Biserica Evanghelică de Confesiune Augustană din România
The Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession (A.C.) in Romania is a Lutheran Church, which has its origins in the middle of the sixteenth century, when Lutheranism spread among the Transylvanian Saxons. Johannes Honterus (1498–1549), a humanist and theologian from Braşov (Kronstadt), played the key role in promoting Martin Luther’s teachings in Transylvania and in organising the new Protestant denomination. In 1572, the synod of Mediaş (Mediasch) decided that the doctrine of the Lutheran Church of the Transylvanian Saxons would be the so-called Augsburg Confession,or Confessio Augustana in Latin. After Transylvania became a part of the Habsburg Empire at the end of the seventeenth century, the Protestant denominations in the region had to face a state-supported Counter-Reformation. After the establishment of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867, Transylvania became a province under Hungarian administration. In this context, the Evangelical Church of the Transylvanian Saxons increased its cultural and political role to the point of becoming the main supporter of the schooling system in the German language and a key institution in preserving the Saxons’ collective identity. This significant position within the Transylvanian Saxon community was preserved up to the twentieth century.
The Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania is organised according to an organic statute of 1861, which stipulates that the organisation has three levels: the local parish churches, the district churches, and the national church. The ruling structures of the Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania are the Church General Assembly and the High Consistory. In 2016, the Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania had fifty-seven parish churches, with forty-two pastors.
During the twentieth century, the Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania suffered the abuses and interferences of both fascism and communism. The former exercised direct political pressure through the Nazi-controlled leadership of the German Ethnic Group in Romania, which was especially harsh between 1940 and 1944. The Romanian communist regime took several repressive measures against the Evangelical Church A.C., such as the arrest of those pastors considered to be “political enemies,” the nationalisation of confessional schools and other subordinated institutions or valuable assets, including museums and archival collections, and an interdiction on teaching religious classes to young people preparing for confirmation.
As far as the archival heritage of the Evangelical Church A.C. is concerned, all collections with great historical value were nationalised by the communist authorities and included in the State Archives in 1948. During the late 1940s and 1950s, members of this religious community tried to hide many precious documents, which thus escaped nationalisation. Following a law of 1957, the Evangelical Church A.C. was able to create in 1958 the Archives of the Honterus Parish Community, which included the most valuable archival collections of the local parish churches. However, following Decree no. 472/1971, the church was forced again to cede a part of its archival heritage to the State Archives. The fall of the communist regime in Romania allowed the Evangelical Church A.C. to regain the right to perform some of its traditional cultural roles in the Transylvanian Saxon community. Consequently, the archives of the High Consistory of the Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania were made accessible to the general public in 2004, through the opening of Teutsch House in Sibiu, and the Archives of the Honterus Parish Community, also known as the Black Church Archives and Library, reopened in 2005 in Brașov. These two institutions are nowadays not only significant repositories of valuable archival heritage, but also the most active cultural institution of the Transylvanian Saxons, which regularly organise under their institutional tutelage events such as exhibitions, conferences, book launches, etc.
- Pintilescu, Corneliu
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Klein, Christoph. 2013. Über Bitten und Verstehen. Zwanzig Jahre im Bischofsamt der Evangelischen Kirche Augsburger Bekentnisses in Rumänien. 1990-2010. Bonn–Hermannstadt: Schiller Verlag.
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Secretariatul de Stat pentru Culte. 2016. “Biserica Evanghelică C.A. din România” (The Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania). Accessed November 26, 2016. http://www.culte.gov.ro/biserica-evanghelica
Biserica Evanghelică C.A. din România. 2016. “Scurt istoric” (A short history). Accessed November 26, 2016. http://www.evang.ro/ro/scurt-istoric/
Biserica Evanghelică C.A. din România. 2016. “Structura” (Organisation). Accessed November 26, 2016. http://www.evang.ro/ro/structura/