants.

The "church chancellery" ("house of the church") is the administrative authority of the Bremen Evangelical Church. She has a full-time "head of the church chancellery" who has to be a lawyer (currently Dr. Johann Daniel Noltenius). There is no further hierarchy within the church in Bremen. There are no other committees or institutions above the individual congregations as in other regional churches (e.g. church districts).


The municipalities in the state of Bremen can be found on the BEK Internet portal, whereby the municipalities are grouped into five regions. In Bremerhaven only the Mayor Smidt Memorial Church belongs to the Bremer Evangelical Church, all other Protestant churches in Bremerhaven belong to the Regional Church of Hanover and the Reformed Church . The Evangelical Reformed Church in Rekum is the only Protestant church in the city of Bremen that does not belong to the BEK. In 1985, the Evangelical Hohentors Congregation suspended its rights and obligations due to a dispute over the recognition of a free church theological training. It was not until May 2015 that the parish resumed its rights and obligations after a corresponding vote by the Kirchentag.

Only a selection of the church buildings of the BEK congregations is mentioned here:


The Bremen Evangelical Church (BEK) publishes two regular print media, the bremer kirchenzeitung (circulation: 120,000) - as a free supplement to the Weserkurier and the Bremer Nachrichten - and the BEK Forum magazine (circulation: 10,000) for active people in the church and Diakonia. Both appear alternately four times a year.

Hymn books

The parishes of the Bremen Evangelical Church sing or sang in the last centuries mainly from the following hymn books :

  • Hymnbook of the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral community in Bremen , Bremen, from 1779
  • New Bremen psalm and hymn book for the public and special edification of the Reformed town and country communities, with authorization from the authorities, ed. from the Bremischen Ministerio, Bremen, 1767 or with the later title Evangelisches Gesangbuch, ed. from the preachers' association of the five reformed parishes in the Duchy of Bremen , Vegesack, from 1857
  • Bremisches Psalm- und Gesangbuch - New edition with an appendix, Bremen, 1864
  • Christian hymn book for promoting public and domestic devotion, Bremen, 1812
  • Hymnal for communal and solitary prayer , initially for the united evangelical congregation in Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, introduced in February 1857
  • Evangelical hymn book of the Bremen parishes , Bremen, introduced in March 1873
  • Bremen hymn book , Gütersloh, introduced in 1917
  • Evangelical hymn book - uniform hymn book of the Evangelical Lutheran regional churches in Schleswig-Holstein-Lauenburg, Mecklenburg, Hamburg, Lübeck, Eutin and the Evangelical Church of Bremen, Hamburg, 1949
  • Evangelical church hymn book - Edition for the Evangelical Church in Bremen, Hamburg, introduced in Advent 1950 at the instigation of the Church Committee of the Bremen Evangelical Church
  • Evangelical hymn book - edition for the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Lower Saxony and for the Evangelical Church in Bremen, Hanover / Göttingen, introduced in Advent 1994

BEK information center in downtown Bremen ("Chapter 8")

Chapter 8 is the BEK information center , which is located in the center of Bremen's inner city between the cathedral and the concert hall Die Glocke , and provides information about the offers and facilities of the Bremen Evangelical Church and also serves as an advisory service. It is open to all passing visitors. A pastor from the Bremen Evangelical Church is available to answer questions on various topics and activities within the BEK and its congregations.

According to Chapter 8 , the topics that are informed about by experts include, among other things, advice centers, Protestant kindergartens, sects, other religions, youth work, church admission, advanced training offers and senior activities, as well as holiday activities for young people, educational holidays and workshops, church music and Choirs, assisted living in old age and initiatives by unemployed people. Information is also provided about current controversial topics in Bremen - Chapter 8 addresses the discussion on controversial topics in church and society.

In addition, events such as art exhibitions take place in the information center.

Same-sex marriage ceremony

The BEK Kirchentag had already decided in November 2014 to change the church book regulations, which at the time included that blessings of same-sex couples are recorded as official acts in a blessing book. This change was implemented by the Church Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Committee in the following months. At the meeting in May 2015, the Kirchentag received a report on the changes to the church register regulations. Regarding the blessing of same-sex couples , however, there is no uniform attitude in the BEK . Due to the special independence of the individual congregations in the BEK , each congregation can largely decide for itself how to deal with the question, although many congregations are publicly very cautious on this point. Blessings for homosexual couples have been taking place in individual parishes since 2002. Most recently, 29, i.e. about half of the Protestant congregations in Bremen, offered the blessing and since September 2009 they have published a special information brochure, which also contained all contact points for interested couples and was available in Chapter 8 , in the Bremen-Mitte registry office and the congregations . Since October 1, 2017, there has been a "marriage for everyone" in Germany, so that same-sex couples can marry at the registry office with all rights and obligations. The church committee then updated the church book regulations. Because the registered civil partnerships no longer exist, the blessing book is closed in perspective. Legal marriage now also enables homosexual couples to marry in church. The official act is recorded in the marriage register like any other marriage. Kreuz + Queer, the gay and lesbian convention in the Bremen Evangelical Church, campaigns for the interests of homosexual Christians. In the Bremen St. Martini Congregation, on the other hand, the rejection of the blessing of same-sex couples was stipulated in the church ordinance.

The BEK website expressly points out to interested couples the possibility of changing parish membership to a parish that can offer them a blessing. Where the blessing of same-sex couples is practiced in a congregation, according to the evangelical understanding, it takes place in a similar setting as a marriage ceremony on the occasion of the marriage between a man and a woman. It is a service with prayers, words from the Bible, songs, music, a speech and a solemn ceremony in which the couple publicly say yes and receive God's blessing.

See also


  • Reinhard Jung (Ed.): "We went astray". Evangelical Church and Politics in Bremen 1933–45. (protexte No. 6) . Bremen 1984

Web links

Commons : Bremische Evangelische Kirche  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Evangelical Church in Germany - Church membership numbers as of December 31, 2018 EKD, January 2020
  2. Bremische Evangelische , accessed on March 13, 2020
  3. a b Dietmar van Reeken: Lahusen - A Bremen entrepreneurial dynasty 1816–1933. Edition Temmen , Bremen 1996, ISBN 978-3-86108-273-6 , p. 27f.
  4. Georg Huntemann : This church has to be different! End of the national church - future of the confessional church. Bad Liebenzell 1979, ISBN 3-88002-080-9 , p. 85.
  6. Weser-Kurier of March 15, 2013, p. 7: Protestants choose new top.
  7. Archived copy ( memento of the original from May 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. a b BEK website: further information and route map. (As of February 2010)
  10. BEK website: Chapter 8 - Evangelical Information Center. (As of June 2015)
  11. Chapter 8, Information Center of the Bremen Evangelical Church. (As of February 2010)
  12. BEK website: Events and exhibitions in Chapter 8. (February 2010)
  13. Bremer Anzeiger : Church blesses gay couples. New brochure provides information about the "marriage ceremony" of same-sex couples. September 23, 2009.
  14. St. Martini: Municipal Code . Order of spiritual life in St. Martini, V. Church wedding and Christian marriage, point 8. ( Memento of the original from May 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /