Pomerania (Pommern) Church History

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In the early days of the colonization of Pomerania, the Catholic church owned large tracts of land and was an important part of life in Pomerania. In 1525 Lutheranism began its growth in Pomerania, and by 1534 the Lutheran Church of Pomerania was established. The wars of religion, particularly the Thirty Years War, caused much destruction of villages and farms in Pomerania as well as killing as much as 1/3 of the population. In 1817 Fridrich Wilhelm III combined the Lutheran Church and the Calvinist Reformed Church to form the Evangelische Kirche, the official State church for all of his German kingdoms, including Pommern.

Most pastors in Pommern were required to support themselves economically. The expense of procuring a farm, usually from the heirs of a pastor's predecessor, often put the pastor in debt. In addition the work required to care for a farm and pay off such debts often prompted parishoners to complain that the pastor was neglecting the ministry in favor of his farm. In the 18th century measures were instituted which required "to be freed from agricultural work as much as possible."

Prior to this however, customs evolved which lessened the expense of becoming a pastor in a new parish. One of these customs was for the ministry to pass down from father to son. Another unusual custom was for the new pastor to marry the widow or daughter of his predecessor. This eliminated the expense of purchasing the deceased pastor's estate, and also ensured that the heirs would be cared for. These marriages were not always well matched in age. A woman could easily have 2 or even 3 husbands over her lifetime, all pastors of the same parish.

Source: On The Marriage Customs of the Pastors in the 1700's

Pomeranian Society of Freistadt Newsletter

FHL US Canada Book 977.591/G1 H25p

June 2008