Commemorating a Special Event

Monday, November 20, 2017

October 31, 2017 marked a special date in the history of Protestant churches throughout the world, as that date marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation is generally considered to have started on October 31, 1517, when a German monk named Martin Luther posted a theses about 95 concerns he had about some of the practices of the church on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, and then sent the list to the Archbishop of Mainz.

Luther felt these practices were not based on the teachings of the Bible , and over the next four years, he would question other church practices as well. Thanks to recent invention of the printing press, he was able to disseminate his concerns to many others. Luther also translated the Bible into German, so the “common man” would finally be able to read it and see God’s teachings for himself.

Parallel to the events in Germany, a movement had also begun in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli, and these two movements quickly agreed on most issues, though some unresolved differences kept them separate.

The work and writings of John Calvin were also influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere.

Long story short. Luther’s actions on October 31, 1517 “started the ball rolling,” and over the years, several different Protestant denominations came into being, with the common denominator of protesting long-standing church doctrine.

Visitors from Germany - A few members of the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation posed with a couple of “visitors from Germany” during this year of commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. left to right, Connie Mohn, Martin Luther, Brent Peterson, JoAnne Tapper, Dave Hickman, Katie Luther (Martin’s wife) and Presley Johnston.
Photo contributed.

Included among these Protestant (root word “protest”) denominations were Lutherans, Methodists, Calvinists, Congregationalists, Baptists and many, many others - most of which still exist and flourish today.

Many Protestant congregations have been commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in many ways throughout this year and will continue to do so over the next few months.

One local example, for instance, is Bethlehem Lutheran Church, which will be presenting a television program by renowned travel expert Rick Steves on the Historical Background of the Reformation at the church on Sunday evening November 26th at 7 p.m.

The bottom line is - for all of us who consider ourselves Protestants - whatever your denomination - the event being commemorated this year was very, very important, and should be acknowledged and observed as such.

End of Sermon, as they (we?) say.