The Evangelic Church Council President of Germany (EKD), Annette Kurschus, announced on November 20th, during a press conference in Bielefeld, her resignation from all her positions. She has been acussed of covering up a sexual assault case when she was a pastor in Siegen. Kurchus also resigned from her presidential position at the Westphalia Evangelic Church.
During the past days the pressure and critics of the German media have increased. The piece of news is as follows: the prosecution of Siegen is investigating an ex-employee of the church within Siegen itself, a city with a hundred thousand people in
North Rhineland, for a number of sexual assault cases. Kurschus was a pastor in this district precisely, during the 90’s.
The crimes reported are long- dating sexual assaults towards young men. According to an investigation of the “Siegener Zeitung,” in office as a pastor in Siegen and superintendent in the ecclesiastic district, Kurschus was aware of the acussations of inappropiate sexual behaviour against the church employee, but she never reported them. The newspaper cited statements of two men who had said to had informed Kurschus about the acussations. They both confirmed their statements with affidavits.
When the piece of news became known, Detlev Zander, one of the spokesmen of the German Evangelic Church Forum about participation in sexual violence, demanded the resignation of Kurschus over the weekend. The German Evangelic Church (EKD) contributes financially since 2020 with 3.6 million Euros to a broad investigation on sexual violence and other forms of abuse in the Church and deaconry. The goal of the investigation is a global annalysis of the evangelic structures and the sistemic conditions that enable abuse and make its detection dificult.
In her public statement, Kurschus reaffirmed her rejection of the cover-up acussation. An annonymous report was made in the early months of 2023. “I never knew of any sexually violent act committed by this person” she highlighted. “I’m at peace with myself. I always acted to the best of my knowledge.” Meanwhile, however, the public debate on the topic became so heated that the pastor “does not think she has a choice but to resign to avoid damage to my church. I absolutely do not wish this conflict to take place because it coould be a danger to the achievements we have had through many years when it comes to tackling and dealing with sexual violence jointly with those affected. And this final goal has not been achieved yet. I support the people who work here. I do not want to cause harm with the newspapers headlines by retaining my office.”
Kirsten Fehrs, bishop of Hamburg and Lübeck and vicepresident of the EKD Council, will take office as president of the Council and her authority will be effective immediately.
Kurschus had been the president of the Evangelic Church of Westphalia since March 1th, 2012. In 2015 she became vicepresident of the German Evangelic Church Council (EKD) and, finally, in November 2021 she was elected as president of the Evangelic Church Council. In Germany, the number of evangelic and lutheran of people is of approximately twenty-five million people.