Situation of the Protestant Church(es) in Poland
38,4 million people live in Poland. While most of them are members of the Roman Catholic Church (94%), only 0,4% of the population are Protestants. These 160 000 Protestants belong to over 80 different Protestant churches and religious associations. 70 000, the vast majority of them, are members of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland. It consists of six dioceses. They differ completely due to history, tradition, region and culture. The Cieszyńska Diocese is the smallest, but it has the most members. Other dioceses are extensive and have fewer members, so they are more scattered. Each diocese has its own way of working, being visible and influencing others.
In May 1994, a law concerning the relationship of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland and the Republic of Poland was enacted. It defines the rights and duties of the Church in the state. Furthermore, marriage granted under church law results in civil law. In addition to that, it included the right to be released from study and work on Good Friday, the Ascension of Jesus and the Reformation Day. The church was allowed to conduct religious education in public schools (pastors employed by schools). And police officers, firemen, soldiers and prisoners got the right to participate in religious practices, make use of pastoral care and participate in services.
As the Protestants are a minority in Poland, it is very difficult to say how and to what extent they shape the political worldview of society. But they have representatives in the government and the local authorities (over 100 representatives). They helped very much with the preparations for the 500 years of Reformation. Thanks to good relations in the Silesian Regional Council, year 2017 was declared a Year of Reformation in the voivodeship of Silesia.
The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland plays a part in society by offering education, e.g. schools, because of the believe that education and upbringing are an important element of the state and church. Schools pass on important values like love, respect for others, caring for spirituality, responsibility. Furthermore, they are engaged in diaconal work. They support and conduct nursing homes, rehabilitation equipment rentals and fundraising events and projects. In ecumenical projects the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland works together with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Evangelical Reformed Church. They are even visible in the media. Every year, Good Friday service and Reformation Day service is broadcasted live on public TV. They have their own program in Radio Katowice and are part off religious programs in other radio stations. In Gliwice, where the participant, Tymoteusz Bujok works as a pastor, they have a YouTube chanel – Christian Internet Television. It exists for over 4 years now and offers one film per week with a focus on Bible texts. They also conduct two publishing houses – Augustana (Bielsko-Biała) and Warto (Dzięgielów) – with their own newspaper – Zwiastun (every two week)CME – with an especially dedicated unit to „The Center for Mission and Evangelism”. Bujok records at the end of his presentations: „As Protestants we are a small group. Sometimes nobody cares about us. But we can care about others. And this is our responsibility.“