Remembering and witnessing together

The "Big Shoes of Luther" is the name of a commemorative site in Worms honoring the reformer Martin Luther. Photo: Foto Eichfelder
The "Big Shoes of Luther" is the name of a commemorative site in Worms honoring the reformer Martin Luther. Photo: Foto Eichfelder

Churches in Germany mark 500th anniversary of the Diet of Worms

(LWI) – In April 1521 Martin Luther was summoned by Emperor Charles V to a diet in the city of Worms. There he refused to renounce his teachings and was subsequently declared an outlaw. In a new booklet marking the 500th anniversary of the Diet of Worms, General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge reflects on this event. The past cannot be changed, Junge remarks. “But we are asking: what does it mean for us today?”  

The thematic booklet, published by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) to mark the occasion, is titled “Liberating conscience. Taking a stance. Trusting God” (Gewissen befreien. Haltung zeigen. Gott vertrauen). In his article General Secretary Junge notes that the period 500 years ago was marked by “theological creativity and deep tensions.” However, today’s perspective should be “not one of division, but unity.” Taking our baptism seriously “means to live as branches on the one vine, Jesus Christ, to embody that powerful, prophetic announcement of healing and unity in our wounded world,” he added. 

Junge points to the journey of the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church through more than five decades of ecumenical dialogue. “We are on the way from conflict to communion.” This journey has special significance in view of the year 2030, Junge writes. That year will mark the 500th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana), a cornerstone confessional document of Lutheranism. Already the Joint Lutheran-Catholic Reformation Commemoration in Lund in 2016 “signifies more than anything else this new dynamic in the relationship between the LWF as a global communion of Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church.” 

Five hundred years after the Diet of Worms, Lutherans and Catholics remember and are at the same time “open to the future, sustained by the many achievements of ecumenical dialogue, and remaining receptive to God’s ongoing work,” Junge affirms. God, he writes, continues to invite the church to witness to the reconciliation accomplished in Jesus Christ. “We want to remember and witness together.” 

By LWF/A. Weyermüller