A country church is according to current understanding, a generally territorially demarcated national coalition of religious communities, the forms usually also a public corporation. In Liechtenstein, the term national church is synonymous with state church.

  • 3.1 Evangelical Reformed Churches
  • 3.2 Roman Catholic country churches

Lutheran Church in the Middle Ages

Based on the pre-Reformation period, the term of the National Church, the church organization of a particular territory understood that was indeed a rule to a higher authority subordinate ( the Pope or Patriarch ), but had an increased level of self-employment, particularly in their internal structure and their relation to the respective secular rulers were concerned. The presence of a separate national church played a major role in the delimitation especially early medieval kingdoms over other territories.

Regional churches in Germany


In Germany, the term resulted in today's understanding of an emergency situation: unlike in Scandinavia and England the German bishops were in their great majority not to Reformation, so that it was not possible to pass the hergebrachte diocesan system under the sign of the new commitment further to leave. Therefore called Martin Luther, that the secular rulers should proceed temporarily exercise the episcopal function in their territories.

From the Reformation period also the principle cuius regio, eius religio ( whose region, his religion). Then certain of the sovereign, his subjects had to belong to any denomination. This promoted the formation of closed, private country churches. The principle, however, was softened in the practice of religious policy in the Holy Roman Empire with and after the Thirty Years War soon.

Until the abolition of the monarchy in Germany in 1918, the rulers in the administrative area country bishops, and the binding of church and state were thus particularly close. This was true even when rulers of other denomination. Thus, the ( Roman Catholic ) King of Bavaria was also chief bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. In practice, the lords exercised the episcopal functions but only indirectly by a competent authority, which bore the name of the Consistory in the rule.

Situation today

The present boundaries of the existing in Germany 20 Protestant churches are largely identical to those of the Federal States ( in Prussia: the provinces ) in the German Empire as it existed until 1918. For example, comprises the territory of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland that of the earlier Prussian ecclesiastical province of Rhineland, which is essentially the Prussian Rhine Province corresponded territorial, whose territory is now divided into four provinces. The territory of the state church remained virtually unchanged. The Evangelical Reformed Church ( Lutheran Church ) was formed by the merger of the Evangelical Reformed Church in North West Germany, which is primarily attributable to the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Province of Hanover, and the Evangelical Reformed Church in Bavaria. Because you joined also reformed churches from other states, it is the only country church of the Evangelical Church in Germany, which has to have not a closed area.

Major changes have occurred in the area of present-day Hesse, where in the time of National Socialism, the two competent Gauleiter in Kassel and Darmstadt, each with its own national church zulegten (now Evangelical Church of Hesse Electorate - Waldeck and Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau ). Other major changes included the states of Hamburg, Schleswig -Holstein and Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, where in 1977 the four existing national churches of Schleswig -Holstein, Eutin, Hamburg and Lübeck with the church district Harburg united in the Lutheran Church in the North Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church, which in turn 2012 merged with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg and the Pomeranian Evangelical Church Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Germany. The Evangelical Church in Berlin -Brandenburg and the Evangelical Church of Silesian Upper Lusatia joined in 2004 to form the Evangelical Church of Berlin- Brandenburg -Silesian Upper Lusatia together, as of 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia and the Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony to the Evangelical Church in Central Germany.


( to October 2013)

As an associate member of the EKD connected:

  • Federation of Evangelical Reformed Churches of Germany
  • Moravians

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg, the Evangelical Reformed Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg -Lippe are members of the Confederation of Protestant Churches in Lower Saxony.

By 2003, the Evangelical Church of the Union was a member of the EKD. This was 2003, the Union of Evangelical churches.

Offices and Institutions

The following typical offices and institutions of the state church still exists today:

  • Bishop, Bishop, Church President / speaker, President / speaker, Church President or Superintendent called, as a senior clergyman of the Church; he is virtually " successor " of the country to the Lord 1918 ( King, Grand Duke, Duke, Duke, Senate )
  • Synod as the "parliament " of the Church
  • State Council of Churches, OKR, country church office or consistory as the highest administrative authority of the Church

As an inter-governmental body, the National Churches founded the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD ), which has its headquarters in Hanover.

Administrative hierarchy

The management structure is different from country to country church Church. Often, different terms are performed for the same administrative body. To avoid confusion, the following table is to give an overview of the names of the levels of government in the churches of the EKD. In addition, in parentheses, the name of the personal line is called, because even here in the churches of the same name often different things are meant. Italics are additionally referred to any committees of the management level.

The lowest instance is comparable to the political community in general administration, the lower court with the county, the average instance with the government district and the upper body with the State.

State churches in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the relationship between church and state is governed by cantonal law. Except for the cantons of Geneva and Neuchâtel all cantons public recognized churches. These include in all cantons, the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Reformed Church, in some cantons also the Old Catholic Church. These three churches, especially Reformed, are referred to as national or cantonal churches. In the cantons of Basel-Stadt Freiburg, St. Gallen and Zurich, the Israelite communities are the churches of equals.

For historical reasons, there are essentially four forms of public recognition:

  • The historic Reformed cantons ( Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Bern, Schaffhausen, Vaud and Zurich ) know Reformed churches with the Synod's constitution, which were in close contact with the respective canton until the 20th century; However, today they are largely autonomous. In the canton of Zurich (1963 ) and in the other of said cantons today's Reformed Church Constitution largely on the Catholic Church ( " Roman Catholic corporation " ) has been transferred.
  • The historically Catholic cantons ( Appenzell Innerrhoden, Fribourg, Jura, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwyz, Solothurn, Ticino, Uri, Wallis and train ) grant the churches far reaching autonomy. Cantonal Church structures have partially emerged here only in the recent and recent past and are still missing in Appenzell- Innerrhoden. In the cantons of Obwalden and Ticino, the Evangelical Reformed Church is recognized, but there is no Reformed Cantonal Church. The reformed parish of Appenzell -Innerrhoden, for practical reasons, part of appenzeller - Ausserrhoden country church, the Reformed church communities of the Canton of Jura and Solothurn Solothurn office land - livers and Bucheggberg Water Office, for historical reasons part of the Berne Lutheran Church.
  • In the confessional parity cantons ( Aargau, Glarus, Graubünden, St. Gallen and Thurgau ) both large churches know, analog controls.
  • In the ( historically Reformed ) cantons of Neuchâtel and Geneva churches are not recognized under public law, but nevertheless " organizations of public interest ".

The current in the traditionally Reformed cantons and cantonal joint legal regulation of the basic features of the church constitution guarantees thus also in the Catholic parishes of democratic structures that are unique in the world, but are related to the Catholic canon law in conflict.

Evangelical Reformed Churches

In the cantons of Geneva and Neuchâtel, the churches are organized under private law.

Roman Catholic state churches

In the cantons of Geneva and Neuchâtel, the churches are organized under private law and in Ticino and Valais there is only the dioceses.

Church in Liechtenstein

In Liechtenstein, the Roman Catholic Church is under the Constitution, Article 37, II National Church in the sense of a state church. However, the separation of church and state is sought since 2011 and should enter into force in 2013. The territory of the state church grants since December 2, 1997 to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vaduz. Until 1997, it corresponded to the area of the deanery in the Diocese of Chur Liechtenstein.