Politics and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe: Traditions and Transitions

By William H. Swatos Jr | Go to book overview

stated that participation had remained stable but seemed to have decreased since the environmental and peace groups had vacated the church premises.

All but two of the pastors indicated that church membership had increased some, mainly through youth and adult confirmations. The baptism rates for infants had remained stable. One pastor reported that his historic parish was conducting the second of four scheduled confirmation services the following Sunday and anticipated twenty to twentyfive confirmands in each service, including some adult married couples. The three bishops were optimistic that there would be a slow increase in church membership, but they were less optimistic concerning a surge in church attendance or membership.


CONCLUSION

This chapter has explored the role of the Evangelical church of the former GDR in the recently reunified German society. We report perceptions by key clergy and church officials who had been involved in the democracy movement and reunification process. The general perspective of contingency theory was used to focus attention on the crucial importance of organizational adaptation to the environment, particularly when the environment is turbulent and hostile.

While the Evangelical church in the GDR played a significant role in the freedom and democracy movement, government and political policies seem to be the engine pulling the reintegration train in Germany. Economic problems, not the least of which is rising unemployment, seem to take precedence over other social concerns in the reunification process. The clergy and church officials interviewed recognize the need for the church to play a new role in providing various social services (many of which were previously provided by the government), but there is a lack of training, experience, and resources.

The church's role in education and moral leadership also lacks clarity. The preeminent leadership role of the Evangelical church during the democracy movement is threatened by the allegations that some church leaders had collaborated with the Ministry for State Security. In addition, there is a feeling among some of being relegated to second-class citizenship in the reunited church and fear that the measures taken in having to accommodate to a hostile state are not adequately appreciated by their church counterparts in the former FRG.

Our interviews with pastors and bishops both in 1991 and in 1992 seem to indicate that they believe that the role of the church will be more limited in the future than it was during the democracy movement. This is partially due to the weakness of religious faith in the old

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