Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
The Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church is a confessional
Confessional Lutheran
Confessional Lutheran is a name used by certain Lutheran Christians to designate themselves as those who accept the doctrines taught in the Book of Concord of 1580 in their entirety, because they believe them to be completely faithful to the teachings of the Bible...

 Lutheran church body of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It is a member of the European Lutheran Conference and a member of the International Lutheran Council
International Lutheran Council
The International Lutheran Council is a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran denominations. It is to be distinguished from the larger Lutheran World Federation, which is an association of the more theologically moderate to liberal Lutheran churches, all of which are in full communion with...

 (ILC) (of which the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in the United States. With 2.3 million members, it is both the eighth largest Protestant denomination and the second-largest Lutheran body in the U.S. after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Synod...

 of North America is also a member). The SELK synod has about 36,000 members in 200 congregations. The seat of SELK is in Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...



In 1817, King Frederick William III
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel .-Early life:...

 of Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 ordered the Lutheran and Reformed churches in his territory to unite, forming the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union
Prussian Union (Evangelical Christian Church)
The Prussian Union was the merger of the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Prussia, by a series of decrees – among them the Unionsurkunde – by King Frederick William III...

, a predecessor to today's Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

. As the uniting of Lutheran and Reformed Christians in Germany proceeded, some Lutheran groups dissented and formed independent churches, especially in Prussia, Saxony, Hannover and Hesse. These Lutherans held that Reformed doctrine and Lutheran doctrine are contradictory on many points (especially on the nature of the Real Presence
Real Presence
Real Presence is a term used in various Christian traditions to express belief that in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is really present in what was previously just bread and wine, and not merely present in symbol, a figure of speech , or by his power .Not all Christian traditions accept this dogma...

 of Christ in the Lord's Supper
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

), and that such doctrinal differences precluded altar fellowship.

The confessional Lutherans were persecuted during the 19th century by the state. Many of them were not allowed to hold church services or have their children baptized or confirmed according to the liturgy of the Lutheran Church. In some areas of Germany, it took decades until the Confessional Lutherans were granted religious freedom.

In 1972 most of the Confessional Lutheran Church bodies in West Germany united to form the SELK. In 1991 the East German Evangelisch-Lutherische (altlutherische) Kirche (the Evangelical-Lutheran (Old-Lutheran) Church) joined the SELK.


The SELK bases its teaching on the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, which it confesses to be God's inerrant and infallible Word. The specific doctrines taught in the SELK are contained the Book of Concord
Book of Concord
The Book of Concord or Concordia is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century...

, to which SELK pastors profess a "quia" subscription, meaning that they subscribe to them, "quia" (because) they correspond to the Bible. These Confessions are:
  • The Apostles Creed
  • The Nicene Creed
    Nicene Creed
    The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

  • The Athanasian Creed
    Athanasian Creed
    The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

  • The Augsburg Confession
    Augsburg Confession
    The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

  • The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
    Apology of the Augsburg Confession
    The Apology of the Augsburg Confession was written by Philipp Melanchthon during and after the 1530 Diet of Augsburg as a response to the Pontifical Confutation of the Augsburg Confession, Charles V's commissioned official Roman Catholic response to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession of June 25, 1530...

  • The Smalcald Articles
    Smalcald Articles
    The Smalcald Articles or Schmalkald Articles are a summary of Lutheran doctrine, written by Martin Luther in 1537 for a meeting of the Schmalkaldic League in preparation for an intended ecumenical Council of the Church.-History:...

  • The Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther
  • The Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther
  • The Formula of Concord
    Formula of Concord
    Formula of Concord is an authoritative Lutheran statement of faith that, in its two parts , makes up the final section of the Lutheran Corpus Doctrinae or Body of Doctrine, known as...

The SELK has declined to join the Lutheran World Federation
Lutheran World Federation
The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of national and regional Lutheran churches headquartered in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The federation was founded in the Swedish city of Lund in the aftermath of the Second World War in 1947 to coordinate the activities of the...

, preferring to view that body as being theologically too liberal. Nevertheless Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (Germany)
Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (Germany)
The Evangelical Lutheran Free Church is a small confessional Lutheran denomination based in Germany and western Austria. It currently consists of 1,470 members in 15 congregations, primarily located in former East Germany...

, formerly in communion with the SELK, suspended relations in 1987 over perceived doctrinal laxity within SELK.

The SELK does not ordain women as pastors, and is strictly against the blessing of gay couples. This is in contrast to the German mainline Protestant churches, which do ordain women to ministry and allow the blessing of gay couples. The liberal mainline Protestant churches (about 25 million members) are organized in the Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

 (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, EKD).

Church Structure

The bishop of the SELK is elected by the synod. The current bishop ist Hans-Jörg Voigt. The main office of the SELK is in Hannover, and is managed by the executive dean Michael Schätzel. The SELK is divided in four main districts, with a provost heading each one. These four districts are divided again in sub-districts, each in turn led by a superintendent
Superintendent (ecclesiastical)
Superintendent is the head of an administrative division of a Protestant church, largely historical but still in use in Germany.- Superintendents in Sweden :...

  • Main district North: Provost Johannes Rehr
    • divided in districts: Lower Saxony West, Lower Saxony East, Lower Saxony South.
  • Main district East: Provost Gert Kelter
    • divided in districts: Berlin-Brandenburg, Saxony-Thuringia, Lausitz
  • Main district West: Provost Carsten Voss
    • divided in districts: Westphalia, Rhineland
  • Main district South: Provost Klaus-Peter Czwikla
    • divided in districts: Hesse North, Hesse South, South Germany

Bishops since 1972

  • 1972 - 1985: Most Reverent Bishop Dr. theol. Gerhard Rost, LL.D.
  • 1985 - 1997: Most Reverent Bishop Dr. theol. Jobst Schöne, D.D.
  • 1997 - 2006: Most Reverent Bishop Dr. theol. Diethardt Roth
  • since 2006: Most Reverent Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt


The mission outreach of SELK is led by its mission society in Bleckmar in Lower Saxony near Celle, called Lutherische Kirchenmission (Bleckmarer Mission) e. V. They missionaries and projects in South-Africa, Botswana, Germany and Brasila.


The theological seminary is in Oberursel, near Frankurt/Main. All SELK pastors have to make a part of their studies there. The professors are pastors of SELK. The seminary is accepted by the German state.

Other church institutions

For different aspects of church life SELK has a lot of other institutions like an institution for youth, church music, worship service for children, liturgy commission, commission for church education and lot of more.


Full communion and fellowship has SELK with those confessional Lutheran churches, which have the same teaching and Lutheran doctrine, for example:
  1. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  2. Lutheran Church - Canada
    Lutheran Church - Canada
    The Lutheran Church–Canada is a traditional, confessional Lutheran denomination in Canada. With about 70,000 members, it is the second-largest Lutheran body in Canada after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada . The LCC was founded in 1988 when most Canadian congregations of the St...

  3. Free Evangelical-Lutheran Church in South Africa
  4. Evangelical Lutheran Church of England
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of England
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England is a confessional Lutheran synod in the United Kingdom. It has congregations in England, Wales and Scotland....


With same Lutheran churches in Eastern Europe SELK has a contract about partnership relations:
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia is a Lutheran Protestant church in Latvia. Latvia's Lutheran heritage dates back to the Reformation. Both the Nazi and communist regimes persecuted the church harshly before religious freedom returned to Latvia in 1988.The Church is governed by a...

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania is a Lutheran church body comprising congregations in Lithuania. The ELCL is a member of the Porvoo Communion and the Lutheran World Federation....

External links

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