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Monday, 1 May 2017

Reformation 500

The following piece is included in the latest newsletter for Churches Together in Westminster:

2017 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the door of the castle chapel in the German town of Wittenberg – an event that has become known as the starting point of the Reformation. Across the continent, numerous events are planned, from art to worship, to remember that episode in Christian history, and to reflect on its influence on our society as an extensive movement of reform. The anniversary is an opportunity to explore how a better understanding of what took place 500 years ago in Wittenberg can draw people and churches closer together. 

Churches Together in England have been urged to keep this anniversary together in the spirit of five 'R's:
  • Rejoicing – because of the joy in the gospel which we share, and because what we have in common is greater than that which divides; and that God is patient with our divisions, that we are coming back together and can learn from each other. 
  • Remembering – because all three streams of the Reformation have their witnesses and one church’s celebration could be another’s painful memory; and yet all believed they acted in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ for their time. 
  • Reforming – because the Church needs always to grow closer to Christ, and therefore closer to all who proclaim him Lord, and it is by the mutual witness of faith that we will approach the unity for which Christ prayed for his followers. 
  • Repenting – because the splintering of our unity led us to formulate stereotypes and prejudices about each other’s traditions which have too often diverted our attention from our calling as witnesses together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world. 
  • Reconciling – because the call to oneness in Christ begins from the perspective of unity not division, strengthening what is held in common, even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced. In national and local events, whether together or separately, churches are seeking to honour each other and give thanks for our growing friendship and fellowship in the Gospel. 
One such initiative is ‘Still Reforming’, in which twelve parishes across London are welcoming each other, fellow Londoners, and visitors on their doorsteps, inviting them to experience for themselves the diverse heritage of the Reformation. Each month, a different congregation is hosting an event beginning at its open door, in the hope that all those involved will learn something new, exchange ideas and perspectives, and attempt to understand together what the relevance of the Reformation is for us today. Several CTiW churches are involved. 

The Anglican-Lutheran Society in Partnership with Women and the Church (WATCH) London and St Anne’s Lutheran Church is organising three evenings of interactive presentations and social time to be held at St Mary-at-Hill, Lovat Lane, Eastcheap, London, EC3R 8EE, home to the Lutheran Congregation of St Anne’s, on Women of the Reformation: Overlooked Stories. On Thursday 18 May, 6.30-8.30pm, Anne Boileau, author of Katharina Luther: Nun. Rebel. Wife, will present Katharina von Bora, Dr. Martin Luther's Wife. Then, on Thursday 22 June, 6.30-8.30pm, Rev'd Dr Roy Long, a retired Pastor in the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, will speak about Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's Last Wife. Finally, on Thursday 29 June, 6.30-8.30pm, Rev’d Eliza Zikmane (Lutheran Pastor), Rev’d Dr Julia Candie (Anglican Vicar) and Sally Barnes (Anglican Lay Woman) will provide stories of Women Reformers Then and Now. 

Conferences which may be of interest include Reformation 500: Ecumenical Perspectives, the annual conference of the Society for Ecumenical Studies, on 17 June in Oxford and Responding to the Reformation, the Churches Together in England conference, from 16-18 October in Swanwick. 

See for a fuller listing of Reformation 500 events.


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