A Celebration that Goes Beyond Churches of the Reformation
GENEVA, 11 November 2011 (LWI) – A special committee that will guide The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) preparations for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 will hold its first meeting 14-15 November in Budapest, Hungary.
At the meeting, taking place prior to the LWF Meeting of Officers, the “Luther 2017: 500 Years of Reformation” committee will reflect on a framework that will help set the strategic directions, themes and possible fields of program implementation for the anniversary and be the basis for program planning for the LWF Communion Office.
The nine-person committee is chaired by Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, former president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, and includes members from all the seven LWF regions, respecting the requirement for gender, youth, lay and ordained representation.
“We go into this first meeting with great excitement and anticipation about the task ahead for the 2017 anniversary commemorations. We have so far identified three marks for the LWF’s approach to the anniversary: Lutheran reformation is today a global citizen; we want to remain ecumenically engaged and accountable; and we want to explore what it means to be churches standing under the transforming power of the gospel,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge.
“This committee in its global composition will support us significantly in designing the concrete processes and plans to express these three commitments,” he added.
For committee chairperson Altmann, the events surrounding the Reformation anniversary “will only be faithful to the spirit of the Reformation if they do not limit themselves to celebrations, but also offer a chance for a renewed reflection, both purposeful and self-critical, about the meaning of the Reformation yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
He said the planned celebrations and events should reflect the developments of the Reformation in various contexts of the globe, as well as in the ecumenical relations of the churches of the Reformation.
“The Committee certainly will take these challenges on its agenda and will encourage local and regional events, coordinating with them and forwarding proposals to the LWF Council,” added Altmann, who is also Moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
The “Luther 2017” committee will also discuss initial feedback to an LWF survey this year to assess the events planned in the member churches. Responses received so far indicate there is a wide array of 500th anniversary celebrations already taking place around the world.
Churches and theological institutions have plans for lectures, building dedications, musical performances, artwork, books, tours and souvenirs. There are also plans for ecumenical programs and there will be interfaith events with particular focus on Jewish and Muslim communities centered on Luther’s engagement with those traditions.
The committee includes three members from the LWF Meeting of Officers–Ms Colleen E. Cunningham (South Africa), Bishop Dr Tamás Fabiny (Hungary) and National Bishop Susan C. Johnson (Canada). Others are LWF Council members Mr Warime Guti (Papua New Guinea), Ms Mikka McCracken (USA) and Rev. Dr Bernd Oberdorfer (Germany); and also Rev. Dr Cristina Grenholm (Sweden) and former Bishop Nicholas Tai (Hong Kong, China).
The committee is tasked to present a report to the LWF Council in 2013. (544 words)