In the first week of April people from the Presbyterian Church USA and Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) met at Columbia Seminary for a conference entitled ‚Hoping Together‘, the fourth in the series of these conferences. From the ECCB, there were representatives of congregations, of the Theological Faculty, of Diakonie, and of the Ecumenical and International Department. We were joined by guests from the Church of Scotland and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), particularly from our partners in the LaCrosse Area Synod. Continue reading Partnership Conference of Presbyterian Church USA and Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren 2019
In early April, the couple Cordula Winzer-Chamrádová and Petr Chamrád received the prestigious Brückenbauer/Bridge Builder Award in the Bavarian Schönsee, which recognises the deepening of Czech-German understanding. Continue reading The path to understanding and reconciliation. The Chamráds received the „Bridge Builders“ Award
It’s been a year since the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic authorized a new elementary school in Brno, called “Filipka”, and the school’s director with her team of co-workers managed to meet all the demanding conditions required by the state administration: negotiate an advantageous lease agreement in suitable premises and rebuild these to fulfil the needs of elementary school students and teachers. A successful media campaign was also launched to support the Filipka school. Continue reading Schools of the Evangelical Academy and Their Funding
The Social and Medical Secondary School of the Evangelical Academy in Náchod was visited by the Mayor of Náchod, the Member of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Birke, and the Director of the Regional Hospital Náchod, Ivana Urešová. Both of them came to express their interest in graduates of our school, especially graduates in the Practical Nurse field. Continue reading Support for Nursing School students in Náchod and a new classroom. The practical nurse profession has a future
When the ECCB celebrated the centenary of its foundation in its present form in 2018, the new order after the end of World War I was also recalled elsewhere. In Central and Southeastern Europe state borders changed at that time and the Protestant churches in these countries were also restructured. For the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania, this centenary provided the impetus to launch a longer-term project called Borders – Faces – Siblings, which opened in November 2018 in Bucharest. Continue reading Borders – Faces – Siblings. More than an Exhibition
The long tradition of Days for Cuba, organised by the Human Rights Committee of the ECCB’s Synod, has found its enhanced continuation in a new event called „Let the Humiliated Speak“. In addition to Latin America, the event also focuses on other parts of the world where people are facing oppression because of their religion or beliefs. Continue reading Let the Humiliated Speak
- Population: 10,580,000
- Roman Catholics: approx. 20%
- Other churches, mostly Protestant: approx. 2%
- Other denominations, total: under 2%
- (In the most recent census, the category of religion was left unanswered by almost half of the population, thus the above figures are only estimates)
General statistics for the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB):
- Total number of churches: 250
- Total members based on church files: 71,000
- Members who make a financial contribution at least once a year: 21,000 – 25,000
- Average participation in Sunday services all over the ECCB’s churches: 10,100
- Average participation in Sunday service in one church: 40
Strategic Plan for 2030
This plan was adopted at the ECCB’s Synod in May 2019, following three years of preparation. It is the first document of its kind produced by the ECCB.
The main reasons for its preparation, discussion and ratification:
1. Part of the ECCB has shown dissatisfaction with some of the aspects of its church life
Many of the ECCB’s congregations are thriving and open, organising many activities in the fields of Sunday services, catechesis, small group meetings, ministry, Diaconia (both in its volunteering and institutional form), mission…
However, the increase in the number of the members of these congregations (predominantly in cities and larger towns) is still lower than the decrease of members in other churches (mostly village congregations).
This is happening at a time when Czech society is showing significant interest in various forms of spirituality, often alternative, esoteric, neo-pagan or eclectic. We are not able to respond with God’s Word to this spiritual thirst in a satisfactory way.
2. Financial Departure from the State
The ECCB is currently facing a specific economic situation. Until 2012, approximately half of its budget came from state contributions – a relic of the communist era. Right from the beginning, around 1950, the totalitarian state confiscated the vast majority of any church-owned (mostly Catholic) property. “In return”, the communists were paying part of the churches’ expenditures, which meant primarily the salaries of the clergymen. The salaries were very low, of course.
The new act on the relation between the state and the churches has been effective since 2013. The state has committed to give back the returnable church property stolen by the communists as quickly as possible, naturally most of it was returned to the Catholic church. The assets which were no longer possible to return are being gradually repaid to the churches in financial form, in 30 instalments during the period from 2013 to 2042. The Roman Catholic church has surrendered part of these funds to the benefit of the other small churches. Only thanks to this generous decision did the solution (ongoing restitutions and the financial departure of churches from the state at the same time) find enough ecumenical and political support. The state is now repaying the stolen church property, and at the same time gradually lowering its contributions to churches, which primarily concerns pastors’ salaries.
For the time being, therefore, the ECCB has more funds. It is clear, however, that from 2030, it will be receiving less money, and it will receive none whatsoever from 2042. This makes any long-term planning of church life and service very complicated: is it wiser to switch to the new self-financing model faster, which would mean gaining larger investment reserves for full self-financing in the future, but also losing the independence of the ECCB’s smaller churches, as well as the jobs of their pastors? Or should our transformation into a self-financed church take place more slowly, which would enable the smaller churches to keep their pastor jobs longer, but would only leave us with the funds collected from the church members’ regular contributions?
Main Topics of the Strategic Plan
In this critical situation, the Strategic Plan brings forward seven main topics. Each category includes specific aims and tasks:
- A living congregation
- Religiousness = caring for your faith
- Comprehensibility and openness in mission
- Key people
- Transformation to the self-financing model
- Diaconia, chaplains and the Evangelical Academy
- Efficient administration and financial management
1: A living congregation
In the Protestant view, a local congregation is of crucial importance to the Christian faith. Its basic responsibilities and functions are as follows (loosely based on Acts 2:41–47): worshipping God through (Sunday) services, teaching (catechesis), existing as a community of faith, serving others through Diaconia, and giving testimony. Item 1 of the Plan suggests actions that our 250 churches could take to improve church life and service. This part shares some ideas that have proven successful, and also strengthens the authority of ministers and presbyters in building their congregations.
4: Key people
This topic deals with the people that are of key importance to each congregation: presbyters, auxiliary preachers and ministers. Each Presbytery (Seniorát), as well as the whole church, should support auxiliary preachers, whose numbers have been increasing, more intensively and on a long-term basis.
As far as ministers are concerned, we are planning the following:
– more communication with active Protestant youth on the beauty and purposefulness of working as a minister, with the aim of increasing the number of students preparing to be ministers;
– discussions with representatives of the Protestant Theological Faculty of the Charles University concerning the possibility of modifying the study programmes taken by future ministers, so as to make sure these are in line with the practice and the actual needs of the church;
– increase minister salaries to the level of the average pay in the Czech Rep. and make them more transparent and comprehensible
5, 6: Seniorate and church levels
Item 5 of the Strategic Plan describes the basic tasks necessary for the ECCB’s transformation to the self-financing model: informing church leaders on various sources of funds, stipulating reasonable rules for various possibilities of job arrangements for ministers. Item 6 deals with the ECCB’s further cooperation with 34 Diaconia centres, seven Protestant schools and institutions to which we send chaplains (prisons, hospitals, the army).
What do we expect from the Strategic Plan?
The Strategic Plan is a new tool for the management and administration of the ECCB. It is not, in itself, a solution to all the current issues our church is dealing with, but it can provide some helpful guidelines for the work of the church’s broader management and for supporting church life. The following years will show whether or not it has proved to be a successful tool that will be used on a regular basis.
Roman Mazur, Chairman of the Strategic Committee
On Monday, 8th of April, the building of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren symbolically dressed up, when it was decorated with two Romany flags to mark International Roma Day. Roma flags hung in the city centre for the whole day. In their symbolic display, the pastor for humanitarian activities, minorities and socially excluded people, Mikuláš Vymětal, prayed the Lord’s prayer in Roma. Continue reading Flags at the Hus House in Prague marked the International Roma Day
This year, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) is commemorating the 100th anniversary since its founding through the union of the Reformed and Lutheran churches in the Czech lands. The ECCB took over the teachings of both of these traditions, and also proudly acknowledged the Czech Reformation of the 15th century, as well as the “old Union of the Brethren”, as the foundations on which it builds. We are grateful that the ECCB has been the herald of joyous Biblical news of God’s kingdom which is for this world and which gives us hope that transcends our lives. We are grateful that as Protestants, we have been able to contribute significantly to spreading the Gospel in a comprehensible way, for example through our work on the new Czech ecumenical translation of the Bible, among other things. Continue reading We Confess and We Are Grateful. Declaration of the Synodal Council at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren
We are happy and grateful for the year of celebrations that we could experience together. All the meetings, worship, film screenings and discussions in the Vaclav Havel Library, numerous publications, concerts, interviews, prayers… All culminated in a four-day festival in Pardubice, where church representatives from all over the country met. At the end of the year, we would like to thank to all those who have responded to the call to become the parish ministers and curators of the church. This happened symbolically on December 16th at the Municipal House in Prague, a place where one hundred years ago the General Assembly decided to join Czech parishes of two evangelical churches (Lutheran and Reformed) into one single Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. Continue reading The festive gathering in the Municipal House in Prague concluded the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the existence of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren