Celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation continued on Wednesday, with presentations that highlighted Reformation history as well as shared materials and ways for congregations and individuals to celebrate the Reformation.
Rev. Michael Herbst, vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (ELFK) in Germany, shared more about the history of our sister church and how the EFLK continues to reach out in the land of the Reformation.
Rev. John Braun, chairman of the Reformation 500 Committee, reported on available Reformation 500 resources, including Bible studies and a children’s film taken from the popular Martin Luther film, A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy. He highlighted that the committee’s goals are to educate members on our Lutheran heritage but also to use the interest in the anniversary as a way to reach out into local communities. Learn more about these resources and special Reformation events at wels.net/reformation500.
Congregations around the synod have been sponsoring viewings of A Return to Grace as one way to educate members and reach out. Delegates were treated to a special viewing of the film on Wednesday evening, which included a question and answer period with the film’s executive producer, Mr. Steve Boettcher, and author of the companion book Luther’s Protest, Rev. John Braun. Learn more about the movie in tomorrow’s issue of “Together.”
To celebrate the anniversary, the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) decided to prepare a new “Ninety-five Theses for the 21st century.” Fifteen pastors from around the world put together the document, which was approved by the CELC at its triennial convention in Grimma, Germany, this past summer. “The nature of these theses is very different than Luther’s original ones,” says Prof. Thomas Nass, one of the men leading the development of the theses. “It’s really the basic teachings of the Lutheran faith organized according to the Small Catechism. I think it’s what every Lutheran layperson should know.”
A video of confessional Lutherans from around the world reading some of these theses was shown to delegates Wednesday afternoon. A full video presentation of these theses will be posted online as well as streamed on Oct. 31, 2017, to give confessional Lutherans around the world an opportunity to celebrate our shared beliefs. Learn more about the CELC at celc.info.
Finally, special common chests were built by Mr. Kevin Kopplin, a member of Lord of Life, DeForest, Wis., to show how Lutherans financed their needs following the separation from the Roman Church during Martin Luther’s time. “Members deposited their offerings into the chest and elected a group of directors to manage the funds,” says Rev. John Braun. “Our world is different now. Doctrine hasn’t changed, and we still collect money to carry out the work of proclaiming the gospel and helping others. But now, banks, checks, electronic giving, and combination safes are what’s common. The common chest may have disappeared, but the idea is a part of our collections, budgets, and treasurer’s reports.”
To commemorate the Reformation anniversary, the chests were used to collect the offering from the opening worship service as well as special gifts from delegates for the three Lutheran church bodies with whom WELS declared fellowship during this convention.
View all the articles in the full issue.
WELS churches and schools featured in their local media.