Over 380,000 left the Protestant Church of Germany in 2022

The mainline EKD loses 2.9% of its membership in only one year. For the first time, the figure exceeds the number of deaths of members.

Evangelical Focus

BERLIN · 08 MARCH 2023 · 16:51 CET

Anne-Nicole Heinrich, chair of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) general synod. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ekd.de/index.htm">EKD, Franziska Kestel</a>.,
Anne-Nicole Heinrich, chair of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) general synod. / Photo: EKD, Franziska Kestel.

The latest figures of membership of the mainline Protestant Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (Evangelical Church of Germany, EKD) confirm its decline.

The loss of membership of recent years only accelerated in 2022, with 380,000 leaving the EKD - an increase of 35.7% compared to 2021.

It is the first time the number of EKD members who died throughout the year (365,000) is surpassed by those who actively leave the Church.

The positive aspect of the statistics is that the number of baptisms (largely infant baptisms) grew to 165,000 in 2022, an increase of over one third compared to year before, returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The final count shows that the EKD lost 575,000 people in 2022, a 2.9% of its membership.

The EKD has now 19.1 million members, around 23% of the German population. In 2007, the Church had 24.8 million members.

The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has a larger membership, despite also experiencing a profound crisis. Five years ago, the two largest institutional churches still represented over half of the German population.


Changes in leadership to halt the decline

As in all previous years, the leadership of the EKD lamented the negative figures and said it would work harder to change the trend. The head of the German Protestant Church, Annette Kurschuss, defended the role of the mainline church: “Without pastoral care and the diakonie, and without the worship and congregational offers in the approximately 20,000 churches and chapels, the social climate would be different”.

Kurschuss was elected in 2021, when the membership crisis was already an alarming reality for the EKD. Some months earlier, another woman, the 25-year-old theology student Anne-Nicole Heinrich was elected as chair of the Church’s synod.


A liberal theology

In contrast with the free evangelical churches (including Baptists, Pentecostals, charismatics, Brethren and others), the teaching in most EKD churches and seminars is theologically liberal. The church attendance among EKD members is also much lower than among free evangelical Christians.

According to a survey in 2019, 33% of the Church’s members “did not believe in God”.  A Pew Research survey also found that more self-identified Protestants in Germany believe in astrology (33%) and reincarnation (24%) than those who pray daily (9%).

Published in: Evangelical Focus - europe - Over 380,000 left the Protestant Church of Germany in 2022

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