Movie A Return to Grace premieres

On Feb. 15, almost 800 people attended the premiere of A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy, a new feature-length film that explores the life of Martin Luther and his quest for truth.

Three congregations—Mount Olive, Appleton, Wis.; Holy Word, Austin, Tex.; and Peace, Mankato, Minn. (an Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregation)—served as pilot locations, hosting screenings in local movie theaters for their congregation and community.

“Our congregation is looking at this year and next year as a way to key in on what it means to be a Lutheran,” says Jasper Sellnow, one of the pastors at Mount Olive. “This movie is a good way to start this conversation.”

The movie also provides opportunities for local community outreach. “It gave a lot of our members something to invite their friends to that was less intimidating than inviting them to church,” says Don Patterson, pastor at Holy Word. “The presentation is so clear that anyone who comes finds that it’s all about Jesus and his grace.”

Funding from Thrivent Financial made it possible to produce the movie. Learn more about the film and hosting a screening at

5 lesser-known facts attendees learned about the man Martin Luther

  • He suffered from depression.
  • He was estranged from his father.
  • He and his wife, Katie, had six children, two of whom died at young ages.
  • He advocated for training girls as well as boys, bringing reform in education.
  • He was a prolific writer. A large percentage of the literature printed on the new printing presses was his writings, making Luther a local celebrity.

5 takeaways from the movie

“Every Lutheran should see this film to understand where we came from and to see how one man was willing to stand up for what he believed in.”—Leslie Granberg, teacher at Immanuel, Greenville, Wis.

“It was a real pleasure to see our own WELS pastors sharing our history and God’s grace for us on the screen. It reminded me that God’s Word really is our great heritage and made me proud to be part of a church that clings to it.”—Adam Gould, member at Holy Word

“I like how this movie re-centered my focus on things above—it’s not my words or actions exactly, but what I can do to spread God’s truth in my little reaches of the world. I may not be breaking away from a national religion or translating the Bible for an entire language, but God has me in my life where I need to be to reach who he wants me to reach!”—Ashley Crane, member at Holy Word

“The film features so many things about Luther you don’t get in books—his bout with depression and the way in which he aged, the way his father’s death impacted him. It was very insightful.”—Joel Zank, pastor at Mount Olive

“It was fantastic . . . really well done. One of the things I really appreciated was my daughter is ex-Catholic, and after she watched the film I had the chance to talk to her about all the things Luther taught us.”—Brian Zuberbier, member of Mount Olive


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Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017

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