The Meissen Agreement

Relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany - the Meissen Agreement




With joy I write these few words in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as we celebrate 25 years of the signing of the Meissen Agreement in 1991.

Since the call of Archbishop Robert Runcie in 1983 for reconciliation between the German churches and the Church of England, substantial progress has been made to strengthen relationships between our two churches. Let me briefly recall: Archbishop Runcie's visit in the year that commemorated the five hundredth birthday of Martin Luther was to the separated churches of East and West Germany. On the day set aside to mourn the destruction caused in Dresden by the Allied Forces, Archbishop Runcie also called to memory the destruction by the German Luftwaffe to the city of Coventry. All the more was he moved by the friendship, hospitality as well as the yearning for peace in the hearts and minds of the German people. On his return to England he initiated official discussions between our churches on a journey towards reconciliation and mutual recognition. The intense and hope filled exchange that followed finally led to the signing of the Meissen Agreement between the Church of England and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland in 1991. One of the goals of Meissen is the full visible unity between our churches. This goal has allowed the development of significant relationships between our two churches at every level and remains a model for other ecumenical agreements. The remembrance of that initiative which led to the signing of the Agreement is an important reminder that the churches are at times called to set the agenda and take the lead in matters of unity and reconciliation.


Over the years parishes and dioceses have created vibrant partnerships, and exchanges between them have proved fruitful. Our churches and individuals have learned to look at their faith and the life of their parish through different eyes. What is currently being experienced between our churches is a programme which could be called 'Mission Interchange'. Our churches have therefore come a long way, and I am grateful to God for his continuing mercies on this journey.


It is recognised that the Meissen Commission has produced some significant theological work in the past. It has focussed on the missionary dimension of ecclesiology with the goal of finding common approaches for Christian witness in Europe's process of transformation. It's most recent theological conference on the theme Reformation Then and Now - Anglican and Protestant Perspectives is to be published soon, and I am indeed grateful for this valuable resource as a Meissen launch into the Reformation commemoration year 2017. It is a valuable resource, reflecting on how our memory of the past can positively influence and creatively shape the future.


As I have mentioned before, the agenda of this ecumenical relationship would fall short of meeting the challenges of our day if its concerns remain limited to the status of our churches in relation to each other. And I know that in the work of the Meissen Commission, and especially its theological reflections this has not been the case. Today, in the face of severe crises in our world, causing dire suffering to untold human lives, we need to seek, more than ever, a common voice and an agreed strategy of action. First and foremost we are confronted with the plight of huge numbers of refugees fleeing regions of conflict, repression and dire economic privation. The contribution of the German Church and society in this connection has and continues to be one of great compassion, service and witness. It does not leave us unmoved and has been an inspiration to many of us in the work for peace and reconciliation between peoples and nations.


As we celebrate 25 years of Meissen and plan the 500th anniversary of the Reformation I pray that we continue in our efforts to build a confident church in a pluralistic and troubled Europe across all barriers. I thank all those who have contributed to the development and success of the relationship between our two churches. In particular I thank the two Co-Secretaries, the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel and OKR Revd Christoph Ernst for their tireless work.


I wish the Meissen Commission and its Co-Chairs, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds and Landesbischof Ralf Meister every success as they continue to lead the Commission.


May the presence and the love of Christ be with you all, and may His Spirit guide you.


The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury


This statement appears on the Archbishop of Canterbury's website at


 The Commission's agenda for its 24th meeting had the theme Reformation and Politics and included a visit to the offices of the EKD Representative to the Bundestag and the European Union. The Commission also considered what contribution Meissen could make to the Reformation Jubilee in 2017.  To read more details click here.


The Eighth Meissen Theological Conference was held in Arnoldshain on 11 - 14 February 2014 under the title "Ecclesial Communion in the Service of Reconciliation" . The Conference was co-chaired by the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Prof Dr Friederike  Nüssel from Heidelberg University.

For a short introduction to the Conference click here

Conference papers are now available in one complete document in both languages. To open the combined document click here

The papers from the Conference can still be accessed from this page separately in English or German language versions. Please scroll down for details.

Onward Christian Soldiers in the Twenty-first Century: a Cross-Cultural View by the Revd Dr Carolyn Hammond, Dean Gonville and Caius College Cambridge

To read this paper click here

German language version: Voran, christliche Soldaten" im 21.Jahrhundert: aus kulturübergreifender Sicht

To read this paper click here

Faith and Patriotism: Some "Snapshots" and Reflections on 1914 and Beyond by the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, President of the Conference of European Churches

To read this paper click here

German language version: Glaube und Patriotismus: Einige "Momentaufnahmen" und Gedanken zu 1914 und der Zeit danach

To read this paper click here

Reflection and Reconciliation - Image and Likeness in Some Texts and Liturgy, the Venerable Jane Steen, Archdeacon of  Southwark

To read this paper click here

German language version: Spiegelbilder, Reflexionen und Versöhnung - Bild und Ebenbild in manchen Texten und Liturgien

 To read this paper click here

Seeing and Being Seen: Pastoral, Parochial and Academic Reflections on Ecclesial Communion and Reconciliation  by the Revd Peter Anthony, priest-in-charge Kentish Town, London

To read this paper click here

German language version: Sehen und gesehen werden

To read this paper click here

 Perspectives on Religion and Reconciliation: the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

To read this paper click here

German language version: Perspektiven zu Religion und Versöhnung

To read this paper click here

Ecclesial Communion, Ecclesiastical Polity and Reconciled Diversity in Richard

Hooker's Theology by the Revd Dr Stephen J Plant, Dean Trinity Hall Cambridge

 To read this paper click here

German language version: Kirchengemeinschaft, Kirchenverfassung und versöhnte Vielfalt in der Theologie von Richard Hooker

 To read this paper click here 

The Meissen Information Pack

The Pack includes history, agreement texts, details of Anglo-German ecumenical links, liturgical resources and stories from the first decade of Meissen.

To study the Meissen Information Pack 2005 edition click here

The Meissen Common Statement / Die Meissener Gemeinsame Erklärung - 1988

English Text (rich text format)
German Text

The Implementation by the Church of England and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland of the steps agreed in the Meissen Declaration

English Text
German Text

The Meissen Prayer Letter - Latest Edition

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) - GERMAN site

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) - ENGLISH site

General Organisation
Member Churches
News and Topical Issues
Press Releases from the EKD Bulletin
Ecumenical Dialogue - articles on Church and Society
Interactive - including Reformation quizzes