Evangelical Upper Church Council (Prussia)

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Evangelical Upper Church Council - Berlin

The Evangelical Upper Church Council (mostly abbreviated EOK, occasionally also EO) ​​was the supreme administrative authority of the Evangelical Church in the provinces that belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia before 1866 and its successor church , the Church of the Old Prussian Union . Its seat was in Berlin .


As in other German territorial states, in Brandenburg-Prussia the administration of the affairs of the Protestant churches in the course of the sovereign church regiment was carried out by consistories . For the entire territory of the monarchy, the Lutheran Upper Consistory (1750–1808), the Reformed Church Directorate (1713–1808) and the Consistoire supérieure des communeautés réformées françaises (1701–1809) were responsible until they were dissolved in 1808/09 and their tasks were assigned to a section for cultural affairs in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior . In 1815 consistories were again created for the individual Prussian provinces; however, the central responsibility remained with the "Ministry of Culture", newly founded in 1817 ( Ministry of spiritual, educational and medical matters ). Demands to re-establish a purely ecclesiastical authority for the internal affairs of the regional church uniate since 1817 were raised again and again, among others by the Prussian General Synod in 1846 . King Friedrich Wilhelm IV set up a senior consistory on January 28, 1848, which was repealed by the March government on April 15, as the Minister of Education, Maximilian von Schwerin-Putzar , wanted to create a presbyterial-synodal self-government for the church. When the counter-revolution prevailed again in Prussia in the autumn of 1848, however, the king followed up his previous plan and in January 1849 set up a “Department for Internal Protestant Church Matters” in the Ministry of Culture. In order to fulfill § 12 of the constitution of December 1848 (= § 15 of the constitution of 1850), according to which the Evangelical Church, "like every other religious society, ... regulates and administers its affairs independently", a royal decree of 29 June 1850 that the department for internal evangelical church affairs should be spun off from the ministry of culture and transformed into the evangelical senior church council.


On July 11, 1850, the new authority officially began its work. The Silesian lawyer Rudolf von Uechtritz (1803–1863) was the first president of the EOK . The other councils, including the theologians Daniel Amadeus Neander , Karl Wilhelm Moritz Snethlage , Friedrich Strauss , Ludwig August Bollert and Wilhelm Ross and the lawyers Friedrich Julius Stahl , Heinrich von Mühler and Ämilius Ludwig Richter , however, continued to work in the ministry itself. All members of the EOK were appointed by the king and were responsible to him, so that constitutional lawyer Ernst Rudolf Huber judged its establishment as "reinforcing the authority-authority-church moment in Prussian Protestantism" and "establishing church absolutism".

Karl Immanuel Nitzsch , who had joined the EOK in 1852, managed to get rid of efforts to push back the Union . Otherwise, the EOK was an instrument of conservatism under von Uechtritz and his successors. It was only when Emil Herrmann took over the presidency in 1872 and was supported by the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Adalbert Falk that the EOK temporarily became a promoter of church liberalism . With the parish and synodal order of 1873/76, the church constitution of the eastern provinces of Prussia was supplemented. The center of power, however, remained the EOK, which under President Ottomar Hermes again clearly promoted the “ church-positive ” direction. On behalf of the other regional churches, the EOK has also been taking care of German congregations abroad since 1884, most of which had been founded in Prussia.

Under President Friedrich Wilhelm Barkhausen, the EOK campaigned on behalf of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890, initially for a socio-political engagement of the pastors, but banned the same activity again in 1895. After the chairmanship of the German Evangelical Church Committee, which was founded in 1903, was permanently linked to the presidency of the EOK, the EOK grew to be of outstanding importance for all German Protestantism. He kept this position in the Weimar Republic , as the EOK president also chaired the committee of the German Evangelical Church Federation. After the elimination of the sovereign church regiment in 1918, the EOK initially continued to operate unchanged and also largely retained its functions when the Prussian regional church became the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union in 1922/24 through a new church order. However, the actual church leadership now lay with the church senate elected by the synod.

During the Nazi era, the EOK, like almost all church authorities, was quickly brought into line. When EOK President Hermann Kapler resigned on June 8, 1933 and Ernst Stoltenhoff was appointed his acting successor without obtaining the required confirmation from the government, this provided the handle for the appointment of August Jäger as State Commissioner in the Old Prussian Church. On August 4, 1933, Ludwig Müller was elected chairman of the EOK by the church senate, but after his election as regional and imperial bishop, at the end of September, he handed over the office to Friedrich Werner, who had already been appointed provisional by Jäger . At the beginning of 1934, Müller once again usurped the chairmanship of the EOK, which he dovetailed closely with the church chancellery of the German Evangelical Church . After his disempowerment, Werner took over the chairmanship of the EOK again in November.

After the end of the Second World War, Otto Dibelius was appointed EOK President by a provisional church leadership in August 1945. But he could not prevent the provincial churches from becoming independent and the Church of the Old Prussian Union thus falling apart. On July 30, 1951, the EOK was transformed into a church chancellery. It existed as the church chancellery of the Evangelical Church of the Union (EKU) from 1953 to the end of 2003, then as the church chancellery of the Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK). Since the beginning of 2007 there is only one official position in the church office of the Evangelical Church in Germany in Hanover.

Service building

Entrance to the former Old Prussian EOK, since 2007 the seat of the Evangelical Church Office for the Bundeswehr , Berlin.

The offices of the EOK, initially provisionally in the apartment of President von Uechtritz, had been in the “v. Winterfeldtschen Haus ”at Köthener Straße 38 (in the so-called “ Privy Council District ” ). In 1910–11 a representative new building was built by Adolf Bürckner and Fritz Herrmann according to plans by the architect Eduard Fürstenau at Jebensstraße 3 (in the then still independent Charlottenburg , right next to the Zoo station ) and put into operation in January 1912.



  • The development of the Protestant regional church of the older Prussian provinces since the establishment of the Protestant Oberkirchenrats . Berlin 1900 (commemorative publication for the 50th anniversary of the EOK).
  • Evangelical upper church council . In: Heinrich Schnee: German Colonial Lexicon . 3 volumes. 1st edition. Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig 1920 (reprint: 2nd edition. Suppes, Wiesbaden 1996, ISBN 3-9804954-0-X ), Volume IA – G, p. 593.
  • Oskar Söhngen (Ed.): Hundred Years of Evangelical Higher Church Council of the Old Prussian Union 1850-1950 . Wichern-Verlag, Berlin 1950.
  • Wilhelm Hüffmeier , Christa Stache: Jebensstraße 3. A memory book . Union of Evangelical Churches in the EKD, Berlin 2006.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Instruction, in front of the Lutheran Ober = Consistorium, established over all royal lands, de dato Berlin, October 4th. 1750 , printed in: Corpus Constitutionum Marchicarum, Oder Königl. Preussis. and Churfürstl. Brandenburgische in der Chur- and Marck Brandenburg, also incorporated Landen, published and issued regulations, Edicta, Mandata, Rescripta etc .: From the times of Frederick I Elector of Brandenburg, etc. bit under the government of Friderich Wilhelm, King in Prussia, etc. ad annum 1736. inclusive , IV. Continuatio, column 291 ff.
  2. German Constitutional History, Vol. 4, pp. 836 f .; quoted from Hartmut Sander: The imposed constitution and the establishment of the Evangelical Upper Church Council (1850) . In: JF Gerhard Goeters , Rudolf Mau (ed.): The history of the Evangelical Church of the Union. Vol. 1: The beginnings of the union under the sovereign church regime (1817-1850) . Leipzig 1992, pp. 402-418, here p. 418.
  3. See Wilhelm H. Neuser : Union and Confession . In: Joachim Rogge , Gerhard Ruhbach (ed.): The history of the Evangelical Church of the Union. Vol. 2. The independence of the church under the royal summit episcopate (1850–1918) . Leipzig 1994, pp. 29-42.
  4. See the reprint of the decrees and other documents in: Collection of sources for the history of German social policy 1867 to 1914 , III. Department: Expansion and differentiation of social policy since the beginning of the New Course (1890-1904) , Volume 1, Basic Questions of Social Policy , edited by Wolfgang Ayaß , Darmstadt 2016, No. 48 No. 91–93; see. Klaus Erich Pollmann : Sovereign Church Regiment and Social Question. The Evangelical Upper Church Council of the Old Prussian Regional Church and the socio-political movement of the clergy after 1890 (= publications of the Historical Commission in Berlin, vol. 44). de Gruyter: Berlin-New York 1973.
  5. See Bernhard Karnatz : About the resignation of President D. Dr. Hermann Kapler . In: Oskar Söhngen : The first phase of the church struggle: (June 24 to July 2, 1933) . OO 1973; Joachim Mehlhausen : The Interventions of the National Socialist State and the Rule of the German Christians (1933-1934) . In: Gerhard Besier , Eckhard Lessing (ed.): The history of the Evangelical Church of the Union. Vol. 3. Separation of State and Church. Church-political crises. Renewal of ecclesiastical communion. (1918-1992) . Leipzig 1999, pp. 232-263
  6. ^ Kurt Meier: The evangelical church fight . Vol. 1, Niemeyer, Berlin, 1976, p. 272 ​​f.
  7. See Jürgen Kampmann: Reorientation after the end of the Second World War and external and internal problems of the post-war years . In: Gerhard Besier, Eckhard Lessing (ed.): The history of the Evangelical Church of the Union . Volume 3: Separation of State and Church. Church-political crises. Renewal of the church community (1918–1992) . Leipzig 1999, pp. 561-603 and 604-649.