The Organisation of the Reformed Church of Transylvania in the 16th Century. (I.)


The structure of the Transylvanian Reformed Church in the 16–17th centuries showed many similarities to the West-European Reformed church models. Except for the institution of elders (Presbiterium), all other church institutions were established as early as the middle of the 16th century. The main cause of the lack of the institution of elders was the dissimilarity in the struc- ture of the society. While the society in the West was founded on civil democracy, the social system of Transylvania was rather feudalistic, consequently the lower part of the society had little influence on governing, both on a local and on a regional level. This is why the Presbiterium, as one of the democratic institutions of the church in the West, failed to be implemented within the structure of the church government in Transylvania. Thus the lowest level of church gov- ernment was the synod of the classis or deanery (synodus particularis), lead by the dean (in the west: the inspector). As the entire church structure reflected somehow the structure of the secular society, the church as an organization could have been incorporated into the feudal secular society.