Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren
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The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) (Czech: Českobratrská církev evangelická; ČCE) is the largest Czech Protestant church and the second largest church in general after the Catholic Church. It was formed in 1918 in Czechoslovakia through the unification of the Protestant churches of the Lutheran and Reformed confessions. The ECCB has about 115,000 members in more than 260 local congregations, which are broken down into 14 seniorates (presbyteries) throughout the Czech Republic.
In 2013, it reported 84,022 baptized members. Numbers peaked in 1950 with 402,000 members; since Communist rule, the Czech Republic's censuses found 203,996 members in 1991, 117,212 in 2001, and 51,936 in 2011.
Reformation in the Czech lands started already in the 15th century, one century before the great Luther's Reformation. At that time, most Czechs (~85%) were Protestant; there were two Protestant churches: the Utraquist Hussite Church (1431–1620) and the Unity of the Brethren (1457–1620). (The latter was in the 1720s partially renewed outside of Czech territory as the Moravian Church.) However, non-Catholic churches were forbidden in 1620, when Bohemian Revolt was decisively defeated and victorious Habsburg rulers imposed harsh Counter-Reformation measures on the Bohemian Crown. This ban was mitigated in 1781 by issuing the Patent of Toleration that permitted Lutheran and Reformed churches in the Habsburg Monarchy (yet full equality with Catholic faith and equality before the law Protestants obtained as late as in 1867, when Austria-Hungary was created). Nevertheless, other minor churches were still forbidden until the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
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