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A superintendent ( Latin superintendens , literally 'overseer', loan translation from ancient Greek ἐπίσκοπος episkopos ) is the holder of a leadership position in Protestant churches , especially in Germany and Austria.

Duties and official titles

In some German Protestant regional churches , in the Evangelical Church AB in Austria , in many Methodist churches and in the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church , the superintendent is the leading clergyman of a church district , a diocese ( superintendent or superintendent in Austria) or a church district , i.e. an amalgamation of several parishes. The names for comparable offices in other Protestant regional churches in Germany are usually district pastor, district pastor, dean, inspector or provost .

The superintendents visit the church districts and also the full-time and part-time employees of the church districts. Their tasks include the supervision of the pastors and pastors as well as the representation of the church district in public. In addition, they should be the pastors of the pastors.

In the Duchy of Württemberg , after 1551, the office of superintendent was further differentiated into special superintendent and general superintendent . While the special superintendents took on more or less the task of the deans and supervised the teaching and life of the pastors as well as the behavior of the officials and the population of their district, the general superintendents stood in front of the special superintendents and formed the middle level between the church council and special superintendents. The Württemberg model also found widespread use in other German territorial rulers.

In the Roman Catholic Church , the office has no direct equivalent, as it combines the competences of dean / dean, regional dean and bishop . In fact, in Germany the superintendent is usually seen as a counterpart to the dean / dean or regional dean, as they are responsible for a part of the diocese that corresponds to a church district in terms of size. In Austria, the office is compared with the function of a diocesan bishop due to the broad correspondence between the boundaries of the superintendent (which are also called " dioceses " there) and the boundaries of the Roman Catholic dioceses, and the superintendent is seen as having roughly the same rank as a Catholic bishop.

State Superintendent and General Superintendent

The higher-level management office in Germany is called bishop , regional bishop , president or regional superintendent (formerly also: general superintendent ).

In some Protestant regional churches and in the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church there is a regional level in between, whose leading clergyman is referred to as regional bishop , provost , prelate or general superintendent . Their area of ​​activity is often called Sprengel . The tasks of the leading clergy at the regional level include the classic episcopal tasks of ordination and visitation of the superintendent (provided that they are not reserved for the bishop above him); in addition, there is the supervision of the church districts.

Superintendent in Germany

Regional churches with regional superintendent as leading office

Regional churches with superintendents at district level

Old denominational Lutheran church with a superintendent as leader

Regional churches with superintendents at parish district level

Old denominational Lutheran church with superintendents

Methodist churches with superintendents

Churches that used to be a leading superintendent

At the regional church level

At the district level

General superintendent of old Prussian church provinces

At church district level

Superintendent in Austria

In Austria, the superintendents in the Evangelical Church AB are the spiritual leaders of the seven superintendentures ( dioceses ), just as the bishop is the spiritual director of the entire Austrian Church. The Reformed Church (HB) , which consists of only nine parishes, has only one provincial superintendent (also superintendent until 1949 ) as the entire Austrian spiritual director. The United Methodist Church in Austria , a sub-division of the Central and Southern Europe Central Conference of the worldwide United Methodist Church (UMC), is also headed by a superintendent.

See the list of Protestant superintendents in Austria with references to the churches concerned

See also


  • Beatus Brenner: Article Superintendent . In LThK 3 , Vol. 9, Herder, Freiburg a. a. 2000, col. 1135f.
  • Helmut Geck (ed.): Church districts - district synods - superintendents (= Recklinghausen forum for the history of church districts 1). LIT-Verlag, Münster 2004.
  • Isolde Karle : Article Superintendent . In: RGG 4 , Vol. 7, Mohr (Siebeck), Tübingen 2004, Sp. 1904 f.
  • Volker Weymann , Udo Hahn (ed.): The superintendent is different. Structural change and profile of the ephoral office. Lutheran Church Office Hanover, 2nd edition 2006 ( possibility to download ).


  1. Sabine Arend: The emergence of the Württeberg church council and its export during the 16th century . In: Johannes Wischmeyer (ed.): Between ecclesiology and administration. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2013, p. 129 ff.
  2. Wolf-Dieter Hauschild : On the history of the ephoral office in German Lutheranism from the 16th to the 20th century . In: Volker Weymann, Udo Hahn (ed.): The superintendent is different. Structural change and profile of the ephoral office. 2nd Edition. Lutheran Church Office, Hanover 2006, ISBN 3-9809127-6-0 , p. 24 f.
  3. August Ludwig Reyscher : Complete, historically and critically edited collection of the Württemberg laws , Volume 9, Part 2. Fues, Tübingen 1835, p. 198 f.
  4. For example, Section 1, Paragraph 1, Clause 2 of the Superintendent Act of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony of April 10, 2016 ( OJ p. A 87 ( Memento of the original of May 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. , PDF, 220 KB). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. For the officials see the entries on the individual general dioceses Alfeld , Bockenem , Bremen-Verden , Calenberg , Göttingen , Grubenhagen and on the Harz , Harburg , Hildesheim , Hoya-Diepholz , Lüneburg-Celle .