A Short Information
The Evangelical Reformed Church was founded in 1882. The German King and Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia allowed the reformed congregations in northwestern Germany to merge to a synod. Over the centuries, more reformed congregations joined, e.g. the Reformed Church of Bavaria in 1990. Reformed congregations from Eastern Germany followed after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Today, the Church consists of 145 congregations with 9 regional synods and extends over the entire territory of Germany.
„No congregation or parishioner can claim priority or control over another. Only presbyteries and synods take care of leading the church.“
This principle from the Church constitution stems from resolutions of the ‚Emder Synode’ (synod of the city of Emden) in 1571, which was created on the basis of Johannes Calvin’s Geneva ecclesiastical ordinances. As a result, the Evangelical Reformed Church identifies as a parish church in which each congregation elects their own pastor.
The reformation by Huldrych Zwingli in Zurich and Johannes Calvin in Geneva formed the basis for the Evangelical Reformed Church’s theology. Martin Luther played an important role as a reformer as well. Apart from the Zurich translation, Luther’s translation of the Holy Bible is very popular in the congregations.
The ‚Schepken Christi’ (Low German for Christ’s Ship) is of special significance for the Evangelical Reformed Church. In 1655, religious refugees from the Netherlands showed their gratitude to the congregation in Emden by donating a relief to the city’s “Grote Kerk”. It displays an aphorism: “God’s church, persecuted and displaced, has consoled God here.” For a long time now, the ‘Schepken’ has been part of the church’s seal and logo.
The churches are characterized by a simple design. The Second Commandment requires to “not make an image for yourself” – as this is strictly followed, there are no crosses in the churches. The proclamation of God’s Word in the sermon is at the center of the service.
Evangelical Reformed christians are a minority in the 22 Mio. protestants in Germany. Most of the roughly 1.5 Mio reformed protestants are members of united regional churches like Berlin-Brandenburg or Rhineland. 171.000 parishioners belong to the Evangelical Reformed Church. It is based in the small town of Leer in East Frisia.