Hope Lutheran Church, Maryville, has been celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation throughout 2017.
The Reformation began when a young Augustine monk named Martin Luther posted his thoughts about theological topics and the practices of the Catholic Church to the door of a castle church in Wittenberg, Germany.
That simple action on October 31, 1517, began the Reformation, a movement that changed Western society. The ideas that Luther posted were meant to start a discussion among the scholars at the university. However, thanks to the newly-invented printing press, those ideas were distributed throughout the Holy Roman Empire.
Luther was threatened, exiled, condemned and labeled a heretic. But his teaching grew in popularity throughout his life and was the beginning of the Protestant church.
Most Protestant churches today trace their lineage, in some part, to the teachings of Luther. The German language exists as it does today in large part due to Luther’s translation of the New Testament.
Locally, the highlight of this 500th anniversary year will occur on Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, when members of Hope Lutheran Church, Maryville, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Mound City, will gather for a celebratory weekend. At 6 pm, October 14, a dinner featuring American and German fare will be served at the Maryville Community Center, 1407 North Country Club Drive, Maryville.
There will be musical entertainment as well as noted Luther scholars speaking. The Reverend Dr. Ken Schurb, Zion Lutheran Church, Moberly, and the Reverend Kim Scharff, Trinity Lutheran Church, Norborne, will give their insights on Luther’s life and his impact on the Christian church.
Tickets for this event are $12 for adults and children age 12 and under are free. Tickets will go on sale at both churches at the end of August.
At 3 pm, October 15, there will be a celebratory worship service in the new Holy Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, Mound City. In addition to Schurb and Scharff speaking, there will be a combined choir singing many of Luther’s hymns. Following the service will be a reception at the church. Free transportation from Maryville to Mound City will be available for those who would like to attend the service. For more information, contact the Hope Lutheran office at 931 South Main or 660.582.3262.
The Hope Lutheran Church started the celebration year by presenting each church household with a special Reformation symbol magnet so members would be reminded of this special church year.
Members have participated in Bible studies throughout the year that focused on the life of Luther and his writings. In June, the children of the congregation and their friends attended a Reformation-themed vacation Bible school entitled “A Mighty Fortress,” based on the title of a Luther hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
Bulletin inserts have reminded members of the ways Luther impacted church life and practice. In addition, the monthly newsletters distributed to all Hope members have featured articles about the various people who played a role in the Reformation. Copies of these newsletters can be seen at maryvillehope.org.
Upcoming activities include Hope’s annual Soup and Chili supper, which will be held Sunday, November 5, with have a Reformation flair, and a special celebration of Martin Luther’s birthday on Friday, November 10. The children’s Christmas program will also be based on one of Luther’s hymns, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.”
“Of course, much has changed since Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago,” Reformation celebration planning committee member Jean Memken said. “But many things we encounter daily were influenced by the Reformation. It was a return to God as the source of mankind’s salvation. It was a focus on God’s love.
“Five hundred years later, Lutherans still teach this theology and rejoice in God’s love,” she explained. “The members of Hope Lutheran Church continue this tradition of sharing God’s message of love as they celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that started it all.”