History of the Ecumenical Institute

The Ecumenical Institute was founded in December 1956 as one of the first institutions of its kind at a German university. It was intended to help overcome "confessionalist constrictions", to build a bridge to the Eastern and South-Eastern European Protestant churches, and to become familiar with developments in theology and the church especially in England and North America.

First Years

The first director was Prof. Erich Dinkler (New Testament and History of the Early Church) who had taught in the USA with important influence from Hans Joachim Iwand. Dinkler's followers were the systematic theologians Gerhard Gloege, Walter Kreck, and Hermann Dembowski.

In 1976 J. F. Gerhard Goeters (Modern Church History) and Gerhard Sauter (Systematic and Ecumenical Theology) took over responsibility for the institute.

© Volker Lannert / Universität Bonn
© Barbara Fromm / Universität Bonn


Under Sauter's leadership, partnerships have been established with Oxford University's Faculty of Theology, Duke University's Divinity School (until 2003), the Warsaw Christian Theological Academy, and the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague.

As part of these partnerships, a student exchange with Oxford and Durham, among others, has been established. Organized symposia, combined research projects, guest lectures, and young scholars from the Warsaw Academy and the Prague faculty have been supported financially, and Polish translations of German textbooks have been supervised.

Contributions to the ecumenical conversation and participation in the North American program of the Faculty of Arts in Bonn are also emphasized.

Recent Developments

After the retirement of Prof. Goeters (1991), his successor, Karl-Heinz, joined until 2000. In 2001 Prof. Jörg Haustein (Modern Church History) became director, and in 2004 Prof. Michael Meyer-Blanck took over. From 2007 on, he and Prof. Andreas Pangritz were joint directors of the Institute.

© Volker Lannert / Universität Bonn


On the history of the Ecumenical Institute see Heiner Faulenbach, Die Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät Bonn, Sechs Jahrzehnte aus ihrer Geschichte seit 1945, Göttingen 2009, 371-382 ( Ecumenical Institute) und 338-343 (Partnerships: Warsaw, Durham, Oxford and Prague).

On Ecumenical Theology in the Faculty of Protestant Theology Prof. Sauter wrote in: Forschungsbericht 1987-1989 der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Bonn 1991, 8-15.

See also


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