United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany

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Logo with Luther rose
VELKD member churches.png
VELKD member
churches in light brown, churches with guest status in dark brown
Basic data
Leading clergyman: Ralf Meister , regional bishop of
the Evangelical Lutheran regional church of Hanover
President of the General Synod: Wilfried Hartmann
Head of the office of the VELKD: Horst Gorski
Member churches: 7th
Parishes : 6,748 (December 31, 2019)
Parishioners: 8,430,423 (December 31, 2019)
Share of the
total population:
Address: Official area of ​​the VELKD
in the church office of the EKD
Herrenhäuser Str. 12
30419 Hanover
Official Website: VELKD

The United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD, partly also United Church) is an amalgamation of seven Lutheran regional churches in Germany. It was founded on July 8, 1948 in Eisenach as the successor organization to the Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (Lutherrat) and today comprises around 8.4 million parishioners in seven regional churches. Its aim is to promote and maintain the unity of Lutheranism .

The confessional status of the member churches includes at least the unchanged Augsburg Confession ( Confessio Augustana invariata) and the Small Catechism of Martin Luther .

As a counterpart to the VELKD there was the Evangelical Church of the Union and the Arnoldshain Conference until July 1, 2003 , which on that day were absorbed into the Union of Evangelical Churches . Mostly united regional churches belong to it.

History of the VELKD

The VELKD was founded on July 8, 1948 in Eisenach. Founding members were ten of the then thirteen Lutheran regional churches (Bavaria, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Hanover, Lübeck, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia). Eutin, Oldenburg and Württemberg did not join the VELKD. The faction of the Confessing Church, known as the Luther Council, played a decisive role in this . The foundation of the VELKD is related to the formation of the Evangelical Church in Germany with the strong participation of the Dahlem wing of the Confessing Church. The founding process began with the church conference in Treysa , during which the EKD was founded as a union of Lutheran, Reformed and United regional churches . After extensive theological discussions between the denominations, both the VELKD was founded as a compromise at the church assembly in Eisenach and the basic order of the EKD was adopted on July 13, 1948.

Member churches of the VELKD

Of the originally ten member churches of the VELKD, three member churches merged in 1977, namely the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Hamburg State , the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lübeck and the Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Schleswig-Holstein with the non-member Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Eutin to form the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church . This reduced the number of member churches to eight. Of the predecessors of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany, the Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia , only the latter had previously belonged to the VELKD, while the former belonged to the Union of Evangelical Churches , in which the merged church is now also a member. On May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Sunday in 2012) the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany was formed from the merger of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church - in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein -, the Evangelical Lutheran Regional Church of Mecklenburg and the Pomeranian Evangelical Church . The VELKD now has seven member churches.

In addition to the member churches of the VELKD, there are other regional churches that see themselves as Lutheran churches. These are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg and the Evangelical Regional Church in Württemberg , both of which have guest status in the VELKD. The Lutheran congregations of the predominantly Reformed Lippe regional church are united in a Lutheran class.

In addition, there are also independent Lutheran churches in Germany. a. are non-members of the VELKD for theological reasons, namely:

The latter was created in 1972 from the merger of several Lutheran old confessional churches . Contact discussions take place at regular intervals between SELK and VELKD.

Lutheran regional churches, old confessional Lutheran churches and individual parishes have the opportunity to join the VELKD. Should individual congregations not have their own church regiment, this can be exercised by the church leadership of the VELKD.

The member churches of the VELKD as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg , the Evangelical Regional Church in Württemberg , the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baden and the Lutheran Class of the Lippe Regional Church are member churches of the German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation (DNK / LWB). Until the end of 2017, the DNK / LWB, which is an independent body under public law, was structurally and personally closely linked to the office (official area) of the VELKD. Since January 1, 2018, the DNK / LWB has separated from the VELKD's area of ​​responsibility in terms of both space and personnel due to structural changes in the course of implementing the so-called connection model. In terms of content, VELKD and DNK / LWB continue to work closely together.

Tasks and organs (governing bodies)

The VELKD has its seat in the official area of ​​the VELKD in the church office of the EKD in Hanover, headed by the head of the official area, currently Horst Gorski . This is where the official business of the VELKD's governing bodies is conducted.

The focus of the VELKD is on theological work, in pastoral care, in the inviting design of the church service, in plausible church building and ecumenism. The individual regional churches use the VELKD for larger projects that the churches cannot manage individually. Here, the VELKD is also preferred as a dialogue partner of other churches and denominations in German and international dialogue - this includes the dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Church in Germany , with the Anglicans , the Methodists and the Mennonites .

Organs of the VELKD are the "church leadership" and the "bishops' conference", each of which is presided over by the "leading bishop" (also an organ), as well as the "general synod". All four organs are responsible for the tasks assigned to the VELKD.

Church leadership

The church leadership consists of the “leading bishop”, who holds the chairmanship, the deputy leading bishop, another member of the bishops' conference, the president of the general synod and nine persons to be elected by the general synod from among its members and their deputies . As a rule, the church leadership meets six times a year.

The “leading bishop” is elected by the general synod for a term of three years, with re-election possible. He is the first clergyman of the VELKD and has the right to pulpit in all regional churches of the VELKD, i.e. the right to preach and distribute pastoral letters on all pulpits of the member churches of the VELKD .

Leading bishops of the VELKD

Both churches of the Federal Republic of Germany and churches of the GDR belonged to the VELKD . At the end of the 1960s, it became more and more difficult to fulfill common tasks. Therefore, the Lutheran churches of the VELKD formed their own "East Area" in the area of ​​the GDR, the VELK GDR, with their own "Leading Bishop". The VELK GDR dissolved in 1988 in order to strengthen the Federation of Evangelical Churches in the GDR . In 1991 the three East German regional churches joined the VELKD again. Leading clergy in the east were:

Episcopal Conference

The Bishops' Conference of the VELKD consists of 16 members. It includes the bishops of the VELKD member churches as well as six other ordained church leaders. The chairman of the bishops' conference is the leading bishop of the VELKD.

The Bishops' Conference meets twice a year. In the spring it deals with a key topic and in the autumn it usually meets in advance at the location of the General Synod. The task of the Bishops' Conference is, among other things, to take part in the decision-making process on church laws, regulations for worship and regulations with the force of law.

General Synod

The General Synod is the legislative organ of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD). It is re-formed every six years and usually meets once a year for an ordinary meeting.

The general synod consists of 50 members, of which 42 - 15 of them clergy - are elected by the regional synods of the member churches of the VELKD. 8 members are called by the lead bishop.

The General Synod is headed by a Presidium, which is elected during the constituent meeting. Its chairman is the president of the general synod.

  • President: Wilfried Hartmann (North Church)
  • First Vice-President: Pastor Jacqueline Barraud-Volk (Bavaria)
  • Second Vice President: Superintendent Philipp Meyer (Hanover)
  • Assessor: Colleen Michler (Central Germany)
  • Assessor: Annette Welge (Schaumburg-Lippe)


  • 1948–1949: Eberhard Hagemann , President of the District Court in Verden
  • 1949–1961: Ferdinand Blötz, District Court Director, Hamburg-Volksdorf
  • 1961–1973: Otto Buhbe , farmer
  • 1985–2009: Dirk Veldtrup, judge at the district court in Hanover
  • since 2009: Wilfried Hartmann , Professor of Educational Science in Hamburg

Catholica representative

The VELKD's Catholica representative is specifically responsible for the dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. He is appointed by the church leadership on behalf of the General Synod. Every year the Catholica Commissioner submits a report to the General Synod on the ecumenical events in the relationship with the Catholic Church.

Catholica representative since 1956

Office of the VELKD

Lutheran Church Office (until December 31, 2006) / Office of the VELKD (from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2017) / Office of the VELKD in the Church Office of the EKD (since January 1, 2018), Hanover

The official area of ​​the VELKD has been integrated into the church office of the EKD in terms of content and administration since January 1, 2018 .

President of the Lutheran Church Office

Head of the office of the VELKD / or the official area (since January 1, 2018)

VELKD facilities

  • Constitutional and Administrative Court, Hanover
    President: Bert Schaffarzik (President of the VG Chemnitz )
      1st Senate: Appeals from the Northern Church, constitutional disputes, administrative disputes from administrative
      files 2nd Senate: appeals from Lower Saxony and Saxony, other administrative
      disputes 3rd Senate: appeals from Bavaria and Central Germany
  • VELKD community college in Neudietendorf near Erfurt
    Head: Reiner Knieling
  • Theological study seminar of the VELKD in Pullach
    Rector: Detlef Dieckmann-von Bünau
  • Liturgical Science Institute of the VELKD in Leipzig
    Head: Alexander Deeg
  • Spruchkollegium of the VELKD, Hanover
    Chairman: Karl-Hinrich Manzke


  • Friedrich-Otto Scharbau: Art. United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie 34 (2002), pp. 581-592 (encyclopedia overview)
  • Thomas Schneider: Against the zeitgeist. The way to the VELKD as a Lutheran confessional church. Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2008 (= work on contemporary church history, series B: representations, vol. 49)

Individual evidence

  1. Church membership numbers - counted Statistics 2020, as of December 31, 2019, EKD website, July 2020
  2. Church membership numbers as of December 31, 2019 - short tables of statistics 2020, as of December 31, 2019, EKD website, June 2020
  3. ^ A b Jürgen Jeziorowski: United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany. Founded 50 years ago in Eisenach in 1948. The Wartburg city is closely linked to the history of Lutheranism . In: MFB Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Eisenach (ed.): StadtZeit. City journal with information from the Wartburg district . June issue. Druck- und Verlagshaus Frisch, Eisenach 1998, p. 36-38 .
  4. Ralf Meister is the new leading bishop of the VELKD: Regional bishop of the Hanoverian regional church succeeds Nordkirchen bishop Gerhard Ulrich , VELKD press release of November 9, 2018, accessed on November 9, 2018
  5. Honorary doctorate for Friedrich-Otto Scharbau. Press release 119/2005 of November 21, 2005. Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (uni-kiel.de), accessed on February 21, 2014
  6. http://www.velkd.de/presse/archiv-2015.php , Horst Gorski introduced as the new EKD Vice President and Head of the Office of the VELKD, 10 September 2015
  7. Business distribution plan of the Constitutional and Administrative Court of November 29, 2018 ( OJ VELKD vol. VII p. 625 )

Web links