By Julie Rowe
“We’ve heard a large number of American Lutherans will be coming to Germany from now until 2017. We would like that!” said one of the 21 German pastors who were visiting the ELCA churchwide office in August. What’s going on to suggest American Lutherans would be catching the next plane to Germany?
October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg sparking a movement to reform the church and breathe life into the faith of believers.
In Wittenberg and throughout Germany, events leading up to 2017 have already begun in what is termed the “Luther Decade.” They began in 2008 with a festival weekend in which Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, planted a tree in the Luther Garden and then officiated at the worship service.
ELCA Wittenberg Center
Using good stewardship of our possessions, the ELCA is participating in this significant commemoration through a renewed engagement in the ELCA Wittenberg Center, where Arden Haug, ELCA pastor and missionary, will direct the center’s activities.
The goal is to provide a space where Lutherans from around the world can gather to explore Lutheran identity and what it means to be the ever-reforming church in this important time in our history.
The emphasis is not only on our Reformation heritage but the direction of our future mission. How can a deeper appreciation for the roots of our faith help us better serve our neighbors and build our capacity for mission in an increasingly secular and complicated world?
Avenues are being developed for us to explore how we accompany one another as global Lutherans on this journey. Consider participating in one of a number of pilgrimages to Wittenberg and other Reformation sites that are being planned collaboratively with ELCA colleges, seminaries, congregations and synods, the churchwide office and other partners that will bring the reforming spirit alive for you.
Information on pilgrimages will be available online as it becomes available, or email email@example.com to inquire about setting up a pilgrimage for your congregation or synod.
We know that many people will not be able to go to Wittenberg, but the ELCA Wittenberg Center will be providing resources and online experiences that will educate and raise awareness for pastors and congregations. Pastors can look for fresh Reformation Sunday sermon and worship resources. Educational resources for all ages are also planned for future years.
It’s a good time to be a Lutheran and to strengthen our identity as an ever-renewing church! Begin to think creatively about how you might incorporate these commemorations, themes and resources into your congregation, synod assembly or theological conference.
The Reformation lives!
Julie Rowe works at the ELCA churchwide organization in Chicago. She is also the interim pastor at Northlake Lutheran Church, Northlake, Ill.