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Formerly the highest ecclesiastical office in many German Protestant churches, exercising authority in conjunction with the provincial consistory and synod. It was purely ecclesiastical, not being confirmed by the state. Numbers would vary in different provinces, e.g., four in Brandenburg, three in Saxony. In the west the title was replaced by that of “Präses,” and in the east the bishop of Berlin has been set over them. It has also been an office among British Baptists since 1916, having pastoral and administrative care of areas in the country in an advisory capacity. It recalls the “Messenger” of the seventeenth-century.