A 25-year-old student, new chair of the German Protestant Church synod
With the appointment of Anne-Nicole Heinrich, the institution aims to send a message of “missionality and inclusion”.
BERLIN · 11 MAY 2021 · 14:02 CET
The German Evangelical Church (EKD), the mainline church uniting twenty Lutheran and Reformed denominations in the country, announced its new synodal chair.
A majority of 75 votes out of 126 supported on 8 May 2021 the candidacy of Anne-Nicole Heinrich, a 25-year-old student of philosophy from Regensburg, in the south of the country.
She will take the place of Irmgard Schwaetzer, the 79-year-old politician who was in charge of leading the German synod until now.
Heinrich becomes by far the youngest EKD official in the role. Since 2015, she had been youth representative at the general synod.
Anne-Nicole Heinrich, new chair of the EKD synod. / Photo: EKD Twitter
A call to diversity and inclusion
Raised in a non-Christian family, Anne-Nicole came in touch with the Christian faith through religion classes at school, and was later be baptised to become a member of local Protestant church.
According to news agency Idea, the new chair of the EKD said the Protestant Church has to be bold in “showing its diversity and then calling to unity”. There is a need to have “missional, bold and caring communication, both internally and externally”.
For the young chair, other priorities are helping the Church to be more “inclusive and pragmatic”.
In an interview published on the EKD official website, Heinrich adds: “Theologically I would describe myself as liberal, but also charismatic in my practice of faith”.
The main leadership of the EKD will continue to be in the hands of bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the President of the EKD Council.
A theologically liberal church with huge membership losses
Around one in four Germans are members of the historic Protestant Church, although church attendance falls to only 3%. Official figures also show a steep fall in membership in the last decade, as it is also the case of the Roman Catholic Church.
In contrast with the generally theologically conservative stances of free evangelical churches, the EKD is known for its liberal views on issues such as human sexuality or the authority of Scripture.