Evangelical Church of Bremen

Map of the Evangelical Church of Bremen in Germany

The Evangelical Church of Bremen (German: Bremische Evangelische Kirche) is a United Protestant member church of the Evangelical Church in Germany in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

The seat of the church is in Bremen. It is a full member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), and is a United church combining both Lutheran and Reformed traditions. Brigitte Boehme became the church's first female president in 2001. The church had approx. 243,000 members as of December 2005 in 68 parishes. Laic presidency is one of the special characteristics of the Evangelical Church of Bremen. It has no theological headmaster. The parishes have a high degree of autonomy, and there is a great variety between liberal and conservative ones. Each member of the church has the free choice, which parish he wants to join. Bremen Cathedral is the most prominent place of worship, but it has no higher status than any other parish. The Evangelical Church of Bremen is a member of the UEK and of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. In Bremen the church has its own evangelical academy. The church has allowed the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex unions.[1]

Area covered

The area covered by the Evangelical Church of Bremen (BEK) is essentially equivalent to the city of Bremen. In the city of Bremerhaven, which forms with Bremen the state Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, only the most important Protestant church, the united Protestant Bürgermeister-Smidt-Gedächtniskirche, belongs to the BEK. The bulk of the other Protestant church parishes in Bremerhaven is Lutheran and they belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, some form part of other not regionally-delineated Protestant denominations. The area covered by these parishes belonged to the former Province of Hanover before 1947.

Presidents of the church committee

Synod (=Kirchentag)

The election of the synod is for six years. The elected leader of the "Kirchentag" is also leader of the church.


When the Protestant Reformation swept through Northern Germany, Bremen's first Protestant prayer took place in one of the chapels of St. Ansgar's Church, Bremen on 9 November 1522. Since that year Bremen was a prevailingly Protestant city. St Peter's Cathedral then belonged to the cathedral immunity district (German: Domfreiheit; cf. also Liberty), an extraterritorial enclave of the neighbouring Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen. The then still Catholic cathedral chapter closed St Peter's in 1532, after a mob of Bremen's burghers forcefully interrupted the Catholic mass and prompted Jacob Probst, the pastor of the nearby Our Lady Church, to preach a Lutheran sermon.

Roman Catholic Church was condemned as a symbol of the abuses of a long Catholic past by most local burghers. In 1547 the chapter, meanwhile prevailingly Lutheran, appointed the Dutch Albert Hardenberg, called Rizaeus, as the first Cathedral preacher of Protestant affiliation. Rizaeus turned out to be a partisan of the rather Zwinglian understanding of the Lord's Supper, which was rejected by the then Lutheran majority of burghers, city council, and chapter. So in 1561, after tremendous quarrels, Rizaeus was dismissed and banned from the city and the cathedral shut again its doors.

However, as a consequence of that controversy the majority of Bremen's burghers and city council adopted Calvinism until the 1590s, while the chapter, being simultaneously the body of secular government in the neighbouring Prince-Archbishopric, clung to Lutheranism. This antagonism between a Calvinistic majority and a Lutheran minority, though of a powerful position in its immunity district (belonging since 1648 to Bremen-Verden and annexed to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen in 1803), remained determinant until in 1873 the Calvinist and Lutheran congregations in Bremen reconciled and founded a united administrative umbrella, the still existing Bremian Evangelical Church, comprising the bulk of Bremen's burghers.

In 1922 the Bremian church counted about 260,000 parishioners.[2]



  1. "Segnung", Feiern (in German), DE: Kirche Bremen.
  2. Müller-Rolli, Sebastian; Anselm, Reiner (1999), Evangelische Schulpolitik in Deutschland 1918–1958: Dokumente und Darstellung [Evangelical church politics in Germany 1918–58: Documents & ?], Eine Veröffentlichung des Comenius-Instituts Münster, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 30, ISBN 3-525-61362-8.

External links

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