Synod of the EKD wants Annette Kurschus as council chairwoman

All German Protestantism celebrates a remarkable ritual every six years: the election of a new EKD council. On the one hand, a celebration of internal church democracy, which would be difficult to imagine in Catholicism. Bishops have to apply in front of laypeople, and parliament is allowed to put together its new top church from a broad tableau of candidates. But the electoral process is rich in finesse and also has pitfalls. The council election in Ulm in 2009 is legendary when parliament failed applicants who had arrived in good faith late at night.

Reinhard Bingener

Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen based in Hanover.

On Tuesday, the fifteen-member council was elected digitally for the first time, which promised a certain acceleration of the process. The election was primarily about the successor to the outgoing EKD council chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who will not run again. In principle, laypeople can also be elected to the office of President of the Council. Usually, however, a leading clergyman is elected from one of the regional churches, namely the one who achieves the best result in the council election at the beginning.

There were five people with this profile to choose from: the Westphalian President Annette Kurschus, the Hamburg Bishop Kirsten Fehrs, the Berlin Bishop Christian Stäblein, the Saxon State Bishop Tobias Bilz and Church President Volker Jung from Hesse and Nassau.

The question of leadership came to a head early on

Jung had taken himself out of the race, however, by announcing in his application speech on Sunday that after his term in office in Hessen he would be leaving the council early if he should be elected there. The Saxon Bilz, on the other hand, has to struggle with the tensions in his own regional church and also has little experience at the EKD level. The same applies to the “capital city bishop” Stäblein, who also made it onto the candidate board quite late.

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