Evangelical Church in Hessen-Kassel

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The Evangelical State Church in Hessen-Kassel was a Protestant church that emerged as a territorial church in the German Empire during the Reformation and existed under this name as a regional church until 1934.


The history of the church is inextricably linked with the history of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel , which was created after the state was divided in 1567. In the Landgraviate of Hesse , Philip the Magnanimous had introduced the Lutheran Confession of Reformation as early as 1524 . In 1527 the university was founded in Marburg an der Lahn . Landgrave Moritz founded a chancellery consistory in Kassel in 1599 and in 1605 introduced the Reformed Confession in the territory of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel. However, the area around Marburg remained Lutheran while the university was reformed. The part of the county of Schaumburg acquired in 1640 also remained predominantly Lutheran and retained its own consistory. After the Thirty Years War , Landgrave Wilhelm VI promoted. in the spirit of the Irenik a balance of the confessions. At the end of the 17th century the country opened up to Huguenots and Waldensians . In 1704, another consistory was founded in Marburg in addition to Kassel. From then on Kassel was responsible for the province of Lower Hesse, Marburg for the province of Upper Hesse. By acquiring the county of Hanau-Munzenberg in 1736, Hessen-Kassel finally had two further consistories in Hanau , a Reformed and a Lutheran one, as the county was denominationally mixed.

In 1803 the landgrave was raised to the rank of elector and after the Congress of Vienna he was given the territory of the former clerical principality of Fulda and part of the principality of Isenburg . His domain was designated as the Electorate of Hesse . In 1818 the Protestant congregations of these two areas took part in the Hanau Union , also known as the bookbinding union , in which most of the Protestant congregations of both denominations united to form a uniate church and the two consistories were merged into one. In 1821 an organizational edict for the newly formed provinces of Niederhessen , Oberhessen , Fulda and Hanau determined the establishment of three provincial consistories in Kassel (Niederhessen; a “consistorial deputation” remained in Rinteln for the Schaumburg exclave), Marburg (Upper Hesse) and Hanau. In the middle of the 19th century, the influence of August Vilmar led to a renaissance of the Lutheran creed within the church, which Heinrich Heppe opposed with reference to the Irish tradition of Lower Hesse.

In 1866 the Electorate of Hesse was annexed by Prussia and united with the former Free Imperial City of Frankfurt am Main and the Duchy of Nassau (capital Wiesbaden ) to form the province of Hesse-Nassau (capital Kassel). At this point in time the Prussian administration for the area of the Electorate of Hesse , which now formed the administrative district of Kassel , stated: “In the former Electorate of Hesse, Lutherans, Reformers and Unirtee are in separate church departments next to each other. The consistorial district of Kassel, with the exception of the Lutheran county of Schaumburg and part of the lordship of Schmalkalden, is almost entirely reformed; the consistorial district of Marburg, apart from the reformed county of Ziegenhain, is almost exclusively Lutheran; some congregations in Fulda and in territorial territories, consistently unirtied. ”The fear that the Lutheran creed might be impaired in the course of a takeover of the Prussian Union , however, led to further confessional controversy and finally in 1874 to the formation of the renitente church of unchanged Augsburg confession in Hesse . The efforts of the Prussian minister of education, Heinrich von Mühler , to introduce a presbyterial synodal order in the Protestant church in the administrative district of Kassel also contributed to this, but this was rejected by the Prussian House of Representatives as early as 1871 .

Seal of the consistory for the Kassel district

The three former Hessian consistory districts of Kassel, Marburg and Hanau were combined in 1873 to form a single consistory in Kassel. An (extraordinary) general synod was not called until 1884. On the basis of their resolutions, a presbyterial synodal order based on the old Prussian church constitution of 1873/76 was introduced in 1886. In addition to the unified Kassel consistory, there were two other consistorial districts within the Prussian province of Hessen-Nassau, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, which became part of the Evangelical Church in Hessen and Nassau in the 20th century .

The head of the church in Hessen-Kassel was the respective elector until 1866, after that the king of Prussia as "summus episcopus". Spiritual leaders were theologians with the title superintendent or general superintendent. After the introduction of the Reformation in 1526, a total of six superintendents were deployed throughout Hesse, who had their residence in Kassel, Rotenburg (later Allendorf adW), Alsfeld, Darmstadt and St. Goar. In the middle of the 19th century there were ten superintendents:

  • Kassel Consistory: Kassel (Reformed), Allendorf (Reformed), Rinteln in Schaumburg (Lutheran), Hersfeld (Reformed), Schmalkalden (Lutheran) and Schmalkalden (Reformed)
  • Consistory Marburg: Marburg (Lutheran), Marburg (reformed)
  • Hanau Consistory: Hanau (united), Fulda (united)

When the three consistories were united to form a joint consistory in Kassel in 1873, there were subsequently three superintendent generals as spiritual leaders, one each for the Lutheran, the Reformed and the Uniate Confession. The consistory or the joint senior consistory in Kassel was headed by a president.

After the First World War (elimination of the sovereign church regiment ) a common constitution was passed (1924); since then the church has been called the Evangelical Church in Hessen-Cassel . The consistory became the state church office with a president at its head. However, a confessional union (as happened in Hanau in the 19th century) still did not take place. So there are Lutheran, Reformed and United congregations in Hessen-Kassel to this day, but many congregations only call themselves Protestant.

After 1924 the church was divided into a north, west and south district, each headed by a state pastor. One of these provincial pastors was elected by the provincial church assembly to the provincial pastor for life. He was thus head of the entire church. He was chairman of the church government, which also included the president of the regional church office, the deputy regional pastor, the third regional pastor and a church council as well as 5 elected members of the regional church assembly and their deputies. The first regional pastor was Heinrich Möller , who resigned at the end of 1933 due to the church struggle.

In 1934 the church merged with the Evangelical Church in Waldeck to form the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck . The Schaumburg district, which fell to the province of Hanover in 1932 , was given to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover ; The Schmalkalden exclave in Thuringia remained with the new regional church.

Consistorial presidents, presidents of the regional church office

The consistorial presidents, presidents of the regional church office, vice-presidents of the united consistory and the regional church office from 1873 to 1934 were

Hymn books

The most important hymn books of the Church are:

  • Improved hymn-book for use in public worship as well as private edification, Cassel, 1825.
  • New hymn book for the Evangelical Lutheran congregations in the High Princely Hesse-Casselian Lands and in the Electoral Hessian Lands, Cassel, from 1783.
  • Evangelical church hymn book for the consistorial district of Cassel, published by the Royal Consistory of Cassel with the participation of the General Synodal Committee, Cassel, 1889, later with the title "Church hymn book of the Evangelical Church in Hessen-Cassel".
  • Evangelical hymn book - edition for Hessen-Kassel, Stuttgart, 1948 with the songs of the German Evangelical hymn book.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. "No. 43 “ , in: Provinzial-Correspondenz , (5th year), October 23, 1867, p. 2, accessed on November 15, 2012.