Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany

Selbständige Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche (SELK)

What we believe

The SELK is a confessional Lutheran Church. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are indeed the revelation and the inspired Word of God. We believe that the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as they are contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, are the true explanation of God's Word.

These Confessions are:

The three ecumenical Creeds (the Apostolic, the Nicene and the Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Small and the Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther and the Formula of Concord.

You can read a version of Dr. Luther's Small Catechism in modern German when you click here.

The Word of God contains Law and Gospel, both of which are to be clearly distinguished. The Law shows us how we are supposed to be according to God's will and that we always fail in fulfilling His will as long as we live in this world. The Gospel shows us Christ, who has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, and grants us forgiveness so that we are acceptable in God's eyes.

»For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. « (John 3:16, NIV)

Regarding the Sacrament of the Altar we confess:

»It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself. « (Dr. Martin Luther, Small Catechism, the Sacrament of the Altar)


Where we are

Congregations of the SELK can be found in most parts of Germany, from Flensburg in the North to Konstanz in the South, from Aachen in the West to Goerlitz in the East.

It is part of our history and heritage that the SELK is located more in some parts of Germany than in others. We do have about 40.000 church members in almost 200 congregations. Most of them are in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Hesse. About 140 pastors serve in the congregations.

The SELK is an independent church body. It does not recieve subsidies from the state but rather it finances itself by the offerings of its members. The SELK does have its own seminary for the education of pastors. This seminary is located in Oberursel, north of Frankfurt. The SELK also has its own mission society and a couple of institutions to care for the needy, such as hospitals or nursing homes.

The SELK is not a member of the Lutheran World Federation, because we believe that altar and pulpit fellowship equals church fellowship. Together with other confessional Lutheran church bodies, the SELK forms the International Lutheran Council, ILC.

If you want to know the location of a SELK-congregation in Germany, please contact the church's headquarters.
... or try this link: SELK Gemeindesuche


A little bit of history

Independent Confessional Lutheran Churches developed in Germany, especially in Prussia, Saxony, Hannover and Hesse in the beginning of the 19th century. The main reason for this was the forced union between Lutheran and Reformed Churches into an "evangelical" church. Mainly the ideas of the civil leaders were the reason for the enforcement of this union. These tendencies finally led to the "Evangelical Church in Germany" today, which is a union of Reformed and Lutheran Churches with full altar and pulpit fellowship. Many Lutherans rejected what they considered to be the end of Lutheranism in Germany.

The main reason for their thoughts was the conviction that there cannot be different doctrines that exclude each other in one church body. The major example is the difference in the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar between Lutheran and Reformed theology. The confessional Lutherans were persecuted at this time by the state. Many of them were not allowed to have church services or get 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 Germany formed the SELK. In 1991 the Evangelisch-Lutherische (altlutherische) Kirche [Evangelical-Lutheran (Old-Lutheran) Church] in the former GDR joined the SELK (this wasn't possible before). So nowadays almost all of the Confessional Lutheran Churches in Germany are joined together in the SELK.

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