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  – 24.02.2006

[Austria] Cross-Border Church Services now Validated Legally

Lutheran Church Boards of Bavaria and Austria Sign Agreements

Vienna, February 22nd, 2006 (epd Ö) – On Wednesday, February 15th, the management bodies of the Lutheran Churches in Bavaria and Austria have signed agreements, which regulate cross-border church services and validate them legally. “I’m very happy, that our churches have established this legal basis for reciprocal representations”, Church Official Dr. Hannelore Reiner said to the epd Ö. These new agreements were particularly important to the in the parishes close to the border between Bavaria and Austria, says the church official responsible for the personnel department.
In the “Agreement on Reciprocal Representations” of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria and the Evangelical Church A.C. in Austria, it is stated, that pastors “who fulfil the requirements for ministry in the respective other Church are authorised for stand-in services in parishes of the other Church” amongst other things. In addition, both Churches declare the “equal footing” of training and appointment of church co-workers to the office of accredited lay preacher. As another sign for “neighbourly cooperation and responsibility”, the agreement bespeaks the “explicit willingness to appoint qualified co-workers to other offices correspondingly to the respective other Church.”
The “Agreement on the Acquisition of Church Membership in Special Cases” regulates the acquisition of church membership of church members, who are connected to other churches due to “special church relations”. If a church member quit his parish due to a change of residence for instance, he/she can now continue his membership in the previous church – provided that the location of his residence allows it.
The deputy legal church official, Hon.-Prof. Dr. Raoul Kneucker, emphasised that the signing of both documents was a matter of “innovation in church law”. In addition, the signing was evidence that international relations belong to the “normal sector”.

Good and Meaningful Experiences

“We gather good and meaningful experiences - for our own churches as well,” emphasised the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Dr. Johannes Friedrich, who signed the agreements together with Bishop M.A. Herwig Sturm. Both agreements become effective after the adoption through the synods of the respective churches. The documents are being published in the church gazettes beforehand. Next to informal talks in the respective functional departments, like archive studies, discussions about the “Community of Protestant Churches in Europe” (CPCE) and a talk on “Bio-Ethics” by Prof. Ulrich Körtner were on the agenda of the two-day visit of the Bavarian church board in Vienna.



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