No. 83.
Mr. Davis to Mr. Fish.

No. 394.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 358, I have the honor to inclose a further report from Mr. Coleman respecting the legislation for the government of the Lutheran Church in this country. I beg to commend to your attention the zealous and thorough manner in which Mr. Coleman has worked up his instructions on this subject. At the time when he was requested to prepare these reports the church question had a prominence which it subsequently lost, owing to the presentation of laws more widely affecting imperial interests.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

J. C. BANCROFT DAVIS.
[Inclosure.]

Sir: I have the honor, referring to my report of the 28th of April last upon a proposed law concerning the Evangelical Church constitution, to now submit a supplementary report thereon, together with a number of newspaper comments and reports of proceedings, accompanied by summaries of, and extracts from, them in translation.

In the former report above referred to the changes suggested by the commission of the House of Deputies to the bill, as submitted by the government, were pointed out and an effort made to explain their significance and importance.

The bill as reported back to the house by its committee was, after a few slight changes had been made, approved and transmitted to the House of Peers for its action.

The amendments to the bill by this house were unimportant, and there seemed to be no issue raised between the two houses which involved a question of principle. As these amendments affect only articles of the bill which were commented upon at length in the former report, I shall not discuss them here, but confine myself to pointing them out in an accompaniment hereto.

Returned from the House of Peers with these slight alterations, the bill has been approved by the House of Deputies, and now awaits but the signature of the King, which will not be withheld, to become a law, and substantially realize the object of the government in submitting it.

The full text of the bill as now passed by the two houses is also appended.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHAPMAN COLEMAN,
Second Secretary of Legation.

Hon. J. C. B. Davis,
Envoy Extraordinary, &c.

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[Inclosure 1 in inclosure in No. 394.—Translation.]

church bill.

Amendments by the House of Peers to church bill, as reported back by the House of Deputies by its commission.

  • Article 8.—Under letter a, of figure 2, the qualification is stricken out: “In so far as the church treasuries of the communities are not able to meet the deficiency.” Under the second subdivision of letter b, the words “of the state ministry” are substituted for “by state law.” The concluding subdivision under this letter, forbidding the borrowing of money, is stricken out.
  • Article 9 (designated by commission 8 a) is amended so as to read: “In other places, which comprise several parishes not united under a common pastoral office, the purposes declared in the foregoing article can, upon the motion of all, or of the majority of the parishes, be declared by the consistory as being general affairs in the sense of article 4 of the law of May 25, 1874. Should, however, the representation of a single parish object, this can only take place with the approval of the provincial synod.”
  • Article 13 (12 of the house commission) restores the article as submitted by the government, and as heretofore enclosed with the minister’s No. 291.
  • Article 21 a, of the house commission, giving the state authorities the sole control over appointments to the professorships of the universities of the country, is stricken out.
[Inclosure 2 in inclosure in No. 394.—Translation.]

Evangelical church bill.

A law proposed for the organization of the church (Evangelical) in the eight older provinces of the monarchy.

We, William, by the grace of God King of Prussia, &c., ordain, with the concurrence of both houses of the Landtag of the monarchy, for the provinces of Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, Saxony, Westphalia, and for the Rhenish province, the following:

Article 1.

The synod-organs, constituted under these provisions, and provided for by the “regulation for parishes and synods,” dated 10th September, 1873, (Laws of 1874, p. 151,) and by the regulation for general synods, dated 20th January, 1876, and attached hereto, shall exercise the following rights according to the provisions of this law.

Article 2.

The circuit synod shall exercise the rights assigned to it in the regulation for parishes and synods, dated 10th September, 1873, concerning—

1.
The common arrangements and institutions for the Christian works of love existing in the parishes and in the circuit synods. (§ 53, No. 5.)
2.
The treasury and financial matters of the several parishes and of the ecclesiastical foundations within the district. (§ 53, No. 6.)
3.
The treasury of the circuit synod, the accountant of the circuit synod, the budget of the treasury, and the apportionment of the contributions of the church treasuries and of the parishes. (§ 53, No. 7.)
4.
The statutory ordinances. (§ 53, No. 8.)

The resolutions necessary for the exercise of these rights shall be passed as provided by § 52, clauses 3, 4.

Article 3.

The parishes shall have the right to complain of the resolutions of the circuit synod for the apportionment of the necessary contributions to the treasury of the circuit synod within twenty-one days from the delivery of the resolution.

The complaints are decided by the state officials.

Article 4.

The establishment of statutory regulations within the business jurisdiction assigned to the circuit synod (§ 53, No. 8; § 65, No. 5) requires the prior recognition by the state officials that the proposed provisions are not contrary to the law of 25th May, 1874, and this law.

Article 5.

The direction of the circuit synod exercises the right to make preliminary decisions in cases of haste in accordance with the cosupervision assigned to the synod by § 53, Nos. 5 and 6. (§ 55, No. 6.)

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Article 6.

The rights which belong to the circuit synod and its direction, according to articles 2 to 5, are transferred to the united circuit synods, and their directions for the common affairs in the case provided for by § 57, clause 1, when the union takes place with the consent of the individual circuit synod.

Article 7.

If the jurisdiction of a circuit synod or of a union of circuit synods, formed according to § 57, clause 1, or of their direction according to clause 2 of this paragraph, is to be extended with reference to peculiar arrangements or wants of a circuit, a regulation shall be issued in accordance with the provisions of the clause mentioned. Article 4 of this law is applicable to the establishment of the same.

Article 8.

In the regulation for the united circuit synods of the capital city, Berlin, the right may be given them—

1. To make determination concerning changing, abolishing, or introducing general fees for all parishes.

2. To order general assessments for the following purposes:

a. To make compensation for surplice-fees that are to be abolished.

b. To grant assistance to poorer parishes to provide for pressing church needs.

If the assessment for this last purpose exceeds three per cent. of the amount of personal taxes (class and income-tax) due from the members of the parishes, permission by the state ministry must be obtained.

The assessments must be levied uniformly and simultaneously in all the parishes; and the provision of § 31, No. 6, of the regulation for parishes and synods, of 10th September, 1873, shall be the basis of the apportionment.

Article 3, clauses 3, 4, of the law of the 25th May, 1874, shall apply to the resolutions concerning such assessments.

3. To establish a synod-treasury for the reception and use of the assessments levied.

For the bestowal upon the shortly to be established provincial synod of Berlin, of the rights conceded to the provincial synods in this law, a state law shall be necessary.

Article 9.

In other places, which contain several parishes not united under one pastor, the purposes designated in the above provision can be declared as being general affairs, in the sense of article 4 of the law of May 25, 1874, upon the joint motion of the representation of all, or of a majority, of the parishes of the same place. In case of the objection of the representative of one only of the parishes, this can take place only by consent of the provincial synod.

Article 10.

The provincial synod shall exercise the rights assigned to it in the regulation for parishes and synods, dated 10th September, 1873, concerning—

1.
The statutory provisions passed by the circuit synods. (§ 65, No. 5.)
2.
The synod widow and orphan funds, the provincial funds and foundations, the treasury of the circuit synod, and of the provincial synod. (§ 65, No. 6.)
3.
New church expenses for provincial purposes. (§ 65, No. 7.)
4.
The application of the amount of the collection to be made in church and in dwellings for the benefit of the needy communities of the district, (§ 65, No. 8,) before every assembly of the provincial synod, or to be annually made in the province. The right to order such a collection in dwellings does not require the special authorization of an official of the state; but the upper president must first be notified of the time of such collection.

The resolution necessary for the exercise of these rights shall be passed according to the provisions of § 70, clauses 1, 2.

Article 11.

The new church expenses for provincial purposes, (§ 65, No. 7 of the regulation for parishes and synods,) 10th September, 1873, sanctioned by the provincial synods, are distributed among the treasuries of the circuit synods in accordance with the rules established in §§ 72, 73.

The resolution approving the expenses and the apportionment require the approval of the state official. This approval is particularly to be refused if question arises concerning the regularity of the resolution, the appropriateness of the proportion of distribution, or the ability of the district to pay.

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Article 12.

The provisions of §§ 71–74 of the regulation for parishes and synods, dated 10th September, 1873, concerning the expenses of the circuit and provisional synods, shall be applied as soon as the new synod-organs shall have been established in accordance with §§ 43–46 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876.

Article 13.

Church laws or ordinances, whether passed for the national church or for particular provinces or districts, shall be valid only when not at variance with a state law.

The King shall not be applied to for his sanction of a law made by a provincial synod, or by the general synod, until it shall have been established by a declaration on the part of the state ministry that the state has no objection to make to the law. That such is the case is to be stated in the formula of announcement.

Clause 4, of § 6 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876, shall also apply to provincial church laws.

The provisions of this article obtain also within the jurisdiction of the church regulation of March 5, 1835, for the province of Westphalia and the Rhine province.

Article 14.

The general synod exercises the rights assigned it in the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876, concerning:

1.
The church-fund placed under the administration and disposition of the evangelical upper church council, (Oberkirchenrath.) (§§ 11, 12.)
2.
New expenses for purposes of the state church.—(§ 14.)
3.
Applying the receipts from the property of the church and from the benefices for contributions for church purposes. (§ 15.)

The resolutions necessary for the exercise of these rights shall be passed in accordance with § 32, clauses 2, 4.

Article 15.

Church laws by which new expenses for purposes of the church of the state shall be approved (§ 14 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876,) and the final agreement between the general synod and the church government concerning the distribution of the assessment among the provinces, (§ 14, clause 2 of the last-mentioned law,) require the approval of the minister of state before being submitted to the King for sanction. The consent is to be stated in the formula of announcement.

The royal ordinance concerning the provisional establishment of the proposition of distribution (§ 14, clause 2) must be countersigned by the minister of state.

The subdistribution in the provinces of Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, and Saxony shall be made according to article 11. The subdistribution in the province of Westphalia and the Rhine province shall be made according to § 135 of the regulation for church matters, dated 5th March, 1835. The list for the distribution among the circuit synods shall be approved in accordance with article 11, clause 2, and that for the distribution among the parishes in accordance with article 3.

Article 16.

The entire sum of the assessments determined upon under article 10, No. 3, and 14, No. 2, leaving synodal expenses out of consideration, shall not for the purposes of the provincial and land church exceed 4 per cent. of the entire amount of the class and income tax of the population belonging to the Evangelical National Church.

How much of the assessments permissible within these limits may be levied by the provincial synods, and how much by the general synod, shall be determined by a national church law.

Church laws which exceed this rate require the confirmation of a state law. The same is the case when church laws direct the imposition of a burden upon par for par purposes, or produce such a result.

Article 17.

Church laws by which the receipts from the church property or from the benefices are applied as contributions for church purposes, (§ 15 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876,) shall not injure the owners of benefices in such rights as they may have acquired before the passage of this law, must direct the payment in the several classes of church treasuries or benefices at the same rate, and require the approval of the ministry of state before they are submitted to the King for his sanction. The approval is to be mentioned in the formula of publication.

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The approval shall not be refused if the law has been regularly passed and the contents of the same are in harmony with § 15 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876, and with this article. Church communities which prove that they cannot dispense with the full surpluses of their church-treasury on account of needs to be met in the next following years, are to be relieved from the contributory obligation for the time being.

The contributions may be collected by the way of administrative execution.

Exception may be taken to the execution within twenty-one days from the receipt of the demand of payment, on the ground that the assessment is not in accordance with law, or that the calculation of the amount is incorrect, or that the church treasury is discharged from the obligation to contribute by clause 3.

The state tribunal passes upon the exception.

Article 18.

The direction of the general synod exercises the rights assigned to it in §§ 11, 12, of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876, and has the administration of the treasury of the general synod. (§ 34, No. 6.)

The resolutions necessary for the exercise of these rights shall be passed in accordance with § 35, clause 2.

Article 19.

The Evangelical Church of the state shall be represented in its property affairs by the evangelical upper church council, (Oberkirchenrath,) in association with the direction of the general synod, (§ 36, No. 4, of the regulation of the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876.) The authority to borrow money is not included therein.

Declarations in writing which legally bind the Evangelical Church of the state towards a third party must show in their execution that the direction of the general synod approved the resolution, and also require the signature of the president of the Evangelical Upper-Church Council or his representative, and the official seal.

Article 20.

§§ 38 to 40 of the regulation for the general synod, dated 20 January, 1876, are applicable as regards the expenses of the general synod, its directors, committees, and commissioners, and also for those of the synod council.

Article 21.

The administration of the affairs of the Evangelical National Church, (Landeskirche,) in so far as the same has heretofore been exercised by the minister for ecclesiastical affairs, and by the governments, is transferred to the Evangelical Upper-Church Council, and to the consistories as organs of the church government.

The time and the execution of the transfer is reserved for royal ordinance. Changes in the “colleaguial” constitution of these organs need approval by a state law. (Regulation for the general synod, dated January 20, 1876, § 7, No. 5.)

Article 22.

Nothing is changed by this law in the jurisdiction of the officials with reference to the rights of presentation, and the ecclesiastical affairs of the military, and of the public institutions.

Article 23.

To the state officials remain—

1.
The order and execution of police regulations necessary to uphold the outer order of the church.
2.
The regulation of contested building affairs for church, parsonage, and sexton’s buildings, and the provisional execution of the decisions in these cases.
3.
Collection of church taxes.
4.
The keeping of the church books, in so far as these are records of the civil status.
5.
The issue of certificates concerning the facts which entitle to dispensation from costs.
6.
Co-operation in changing existing parishes or forming new ones.
7.
Co-operation in filling church disciplinary offices, or in directing an administration of them by a commission. This co-operation is to be continued within the same bounds as heretofore. It is particularly required that the appointment of the members of the church disciplinary tribunals shall be countersigned by the minister of ecclesiastical affairs.

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Article 24.

The resolutions of the organs of the church require, to become valid, the approval of the supervisory officials of the state in the following cases:

1.
The purchase, sale, or mortgaging of real estate.
2.
The sale of objects having historical, scientific, or art value.
3.
Loans, in so far as they do not serve a temporary purpose only and can be repaid from the receipts of the same period.
4.
The introduction and change of the list of costs.
5.
The erection of new buildings, to be used as churches or for parsons or servants of the church.
6.
The establishing or changing of burial-grounds.
7.
The publishing, preparing, or carrying out collections outside of the church-building, without prejudice to article 10, No. 4.
8.
The use of the property of the church for other than the fixed purposes. Gifts from the treasury of the church to other parishes, or for the support of evangelical institutions, if they do not exceed in each case 2 per cent. of the total amount of the receipts of one fiscal year, and all together do not exceed 5 per cent., do not require the approval of the state officials.

Article 25.

Gratuitous grants and grants by testament or last will are subject to the law of 23d February, 1870.

Article 26.

The organs of the church do not require authorization from state officials to carry on suits at law.

Article 27.

The state official has a right to examine into the administration of the property of the church, and for this purpose demand the budgets and accounts; also to make extraordinary revisions, and to insist on correction of anything found to be contrary to law, by using for this purpose the means allowed by law.

If a church board or the representatives of a congregation refuse to place in the list of expenditures, to fix or to approve payments which are to be made from the church property, or which are incumbent upon the parishioners, the consistory and the state officials are authorized to make the entry, by common consent, in the list of expenditures, and to order such other measures as may be necessary.

If the officers of the congregation deny the illegality of the offices to which objection is made, or their own obligation to make the payments entered upon the list of expenditures by order of the consistory and the state officials, the superior administrative tribunal shall decide the case, complaint being made by the officers of the congregation

Article 28.

A royal ordinance will determine which state officials are to exercise the rights mentioned in articles 3, 5, and 8 of the law of 25th May, 1874, and in articles 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, and 17, clause 6, and articles 23, 24, and 27 of this law.

Article 29.

All the provisions contrary to this law, to the regulation for parishes and synods, dated 10th September, 1873, sections 2–5, and to the annexed regulation for the general synod, dated 20th January, 1876, be they contained in general laws for the land, provincial or local laws or orders, or be they based on observance or custom, are hereby abolished.

Officially, &c., authenticated.

President of the upper house,

V. BERNUTH,
Acting.