Emil Sulze

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Karl Emil Benjamin Sulze (born February 26, 1832 in Kamenz ( Upper Lusatia ), † May 29, 1914 in Bad Oeynhausen ) was a Lutheran pastor who was best known for his commitment to the reform of the parishes.


As a teenager, Sulze was influenced by the piety of the Moravian Brethren in Kleinwelka (near Bautzen , where he attended high school). After studying Protestant theology in Leipzig (with Christian Hermann Weisse, among others ) and receiving his doctorate as Dr. theol. He became a deacon in Johanngeorgenstadt in 1856 , but moved to Osnabrück in 1857 . Appointed pastor at the Johanniskirche in Chemnitz in 1872 , he experienced a mass parish with 47,000 parishioners for the first time and successfully advocated dividing the large parish into smaller pastoral care districts. He continued this from 1876 as pastor at the Dreikönigskirche in Dresden-Neustadt , where initially four pastors were responsible for 50,000 parishioners. In 1899 he retired, but remained literary as one of the leading representatives of cultural Protestantism.

Sulze's grave in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof in Dresden

Sulze is buried in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof in Dresden.

Work and meaning

Sulze advocated his ideal of the “manageable” or “lively community” not only practically but also literarily, in numerous books and articles, especially in the “ Protestant Church Newspaper” , the “ Protestant Monthly Issues” and the “ Christian World . The key point was the division of the parishes initially into smaller districts, for each of which a pastor was responsible, who in turn won over "housefathers" or " presbyters " for smaller visiting districts. This was to bring about the priesthood of all believers and improve pastoral care and communication among one another. Sulze's model of “community care” was based on the association system , in particular on the city ​​missions , but wanted to overcome it at the same time by integrating it into the established church. He also aimed to win back the working class from social democracy for the church.

Since 1881, Sulze also campaigned for the church ideal to be used as a basis for the building of churches . As a meeting room for the congregation, the church room should be “a uniform, uplifting family room with chairs in a semicircle or in a horseshoe shape around the ambon-like pulpit”. It is a community center to ask for meetings within the week to the side. Sulze's ideas were taken up by the Evangelical Social Congress , and from 1910 also by the establishment of the Conference for Protestant Congregational Work (renamed the German Evangelical Congregation Day in 1916 ) and had a lasting influence on church construction in the 20th century .

Fonts (selection)

  • Letter to Archidiaconus Baurschmidt in Lüchow. From an opponent of the new catechism . Deuerlich'sche Buchhandlung, Göttingen 1862
  • The main points of the ecclesiastical doctrine of the faith: presented with the words of the creeds and tested against the holy scriptures and the demands of faith . Hanover: Rümpler 1862 ( online resource ) (2nd edition 1865).
  • Bible and Confession . Goettingen 1863.
  • The Protestant church building . In: Protestantische Kirchenzeitung 28, 1881, Sp. 249–257, 274–279.
  • About the tasks of the Evangelical Church in relation to contemporary social issues . Dresden 1884.
  • The Evangelical Congregation . Gotha: FA Perthes, 1891 (Zimmer's reference library of practical theology, vol. 6); 2nd edition 1906.
  • The progress from the doctrinal church to the church of religious life . Leipzig: OA Schulz, 1901.
  • The reform of the Protestant regional churches according to the principles of modern Protestantism . Berlin: CA Schwetschke u. Son, 1906.
  • The dismissal of Pastor Weingart in Osnabrück. A pamphlet for peace . 1900.
  • The necessary training for the Protestant regional church in the Kingdom of Saxony . Leipzig: Heinsius, 1913.


  • Carl Clemen , Johannes Eger: Living communities. Festschrift for Emil Sulze's 80th birthday on February 26, 1912: with a picture of Emil Sulze . Berlin: de Gruyter 1912.
  • Georg Winter: Memorial speech at the funeral of D. Dr. Emil Sulze, because. Pastor at the Dreikönigskirche in Dresden . 1914.
  • Gottfried Knospe: Emil Sulze and his parish ideal from a contemporary and Reformation perspective . In: Gottfried Fuß (Ed.): Responsibility. Inquiry into questions from theology and history. Festschrift for Regional Bishop D. Gottfried Noth . Berlin 1964, pp. 105-121.
  • Wolfgang Lorenz: Church reform as parish reform presented using the example of Emil Sulze . Berlin (Kirchl. Hochschule), Diss. Theol. 1981
  • Klaus Raschzok : Emil Sulze and Protestant Church Building . In: Jens Bulisch, Dirk Klingner, Christian Mai (eds.): Church art in Saxony. Festgabe for Hartmut Mai on his 65th birthday . Sax-Verlag: Beucha 2002, pp. 197‐221.
  • Eberhard Winkler : Sulze, Emil . In: Religion in Past and Present , 4th ed. Vol. 7, 2004, Col. 1836.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from Hugo Schnell: The Church of the 20th Century . Munich 1973, p. 17