Detached from the national church?

Detached from the national church?

Wooden cross on an old book © alexkich (shutterstock)

The Protestant congregation of the Bremen pastor Olaf Latzel, who has been provisionally deprived of his ministry, is preparing for a separation from the Bremen Protestant Church. The latter is keeping a low profile for now.

The congregation's convention had instructed its executive committee to make all necessary preparations to be able to pass a resolution to that effect in a special meeting, according to a resolution paper available on the congregation's website. The Bremen "Weser-Kurier" first reported on the step taken by the congregation. A statement from the Bremen Evangelical Church was not available on Thursday.

Appeal filed

Latzel served as pastor of the St.-Martini congregation in downtown Bremen in November last year before the district court of the Hanseatic city for incitement to hatred sentenced to a fine (Az: 96 Ds 225 Js 26577/20). The verdict is not yet final, because Latzel has appealed. Pending a final decision, the church leadership provisionally removed him from ministry; church disciplinary proceedings initiated months earlier are suspended.

According to the local court, the theologian had incited hatred against homosexuals in a so-called "marriage seminar" in October 2019. In the course of the seminar, he warned, among other things, that homosexuality is a "degenerative form of society" and "There are criminals from Christopher Street Day running around everywhere".

In the resolution, the convention backed the Rev. Latzel had in the view of the Convention in "his statements on practiced homosexuality at the marriage seminary in no way violated the duties arising from his ordination". With his teaching, the pastor had rather fulfilled his obligations to the church order. The convention instructed the parish council to exhaust all legal possibilities to achieve the full reinstatement of the pastor.

Pastor to be hired by congregation itself

The provisional removal from office was "unlawful" because the decision of the church leadership had been made without the consent of the congregation. The convention expressly confirmed Latzel's appointment as pastor of the congregation. In the event that the church leadership should not reinstate him, the convention passed a resolution to hire the pastor through the congregation itself.

After Bremen church catches on, congregation can declare "resting of rights and duties" to the church as a whole. The congregation would no longer be represented in the synod, which is called Kirchentag in Bremen. Moreover, it would be detached from the institutions and orders of the Bremen Protestant Church.

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