Czech Bible Society
Czech Evangelical Alliance
Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
THE CZECHOSLOVAK HUSSITE CHURCH
Církev československá husitská
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CHC) confesses that it has come to being from God´s will and mercy, so that through this church a great many individuals were brought into the only, Holy and Catholic Church of God – those who would otherwise have remained lost in disbelief and hopelessness, and so that it struggled for the pristine and impeccable God´s Church (The Foundations of Faith of the CHC, art. 42).
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church (until 1971 the Czechoslovak Church) was founded in 1919 during the Christmas season, when for the first time in many Catholic churches the God´s service was celebrated in Czech. Officially it was established on January 8, 1920 in Prague. Its founders, headed by ThDr. Karel Farský, who later became the new church´s first patriarch, belonged to the radical wing of the modernist reform movement of Roman Catholic clergy.
Following are basic features of the CHC coming out of the hitherto theological tradition:
1. The supreme norm is the Christ´s Spirit (God´s Spirit, Holy Spirit). The revelation is identical with God´s Word, and God´s Word with Jesus Christ. The Bible and God´s Word are not always identical. The aim is to fill the whole life with Christ´s Spirit, which means to be his effective instrument in the world.
2. Apostolic and reformation character
Both are to be understood spiritually (coming out of the Holy Spirit). The apostolic character of the church is determined by the treasuring and transferring of pure biblical tidings and bringing them up to date. They cause revival through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The reformation character consists in persistent purification of the church tradition on the bases of biblical tidings under the norm of the Christ´s Spirit.
3. Calling Christ to presence in a community as a liturgical principle
On his Father´s order and according to his own promises in the power of the Holy Spirit live Christ makes himself present at sacramental acts of the church, the church becoming his body on this Earth.
4. Respect for scientific truth and openness towards the world
The last Truth is only one. The knowledge of this ultimate Truth is only partial. We consider the Truth not only as a principle of knowledge, but as a responsible relation to God and to human beings. What is true is also good (ethical character); what is true is also beautiful (aesthetical character). It relates to positive and understanding relationship to the world in all. The true proclamation of the gospel to present men and women represents historical creative power.
5. Freedom of conscience
From human side it opens the horizon of pluralism of opinions and attitudes. We understand freedom as “full personal obedience and responsibility of mercy and truth, which happened in Jesus Christ“ (The Foundations of Faith of CHC, art. 49). It applies in inner respect towards basic spiritual values and features of the church tradition. It is „free from human intrusioninto church history“ (The Foundations of Faith, art. 49), compare Master Jan Hus.
6. Presbyterian and episcopal system
It is based on common priesthood of Christ´s people. The ministry of priesthood of the whole Church of Christ are transferred at the ordination of priests “to capacitated and trustworthy persons“(The Foundations of Faith, art. 345), men and since 1947 also women, so that the following three authorities of Christ: prophetic – teacher´s, royal – pastoral, ministry – sacrificial – should be preserved without restrictions and in unity. According to the degree of responsibility entrusted, the ministry is divided into deacony, priesthood and episcopate. Presbytarian system means the participation of elected or called out presbyters (elders) in the church administration.
By its name “The Czechoslovak Hussite Church“ professes its appurtenance to Christian traditions of our historical lands, which were in the past spiritually joined by part of the inhabitants of the Slovak Republic. Among these traditions it is the Hussite (Czech) or so called “first reformation“ tradition, which has the spiritually determining position. However, at the same time it crosses the boarders of these countries in the sense of European and world dimensions in the contribution of the first-reformation ideas for the ecumenical form of one, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Therefore the CHC is a member of the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, the Conference of European Churches, and the Leuenberg Community of Churches.
The Hussite Church represents the centre between the Catholic substance (liturgy and seven sacraments) and the protestant principle (doctrine and order). Its church practice permanently undergoes critical checking by its theology.
The basic organisational unit is the congregation, which is led by the council of elders. The council is elected by the congregation. Its virile member is the appointed minister (preacher, deacon or priest). The church has five dioceses, their seats being in Prague, Pilsen, Hradec Králové, Brno and Olomouc, which are administered by Diocese Councils, headed by bishops, who are elected by the diocese assemblies. The whole of the church is administered by the Central Council (members of the Central Council are elected by the diocese assembly with equal representation of priests and presbyters), which is headed by a bishop – the patriarch, who is elected by the Church Assembly. As a rule, all higher bodies are elected for the period of seven years. The Church Assembly decides on fundamental doctrinal and organisational norms (The Foundations of Faith of the CHC; The Order of Spiritual Care; The Basics of Social and Ethical Orientation of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church; The Order of Ministry; The Establishment of the CHC, and The Organisational Rules of the CHC). In the period between Church Assemblies it is upon the church representation to make decisions.
The candidates of ministry are prepared at the Hussite Faculty of Theology of the Charles University in Prague (HFT CU) during a five-year study programme and in church courses (courses for preachers, deacons, priests and special courses), which are organised by the central Council. Social and missionary work is supervised by the Diaconia and Mission Organisation of the CHC. The Central Council of the church issues a weekly called “Český zápas“ (The Czech Struggle), the HTF CU issues The Theological Review. Further publishing activity is ensured by the publishing house Blahoslav.
The CHC has 180.000 adherents. In 307 congregations 266 ministers are active, including 130 women.
The Central Council of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church:
Ústřední rada CČSH
The Hussite Faculty of Theology of the Charles University
Husitská teologická fakulta UK
phone: 02-41 40 97 69, 41 40 56 09