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Protestants pick first woman to lead church

DDP/DPA/The Local · 28 Oct 2009, 10:51

Published: 28 Oct 2009 10:51 GMT+01:00

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The 51-year-old succeeds Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who is retiring.

“With trust in God’s help I accept the vote,” she said.

Following the vote in Ulm, Käßmann, who has been at the helm of Germany’s largest regional church for more than 10 years, will lead all of Germany’s 25 million Protestants for the next six years.

Käßmann has proposed a radical course of reform for the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD), which suffers from shrinking congregations and revenues. In addition to streamlining the clergy, she plans to increase the church’s profile and improve strained relations with the Catholic Church.

The new leader will also have to reposition itself with Chancellor Merkel’s new centre-right government. The EKD has a tradition of lobbying for social and economic equality.

Käßmann is known as an outspoken, tolerant and humorous leader, having once said: “Crabby Christians are a contradiction in themselves.”

In 2006 the mother of four was diagnosed with breast cancer, but has since recovered.

Story continues below…

She also divorced her husband of 26 years in 2007, a decision that sparked initial reactions varying from “open criticism to the point of malice, contempt and hatred,” as she described it in a memoir published last September.

The EKD was founded in 1945 as a multi-denominational federation of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Protestant church bodies. After Germany’s reunification, the EKD combined both East and West German Protestant churches in 1991.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:14 October 28, 2009 by maxbrando
Are you kidding me?? A divorced female leading the Lutherans in Germany??? This is a sure recipe for its decline and disappearance. And how will it strengthen the relationship with the Catholic Church?? Cut me a break. How will she increase membership? By offering a buy one, get one free policy, or by giving out team jerseys at the front door? Bye bye Lutherans.
03:33 October 29, 2009 by thvcks

At least they won't have to put up with you.
12:23 October 29, 2009 by lordkorner
Wow, the old E.K.D should think about producing a calendar for Christmas...
17:20 October 30, 2009 by mixxim
simple, get a dolly bird to spout nonsense from the pulpit. Some will be attracted to the show and others might go Catholic. We all know that God has been wrong all these years on divorce, abortion, gays and women priests. Now maybe god will learn from liberated human beings?
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