500 trees bearing fruit worldwide

(From left) Sebastian Bugs, Sophie Bimmermann and Lasse Schmidt-Klie, members of the GNC/LWF Youth Committee planted the final tree in Wittenberg’s Luthergarten on Reformation Day. Photo: GNC/LWF / Florian Hübner
A tree symbolizing the ongoing Reformation of the churches: (from left) Sebastian Bugs, Sophie Bimmermann and Lasse Schmidt-Klie, members of the GNC/LWF Youth Committee planted the final tree in Wittenberg’s Luthergarten on Reformation Day. Photo: GNC/LWF / Florian Hübner

Final trees planted in the Luther Garden on Reformation Day

(LWI) - On 31 October, Reformation Day, the planting of the park known as Luther Garden in Wittenberg was officially concluded with a symbolic ceremony when the last twelve trees were planted. This brings the number of trees planted planted by churches and congregations to 500. The first trees were planted in 2009.

The last tree planted in the Luther Garden was a winter lime tree (linden – tilia cordata) with an oval crown. It was planted on behalf of the German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation (GNC/LWF), which initiated the project. Three young people from the GNC/LWF planted the tree. Next to the tree they placed a sign with Bible verses:

O God, from my youth you have taught me

   and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So even to old age and gray hairs,

   O God, do not forsake me,

until I proclaim your might

   to all the generations to come. (Psalm 71:17-18).

The ongoing Reformation must include young people

The young people linked the planting with a passionate appeal for an effective participation of youth in the church. “This participation makes an important contribution to keeping the Reformation going and enabling young people to bring in new ideas,” said LWF Council member Lasse Schmidt-Klie. “What has long since been understood in the LWF and guaranteed by quotas is far from being a matter of course everywhere in Germany,” noted Sebastian Bugs, chair of the Youth Committee of the GNC/LWF. Sophie Bimmermann, representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, concluded with reference to Luthergarten: “The garden reminds us of how Luther fought for church renewal. Like Luther, we are called upon not to stand still.”

Youth participation makes an important contribution to keeping the Reformation going and enabling young people to bring in new ideas
LWF Council member Lasse Schmidt-Klie

A symbol of the international bonds between churches

“The Luther Garden is a living monument to the Reformation,” emphasized Inken Wöhlbrand, director of the LWF Center in Wittenberg. “It will continue to have a distinctive character: it will be home to the people of Wittenberg, an attraction for visitors, and for everyone a sign of Wittenberg’s links with the world and the bonds between all the denominations.”

Besides the tree for the GNC/LWF eleven other trees were planted, including from churches and organizations from the United States of America, Tanzania, Iraq, Czech Republic and Italy. Each church will plant a partner tree at home. Wöhlbrand explained: “Luthergarten is not just a park in Wittenberg. "It is connected to hundreds of parks and trees worldwide, with new ones being added every month. What a wonderful sign of unity between the churches!"

Fruits from Luthergarten

The tree-planting was followed by a reception at which Inken Wöhlbrand, on behalf of the LWF Center, extended gratitude to the City of Wittenberg and its local partners for their good cooperation in the Luthergarten project.

The fruits of the Luther Garden were then presented, not only in the figurative sense. The Philipp Melanchthon School offered a taste of Luther Garden jam, which they had made from the harvest of its fruit-trees – apples, plums and mirabelle plums. The presence of the LWF in Wittenberg after the 2017 reformation anniversary is important said Wöhlbrand. “With the Luther Garden we are firmly rooted in this town.”