Parish leadership

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The parish leadership , usually a committee , manages the business of a parish . Designation, appointment and powers differ considerably depending on the religious community .

The Roman Catholic Church knows the parish administration council for this , sometimes also referred to as the foundation council , church council or church administration (in Austria also parish council ). However, if it is a public corporation, as in many cantons in Switzerland, the church is subject to state law (in the dual system) and the parish is subject to the management of church maintenance (in contrast to the parish, under the direction of the pastor or community leader and the parish council ).

There is great diversity on the Protestant side. The following terms are common:

Importance in the Roman Catholic Church

With recognition under public law

In areas in which the Roman Catholic Church has the status of a public corporation within the framework of a state-recognized regional church , a distinction is made between ecclesiastical and constitutional bodies. In addition to a (canonical) parish council (also parish council ), which is responsible for the affairs of parish life, analogous to the parish council of the political community, there is a (state church law) church administration for the public church parish, which primarily deals with the state regulated Concerns (church taxes, financial administration, employment contracts, etc.). The church properties in turn normally belong to a foundation (parish church foundation).

Recognition under public law is tied to certain conditions. In Switzerland this is the democratic design. While all Catholics can have a say in the parish, in the parish only those who are entitled to vote are allowed to vote. In the canton of Zurich , the relevant state (cantonal) laws and ordinances were adapted to the year 2010 so that the right to vote in church matters, in addition to the place of residence, no longer depend on the nationality , which is decisive in state matters , but on baptism and religious affiliation .

According to canon law

The organization according to canon law , where no higher state law applies, see: Parish Board of Directors

Significance in the Old Catholic Church

In Old Catholic churches , including the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland , the ecclesiastical congregation, simply called “congregation” there, is led by a body. The body is called “Church Council” in Germany, “Parish Council” in Austria, “Council of Churches” in Switzerland and Collegiaale Bestuur in the Netherlands .

The primary governing body of an Old Catholic congregation, however, is the congregation assembly, at which all important decisions (e.g. budget, election of pastors) are made. In this it differs fundamentally from Protestant churches, in which the community assembly only plays a subordinate role.

Significance in the Protestant churches

In the name “circle of elders” or “presbytery”, the spiritual dimension of the office that is typical of the Protestant churches is expressed. The basic Protestant concern of the general priesthood of all believers and the rejection of the Roman Catholic division into consecrated priests ( clergy ) and lay people are emphasized . As a result, the Protestant governing bodies have far more extensive say than a Roman Catholic parish council , especially in the areas of pastoral care and the organization of church services. The lay people in the church leadership are also usually involved in the dispensing of the sacrament in the communion service . The basic order of the Evangelical Regional Church in Baden determines, for example, in Section 20, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2: The group of elders “leads the congregation and is responsible for ensuring that God's word is preached to the congregation in a pure and louder manner, the sacraments are properly administered and the service love is done. "

Legal regulations in the Protestant churches

Since the (EKD) consists of different Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches, the position of the governing body of the congregations also differs greatly and depends on the respective church constitution and the canon law issued on this basis . Communities that do not belong to the EKD already know their own canonical regulations. In the EKBO the current electoral law (ÄWG) applies in the version of April 25, 2015.

Member churches of the EKD

Evangelical Church in Baden

The Evangelical Church in Baden builds on the parishes . For them, the assignment to a pastor's office is constitutive, § 11 Paragraph 1 of the Basic Regulations (GO) . The parish elects men and women from among its members as church elders who, together with the pastor, form the group of elders, Section 20 (1) GO. The community members already have the active right to vote at the age of 14, the candidates, however, must be 16 years old on election day at the latest, §§ 13 ff. GO.

In deliberate deviation from state law, the Baden regional church does not have a list, but rather a majority voting system (cf. on this and the following the church election regulations with implementation provisions). The electoral district elections take place every six years, most recently in 2019. The legislative period is coordinated with that of the Württemberg parish councils in order to achieve a uniform election date in Baden-Württemberg . The electoral elections take place as general church elections, so all church electoral offices are filled at the same time. Each newly elected group of elders therefore also elects members of the synod of the church district , and the new district synod in turn elects synods of the regional synod. The community assembly also re-elects its chairman after the church elections.

Parish vicars , a representative of the religious teachers , the chairman of the parish assembly and district synodals can also belong to the group of elders in an advisory capacity, § 22 GO. If the group of elders elects an elected elder as chairman, the parish priest is his deputy and vice versa. The elders have extensive authority. He elects the parish priest, decides on applications for admission to the church, on differences of opinion according to the rules of life (admissibility of baptism , confirmation , church wedding and burial in cases of doubt), participates in the church services, administers the parish assets and otherwise makes all decisions that are of some importance for the parish (§ 20 GO). The meetings are generally not open to the public (Section 13 (3) LWG).

The parish council as the governing body of the parish is to be distinguished from the group of elders (§§ 27 ff. GO). Normally, several legally dependent parishes form one parish with legal capacity. In contrast to the parish, there is no clergyman assigned to it. The parish council is then formed from members of the elders. However, it often happens that the parish consists of only one parish. Then the parish is identical to the parish, the group of elders is also the parish council. The meetings of the parish council are generally public (Section 24 (1) LWG). It decides on the budget for the parish and its parishes. Its chairman represents the parish in legal dealings.

Evangelical Church in the Rhineland

The parishes of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland are led by the presbytery. This includes the parish priests as born members as well as a number of presbyters depending on the size of the parish. Care is taken to ensure that the number of volunteers clearly exceeds that of theologians. If two pastors (usually a married couple) share a pastorate, only one is a member of the presbytery, the other has an advisory role. Other clergymen can take part in the meetings in an advisory capacity, as can employees in matters relating to their work area. At least one member of staff should be represented in each presbytery.

The tasks of the presbytery encompass all of the life of the church. B. about all attitudes (including the election of new pastors), about the time and course of the services, the confirmation or about the construction, maintenance and sale of church buildings and land. The higher-level supervisory authority is the District Synodal Board, and the church leadership in the case of particularly serious decisions in financial, personal or structural terms.

The election of the presbytery takes place every four years. All confirmed parishioners are entitled to vote. For reasons of administrative simplification, the confirmation certificate is waived for those over 16 years of age.

Community members from the age of majority up to the completion of the 75th year are eligible. With the 75th birthday one has to leave the presbytery. Employees employed by the church other than pastors are elected from a separate list. You have slightly restricted powers in the presbytery. So they may z. B. not take over the presidency or a church master's office. Close relatives of a presbyter are not eligible for election. Due to the increasing unemployment of ordained theologians, the previous regulation, according to which ordained persons cannot be elected to the presbyteral office, was changed to the effect that ordained persons can be elected as presbyters if they are not in a parish service.

For each parish office in the parish, the presbytery sends a delegate to the district synod, the parliament of the church district. The parish priests are born members there (in the case of shared posts: only those who are members of the presbytery).

Evangelical Church in Württemberg

The Württemberg church congregations are led jointly by the chosen church council and pastor, § 16 church order (KGO). The elections take place every six years, at the same time as the Baden church elections. Whoever has reached the age of 14 may vote; those to be elected must be of legal age.

The parish council can appoint one of its members as chairman, who is then appointed by the dean as an honorary official for a time and is entitled to reimbursement of expenses and a lump sum for expenses (§ 23 KGO). The pastor is then the second chairman. Alternatively, the pastor can also be elected to the chair, but without the legal consequences mentioned above. The chairpersons are the supervisors of the employees in the parish, represent the parish in legal dealings and have suspensive effect to object to resolutions of the parish council that violate church law (§ 24 KGO). The meetings of the parish council are generally public.

According to Section 12 (2) KGO, the parish council can elect up to four further members with two thirds of the votes of its members. However, the number of those elected may not exceed a quarter of the elected members. In doing so, priority should be given to people who can bring special skills, experience and knowledge to the various work areas of the parish.

The tasks of the parish council include filling the pastor's position, establishing the local church service regulations, managing the parish assets and exercising house rules. The parish council is made up of an elected “church clerk” who supports the parish council in legal, administrative and property matters, § 37 KGO. Depending on the size of the congregation and the administrative burden, the church caretakers are mostly part-time or full-time employees of the parishes.

Several parishes can join together to form general parishes. Then there is a joint body in addition to the individual parish councils, the general parish council.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria

The powers of from pastors and elected and existing (of these) appointed members of church council of a church (called churchwarden indoor and churchwardens) are in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria ff by §§ 18. The parish order specified. The church council elects - usually but not necessarily from among its members - a " church clerk " who is responsible for adhering to the budget. The term of office of the church council is six years, Section 30 (1) KGO. All who have reached the age of 14 or who have already been confirmed are entitled to vote . The last church council elections took place on October 21, 2018. Neighboring congregations can join together to form total church congregations, they are then managed by the total church administration, which consists of pastors and church leaders (§§ 86 ff KGO).

Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Hanover

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover , parishioners aged 14 and over are eligible to vote. The term of office of the church council (cf. §§ 26 ff Parish Regulations) is six years. The last church board election took place on March 11, 2018, together with the elections in other regional churches in Lower Saxony.

Evangelical Church of Westphalia

The parishes of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia are led by a presbytery . It includes the presbyters elected by the parishioners (Greek: elders) and the pastors. The presbyters must be at least 18 years old, and confirmed parishioners are allowed to vote from 14. The elections for the presbytery take place every four years, the last time being on February 14, 2016.

The presbytery is responsible for preaching the word of God and all ministry of the church. It elects the pastors, administers the parish and, when drawing up the budget, also decides on the use of church taxes. The size of a presbytery depends on the number of parishioners, if larger parishes are divided into districts, district presbyteries are often set up. The men and women in the presbytery have usually specialized in certain areas of responsibility (e.g. kindergarten, youth work, construction matters or cemetery issues) - but everything is shared jointly.

Methodist Church

The church governing body of the Evangelical Methodist Church (UMC) is called the parish council . The Methodist Church Council , on the other hand, has functions on a higher organizational level (for example all of Germany).

In the UMC, several spatially neighboring congregations often belong to one district . In rare cases only one municipality forms a district. At the district level, in addition to the district conference, there is also a district board that meets between the district conferences and is accountable to it.

Some members are ex officio members of the ward : pastors and lay elected members of the Annual Conference . The other members are determined by the district conference. The term of office is four years. One of the tasks of the parish council is to recommend acceptance into full church membership. The other duties are assigned to him by the district conference, to which he is accountable.


Individual evidence

  1.,0,0,0,d&pw=k76m#iphDuales%20System »
  2. ^ A right to vote for foreigners and an expansion of the parish election. In: August 18, 2009, accessed October 14, 2018 .
  3. § 47 of the Synodal and Community Regulations (SGO), cf. SGO
  4. ( Memento of the original of July 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Elders' Election Act of the EKBO
  6. Archived copy ( memento of the original from June 9, 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 /
  7. , accessed on March 18, 2012
  8. ^ Church election 2016. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 16, 2016 ; accessed on January 5, 2018 . 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. ^ Constitution, Doctrine and Order (VLO) of the UMC, 2015 edition, Art. 244; (accessed: March 26, 2016)