Association of Evangelical Free Churches

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Association of Evangelical Free Churches (VEF)
Basic data
Spiritual direction: President :
Christoph Stiba , General Secretary of the BEFG ,
Deputy. President :
Marc Brenner, President of the Church of God ,
Commissioner at the seat of
the federal government:
Konstantin von Abendroth, pastor
VEF churches: Member
churches: 12 guest churches: 3
(excluding guest churches):
2695 congregations
with approx. 237100 members
December 31, 2007
Legal form: Registered association
Address: VEF office:
Johann-Gerhard-Oncken-Straße 7
14641 Wustermark
Official Website: Association of Evangelical Free Churches

The Association of Evangelical Free Churches (VEF) is an amalgamation of German free churches and free church communities with the aim of better representing common concerns in public, intensifying cooperation in theological and diaconal-social areas, and promoting fellowship between the various free churches. The association based in Berlin has the legal status of a registered association.



The VEF was constituted on April 29, 1926 in Leipzig. The founding members were the Federation of Baptist Congregations in Germany (today the Bund Evangelisch-Free Church Congregations in Germany ), the Free Evangelical Congregations , the Evangelical Community and the Episcopal Methodist Church . The pacemaker for this foundation was the Free Churches Predigerbund of Berlin and the surrounding area , founded in 1896 , from which a Main Committee of Evangelical Free Churches had emerged as early as 1916 .

The main concern of the association was the application and enforcement of the rights for religious communities guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution . In particular, the Free Churches united in the association were concerned with obtaining corporate rights and thus with the formal legal equality with the regional churches.

From the beginning, the VEF also sought dialogue with the people's churches . This mainly concerned issues of everyday church life. In many cases, for example, free church pastors were forbidden to hold mourning services and funerals in regional church cemeteries. Since most of the cemeteries at that time were in the hands of the regional church or Roman Catholic, it was often impossible to carry out free church burials in a dignified setting.

In the Third Reich

Between 1933 and 1934, the VEF was faced with the question of how it should face (compulsory) incorporation into a German Protestant Reich Church . There were certainly supporters of a unified imperial church in the ranks of the Free Churches. Others tried to contact the Confessing Church . Karl Barth , however, opposed this request in a personal statement.

In 1937 two representatives of the German VEF took part in the World Ecumenical Conference in Oxford . The regional church delegates had been refused entry to this conference by the German Nazi authorities by withdrawing their passports. The speech given by the Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Friedrich Heinrich Otto Melle , to the Ecumenical Conference, in which he defended National Socialist policy , led to a deep rift between regional churches and free churches.

post war period

The tensions that had arisen could only be reduced in the years after the war. An initial cooperation between regional churches and free churches developed under pressure from the foreign churches and the aid campaigns they had started for Germany, which was destroyed by the war. Since considerable parts of the donations in money and in kind came from sister churches abroad (including Baptists , Methodists , Mennonites , Quakers ) of the German free churches, the regional churches worked to involve the German free churches in the distribution of the relief supplies. This is how the joint aid organization of Evangelical Churches was founded . The name of this aid organization was a signal: for the first time, the free churches were designated by the regional churches as evangelical churches with equal rights. Further associations and working groups developed in the following years: In 1948 the Working Group of Christian Churches (ACK) was founded, in 1957 the EKD and VEF relief organizations formed the Diaconal Working Group of Protestant Churches .


Due to the political developments in divided Germany, the Association of Evangelical Free Churches split in 1963 into an Association East and an Association West. Contacts through annual meetings, however, continued even during the Cold War . After the reunification of Germany in 1991, the separate associations also merged.

In 1990 the Association for Free Church Research was established in Münster , which until 2001 was called the Association for the Promotion of Research into Free Church History and Theology . Since 1991 he has been publishing a yearbook with the title "Free Church Research", in which mainly lectures, essays, research reports and an annual bibliography appear.

The Association of Evangelical Free Churches has been represented by its own representative at the headquarters of the Federal Government in Berlin since 2000 . In the years 2000 to 2006 this commission was carried out by the theologian and publisher Dr. Dietmar Lütz exercised. The Berlin pastor (Baptist church Wedding) Peter Jörgensen was appointed as his successor. A representative of the Association of Evangelical Free Churches is also accredited by the North Rhine-Westphalian state government in Düsseldorf . This function is currently performed by the Adventist pastor Stefan Adam.

The VEF has its statutory seat in Frankfurt am Main.

The free churches of the VEF


Guest members


VEF Free Churches Members in Germany Municipalities in Germany Members worldwide
Working group of Mennonite congregations 5,000 54 1,300,000
Association of Evangelical Free Churches / Baptist and Brethren congregations 82,000 797 45,479,082
Federation of Free Protestant Congregations 41,200 400 1,000,000
The Salvation Army in Germany 1,400 42 3,000,000
Methodist Church 52,000 568 80,500,000
Church of the Nazarene 1,100 20th 2,300,000
Mülheim Association of Free Church Evangelical Congregations 4,500 40 -
Federation of Free Church Pentecostal Congregations 53,500 603 250,000,000
(figures vary widely)
Evangelical Brothers Unity / Moravian Brothers Congregation 5,800 17th 762,000
Free church covenant of God's church 2,500 30th 787,000
Church of God 3,600 70 10,000,000
Seventh-day Adventist Free Church 34,800 576 16,900,000
Apostolic Community 3,600 47 -


The VEF is headed by a five-person board: President, Vice-President, Secretary. In addition, representatives of the member and guest churches belong to the executive committee of the VEF. Special representatives are appointed for special tasks. At the moment these are the free church advisor in the Ecumenical Center of the ACK in Frankfurt am Main, the representative at the seat of the federal government in Berlin and the press spokesman for the VEF. The current president is Christoph Stiba , general secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches .

The seat of the office changes and corresponds to the seat of the president. The VEF also maintains a contact point in Berlin.

The VEF work mainly takes place in working groups.

See also


  • Association of Evangelical Free Churches (ed.): Free Church Handbook - Information, Addresses, Texts, Reports , Wuppertal 2004, ISBN 3-417-24868-X
  • this. (Ed.): Free Church Handbook. Information - Addresses - Reports , Wuppertal 2000 [At least in the area of ​​"Texts and Documents" not yet overtaken by the 2004 edition], ISBN 3-417-24154-5

Web links


  1. VEF has elected a new board: “With united forces for the people”. Retrieved March 30, 2017 (English).
  2. ^ Journal Die Gemeinde , 10/2008, p. 23
  3. The figures for Germany are as of December 31, 2015 and are taken from the 2016/2017 yearbook of the Federation of Evangelical Free Churches. The number of members of the Baptist World Federation (BWA) comes from the official website of the BWA ( [1] ).
  4. ^ AG 1 - Evangelism and Missionary Church Building. Retrieved March 30, 2017 (English).