Gottfried Locher had chaired the Council since 2011. During his tenure important changes took place, particularly the adoption of a Constitution for all member churches throughout Switzerland, which laid the foundation for the Protestant Church in Switzerland PCS. Today the PCS is well positioned vis-à-vis the federal authorities and government, in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. As President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), Gottfried Locher also worked in an international context.
Presidency possible only with full capacity to act
For several weeks, the President’s capacity to act had been restricted because of an issue. This was brought to the Council’s attention on April 13 and has been dealt with intensively since then. The facts of the matter have not been ascertained or corroborated, and are only now being clarified. Nevertheless, in view of the current challenges facing the PCS and the limitation of his powers as President, Gottfried Locher decided to resign immediately in a conversation with the Council. According to Locher, discussions about his personal situation should not complicate the work of the Protestant Church in Switzerland. With his departure, he wishes to set an example so that all energies can be focused on the further development of the church. Locher announced his resignation from office today in a letter to the Synod President.
The Council of the PCS respects this step by Gottfried Locher and expresses its gratitude for his services to the Protestant Church in Switzerland.
Evaluation within the PCS not yet completed
The evaluation of the matter continues within the PCS. Already on 17 April 2020 the Council, whose members at the time were Esther Gaillard, Ruth Pfister, Ulrich Knoepfel, Pierre-Philippe Blaser and Daniel Reuter, decided that the complex matter should be investigated independently by an external body. This body has now been determined. The Council is in contact with the Presidiums of the Synod and the Audit Committee regarding this matter, in order to coordinate various investigations. After the departure of a member of the Council and the Council President, the PCS desires clarity so that it can draw the right conclusions from these events and ultimately emerge stronger.
Vice Presidents Esther Gaillard and Daniel Reuter will manage affairs until the new Presidium is appointed. The Council and the PCS Offices will ensure that operations continue smoothly.