The leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (ELCG) and representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of the mystery of baptism.


According to this document, from now on it will be impossible to baptize again Christians transferring from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy and vice versa. The agreement was signed for the Orthodox side by Metropolitan Augustine of Germany and by the head of the Department of External Relations of the ELCG, Bishop Rolf Hoppe.
At the time of the consultations prior to the signing Metropolitan Augustine reminded us that in the German Orthodox churches of the Ecumenical Patriarchate it has been many years since they rebaptized those converting from Lutheranism. Doctor Dagmar Heller, the head of the Commission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany for Ecumenical Relations with the Orthodox, declared: The basic effect of the signing of this document is the overcoming of prejudice and of mutual misunderstanding.



Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany and the Ecumenical Patriarchate began their discussions in 1969. These consultationswere in the beginning, in part, aimed at the integration of Greek migrantsinto German society. In the 60s and 70s a significant number of Greeks arrived in the major German industrial centres in search of work.



Today the Orthodox church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has 400,000 people in Germany. This means that this religious community is the third in numbers after the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church.



In this current year the World Council of Churches has conducted a Conference at which the possibility of the mutual recognition of the baptism of member Churches was considered. A similar agreement has been signed by a number of Australian denominations earlier this year. In 2003 the then General Secretary of the WCC Doctor Konrad Raiser stated that, if the Churches recognize the baptisms performed by each other, this will be as much a “revolution” for the ecumenical movement as Copernicus’ discoveries were for science.