If we take the age of her last predecessors when they took office (72 years in 2014 for Irmgard Schwaetzer, 43 years for Katrin Göring-Eckardt in 2009 and 46 years for Barbara Rinke in 2003) that of Anna-Nicole Heinrich, 25 years old, out of tune. Elected at the head of the synod of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) on Saturday, May 8, the philosophy student at the University of Regensburg (Bavaria) becomes the youngest leader of the synod since its creation in 1945.
The young woman won more than half of the votes in the first round with 75 votes out of the 126 votes cast. She became known in particular within the EKD for having worked as a youth delegate within the working group called the “Z-Team” or the “Future Team”, created in 2017. Anna-Nicole Heinrich participated to the development of twelve guiding principles for a reform of the Protestant Church, adopted by the synod last November. Which obviously propelled him to the front line.
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An irresistible rise that reveals a strong personality. The religious career of the young German indeed arouses astonishment. Coming from a non-Christian family, her parents lived in East Germany under the communist regime of the GDR (German Democratic Republic). Taking advantage of reunification, his family left Thuringia to settle in the Upper Palatinate, to the east of the Bavarian region. But faith still had no place in the family. The conversion was the fruit of a very personal journey. Following religious education classes in primary school, Anna-Nicole Heinrich decided to be baptized. She then turned to the Evangelical Church until she reached the highest secular office in German Protestantism.
A president for a Church “full of hope, inclusive and pragmatic”
The new president of the EKD must now ensure the organization of Protestant ecclesial life at the national level: “My Church has shown courage », She confided following the vote. But Anna-Nicole Heinrich does not want to be reduced to her young age and is keen to shape the process of ongoing reforms: “ I would like to represent an open, missionary Church, which, I hope, does not let itself be too guided by political positions, but which always refers to social issues. “, She said in an interview published on the EKD website.
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One of the first tasks she will have to take on is the organization of the election of the new EKD Council President next November, who will succeed Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. The latter also congratulated the appointment of Anna-Nicole Heinrich: “It is a historic decision that the EKD Synod has taken today and a clear sign for the future: young people are actively shaping the Church. “