The decline in membership in the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) continues. As the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) announced on Tuesday in Hanover, around 19.1 million Germans were Protestant in 2022, which is 22.7 percent of the population. That was around 575,000 fewer people than in the previous year. This corresponded to a decline of 2.9 percent. The loss of members thus reached a new record.
According to the EKD, the main reasons for the heavy losses are church exits and deaths. This year, for the first time, the number of people leaving the church exceeded the number of deaths. 380,000 people left the church, 100,000 and thus a good 35.7 percent more than in the previous year. At 365,000, the number of deaths remained roughly at the level of the previous year.
The exit rate was 1.9 percent - also a record high compared to 2021's exit rate of 1.4 percent. Although the number of baptisms reached 165,000, the level before the corona pandemic, baptisms and admissions (19,000) could not stop the trend towards leaving. The information is based on current calculations based on the provisional figures reported from the 20 member churches of the EKD as of December 31, 2022.
The most recent development in the number of members is "depressing", not least for all those who are involved full-time and voluntarily in the Protestant church, said EKD Council Chairwoman Annette Kurschus. The high increase in exits is worrying her. The evangelical church wants to counter the high loss of members. To this end, church offerings are to be adapted, structures revised and young people won over to the faith.
“Constant change is a characteristic of the evangelical church. There are currently particularly far-reaching changes to be made,” said Kurschus. With a view to baptism, the Protestant Church wants to become even more involved in the future. "Baptism is at the heart of the Christian faith," added Kurschus. The evangelical church wants to celebrate a nationwide baptism day on June 24 for the first time.
According to a study by the Social Science Institute of the EKD from last year, the "cost-benefit analysis" plays an important role in the decision to leave the church. Some regional churches were also able to observe a connection with the increased cost of living and energy costs in the past year.
Last year, Protestant and Catholic church members were in the minority, their share of the population fell below the 50 percent mark as of December 31, 2021. Current membership figures for the 27 Catholic dioceses are not yet available. The Catholic German Bishops' Conference will publish its statistics in the summer. Not included are the many evangelical free churches.