Leuenberg Agreement

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The Agreement of Reformation Churches in Europe, shortly Leuenberg Agreement , ( English Agreement between Reformation churches in Europe (Leuenberg Agreement) , French Concorde entre Eglises issues de la Réforme en Europe (Concorde de Leuenberg) ), abbreviated mostly LK, is an ecumenical document, which was adopted in 1973 in the conference center Leuenberg in Hölstein near Liestal ( canton Basel-Landschaft ). Their aim was to end the church division between the Reformed and Lutheran churches and to establish church fellowship among the Lutheran, Reformed and United churches in Europe . This made it the founding document of the Community of Evangelical Churches in Europe .

Prehistory and origin

Because of the Last Supper dispute between the reformers Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli , there had been no communion between Lutherans and Reformed people for centuries . Even after the establishment of the Evangelical Church in Germany , it remained that the Lutherans did not want to issue a general invitation to Reformed Christians. Arnoldshainer's Last Supper theses , presented after ten years of work in 1957 and supplemented in 1962 , were not accepted by the Lutheran churches. So it made sense to seek the solution on an international level and to follow up on the talks that have been held at European level since 1955 on the initiative of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. The first series of conversations (1955–1960) had resulted in more general approximations; the “Schauenburg Talks” (1964–1967), on the other hand, ended with a final report, which named as the goal a “joint theological declaration to be ratified by the churches”.

From April 1969, official delegates of the Protestant churches in Europe worked on such a declaration in working groups and regular plenary meetings on the Leuenberg. In the summer of 1970 a report on church fellowship and church separation was published which defined church fellowship as "a testimony to the unity of the church believed in Christ" (No. 14) and developed its preconditions more precisely. The theological foundation is primarily due to the German Lutheran Wenzel Lohff , who (alongside Max Geiger , Marc Lienhard , Joachim Staedtke and Horst Lahr ) is to be regarded as one of the main authors of the Agreement. In the autumn of 1971 the “Draft of a Concord of Reformation Churches in Europe” was sent to the participating churches and revised in March 1973 on the basis of their statements. Of the 39 theologians who took part in the final vote, four abstained; there were no opposing votes.


In a total of 49 paragraphs, the Agreement first names the goal and sets out the prerequisites for church fellowship (preamble and part I), then develops the common understanding of the Gospel including the common understanding of baptism and the Lord's Supper and explains the mutual rejections of the Reformation confessional writings as today no longer applicable (Part III). In the fourth section, church fellowship is explained on this basis, including pulpit and communion fellowship, mutual recognition of ordinations and the obligation to "as much as possible togetherness in witness and service to the world" (§ 29). The realization of church fellowship is carried out under the headings “Witness and Service”, “Theological Further Work”, “Organizational Conclusions” and “Ecumenical Aspects”.


Even after the publication of the draft and again after the publication of the text, criticism came from the Lutheran side; both from the old Lutheran churches (which admittedly were not involved in the drafting or invited to sign it) as well as from theologians from German regional churches ( Ernst Sommerlath , Jörg Baur ) and Scandinavian folk churches ( Leiv Aalen , Tuomo Mannermaa ). The bishops Hermann Dietzfelbinger , Oskar Sakrausky and Johann Gottfried Maltusch also rejected the Agreement, which delayed the approval of their churches.

By April 1976, however, 69 of the 88 churches addressed had signed up. To date (January 2020) there are 98 churches that have signed the Agreement, some of which have now merged with one another.

The obligation to deepen the community was initially only realized by continuing the theological doctrinal conversations. Over time, however, the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) developed from this cooperation , until 2003 the Leuenberg Church Community . In addition to the signatories of the Leuenberg Agreement, it also includes seven Methodist churches in Europe, which did not sign the text of the Agreement, but instead joined in 1997 on the basis of a "Joint Declaration on Church Fellowship".

Editions of the text (selection)


  • Tuomo Mannermaa : From Prussia to Leuenberg. Background and development of the theological method of the Leuenberg Agreement (= work on the history and theology of Lutheranism. NF Volume 1). Lutherisches Verlags-Haus, Hamburg 1981, ISBN 3-7859-0480-0 .
  • Elisabeth Schieffer: From Schauenburg to Leuenberg. Origin and meaning of the Agreement of Reformation Churches in Europe (=  denominational and controversial theological studies. Volume 48). Verlag Bonifatius-Druckerei, Paderborn 1983, ISBN 3-87088-341-3 ; also: Freiburg (Breisgau), university, dissertation, 1982.
  • William G. Rusch, Daniel F. Martensen (Eds.): The Leuenberg Agreement and Lutheran Reformed Relationships. Evaluations by North American and European Theologians. Augsburg, Minneapolis, MN 1989, ISBN 0-8066-2436-1 .
  • Martin Friedrich: From Marburg to Leuenberg. The Lutheran-Reformed Contrast and Overcoming it. Spenner, Waltrop 1999, ISBN 3-933688-29-9 .
  • Wilhelm H. Neuser : The emergence and theological formation of the Leuenberg Agreement 1971 to 1973 (=  Theology: Research and Science. Volume 7). Lit, Münster 2003, ISBN 3-8258-7233-5 .
  • Michael Beintker , Martin Heimbucher (ed.): Connecting theology. Perspectives of the Leuenberg Agreement. Neukirchen-Vluyn 2014.
  • Jan Gross: plurality as a challenge. The Leuenberg Agreement as a mediation model for Reformation churches in Europe. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-525-53127-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from Elisabeth Schieffer: From Schauenburg to Leuenberg. Origin and meaning of the Agreement of Reformation Churches in Europe (=  denominational and controversial theological studies. Volume 48). Bonifatius, Paderborn 1983, ISBN 3-87088-341-3 , p. A33 f.
  2. ^ Republished in Mario Fischer , Martin Friedrich (Hrsg.): Kirchengemeinschaft. Basics and Perspectives / Church Communion. Principles and Perspectives (= Leuenberger Texte 16). Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2019, pp. 143–158.
  3. Cf. Ulrich Asendorf, Friedrich Wilhelm Künneth (ed.): From the true unity of the church. Lutheran voices on the Leuenberg draft agreement. Verlag Die Spur, Berlin 1973, ISBN 3-87126-121-1 .
  4. See Ulrich Asendorf, Friedrich Wilhelm Künneth (ed.): Leuenberg. Agreement or Discord? Die Spur, Berlin / Schleswig (Holstein) 1974, ISBN 3-87126-204-8 .
  5. See Hermann Brandt (Ed.): Church teaching in ecumenical commitment. A study on the reception of ecumenical documents. Stuttgart 1986, pp. 21-30.
  6. Printed e.g. B. in Harding Meyer , Damaskinos Papandreou , Hans Jörg Urban , Lukas Vischer (eds.): Documents of growing agreement . All reports and consensus texts of interdenominational discussions at world level. Volume 3. 1990-2001. Paderborn / Leipzig 2003, ISBN 978-3-89710-256-9 , pp. 778-783.