Evangelical Church in Germany (German Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, abbreviated as EKD) is a federation of 23 regional Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant churches. In fact only one member church (the Evangelical Reformed Church) is not restricted to a certain territory. In a certain way the other member churches (Gliedkirchen) resemble dioceses of the Anglican or Catholic Church from an organisational point of view. However, the member churches of the EKD are independent with their own theological and formal organization. Most member churches are led by a (state) bishop. One of the regional leaders is elected Council Chairman (Ratsvorsitzender) of the EKD by the Synod and Church Conference. All regional churches of the EKD are members of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.
Most member churches of the EKD are either Lutheran or "United" (Lutheran-Reformed). Only two member churches are Reformed churches (the Evangelical Reformed Church and the State Church of Lippe).
In Northern and Eastern Germany, the major religion is Protestantism, the Reformed branch in the extreme northwest, and the Lutheran branch in most of the rest. While the majority of Christians in Southern Germany are Roman Catholic, there are some mainly Protestant areas as well, e.g. in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The vast majority of German Protestants (30.8 % - reduced further to 30.5 % in 2006 - of the overall German population) belong to a member church of the EKD. Important Protestant denominations that are not part of the Evangelical Church in Germany include the Evangelical Methodist Church (about 62,000 members), the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church (SELK, about 37,000 members), Baptists organized in the Bund evangelisch-freikirchlicher Gemeinden (Union of Protestant Free-Churches, about 85,000 members), Pentecostals organized in the "Bund Freier Pfingstgemeinden" (Union of Pentecostal Free-Churches, with 43,500 adult members or 120,000 family members, per BFP 2007 website statistics ), Seventh-day Adventist Church, about 36,000 members and the New Apostolic Church (350,000 members).
The Evangelical Church in Germany maintains full communion relationships with member churches of the Lutheran World Federation, the Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. Ordination of women is practiced in all 23 churches within the Evangelical Church in Germany, and many women have been ordained during recent years. There are also several female bishops. Blessing of same-sex unions is practiced in some churches within the Evangelical Church in Germany.
Bishop Dr. Wolfgang Huber has been Chairman of the Council of the EKD since 2003. He is the bishop of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia.
After the defeat of Germany in 1918, a republic was established, and the ties between state and church were broken. Although there had already been strivings towards unification for several years, only in July 1933 was the Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (DEK, or German Evangelical Church) formed, as a union of the 28 German Protestant Landeskirchen and a successor to the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchenbund (German Evangelical Churches League) of 1922. The DEK had been formed under the German Christians' influence, and the National Socialists had major influence on the decisions of the first Reichsynod, via their unambiguous partisanship in successfully backing Ludwig Müller for the office of Reich bishop. He did not manage, however, to prevail over the Landeskirchen in the long term, however, and after the installation of Hanns Kerrl as minister for church matters in a Führer-directive of 16th July 1935, and the foundation of the Protestant Reich Church, the DEK played more or less no further role.
In 1948, freed from the German Christians' influence, the Lutheran churches, the Reformed churches and the United Churches came together as the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, or EKD), at the Conference of Eisenach. In 1969 the churches in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) broke away from the EKD and formed the Bund der Evangelischen Kirchen in der DDR (the League of Evangelical Churches in the German Democratic Republic). In June 1991, following German reunification, the BEK merged with the EKD.
German Protestant church structures are based on federal principles at all levels. Each local church is responsible for Christian life in its own area, while each regional church has its own special characteristics and retains its independence. The Church carries out joint tasks with which its members have entrusted it.
The Church has the following governing bodies, all organised and elected on democratic lines:
They are responsible for fulfilling the Church's tasks as laid down in its constitution.