Word Up Wednesday Worship returns to St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Marlborough for three sessions at 7 pm on October 9, 16, and 23. Worshipers will reflect on the Reformation, which marks its 502nd anniversary in October.
The Reformation is known as the period of history begun with Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany on October 31, 1517. At the time, the Catholic Church was selling “indulgences,” or certificates forgiving sin, to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther opposed this, and his 95 Theses ignited a movement claiming God’s forgiveness was given freely. Some say the Reformation changed not only Christianity and culture, but ushered in the modern age in countless ways.
More than 500 years later, Reformation has become much more than simply a period in history; it is a core value of the Lutheran community. Much of the Lutheran movement gathers around the conviction that the church is “always reforming." In October, those who attend Word Up will examine three “Modern Reformations.”
On October 9 at 7 pm, the topic will be the Second Vatican Council and how this season of change for the Roman Catholic Church changed Lutherans, too. The October 16 session will celebrate the role of women in ministry. On October 23, those gathered will look at changes in the understanding of gender and sexuality, particularly unfolding welcome to the LGBTQ community.
Worship will be led by Pastor Joseph Graumann. “While some religions pride themselves on exclusivity, Lutherans affirm that Jesus welcomes everyone,” he said. “Our church commits itself to change for the sake of greater inclusion.”
St. Stephen Lutheran Church was filled with people and music as the worship service on September 29 began with the blessing of the Woodberry and Harris pipe organ, a gift of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church. Used for the first time at a St. Stephen Sunday service last week, the 1892 tracker organ served other congregations in the greater Boston area for many years.
Mt. Olivet purchased the organ in 1981, and had it rebuilt using a combination of professionals from the Andover Organ Company and church volunteers. It served the Shrewsbury congregation from 1982 until earlier this year when the church closed and offered the instrument to SSLC. Once again, John and Fay Morlock from Andover Organ Company were involved, this time “primarily taking the organ apart and putting it back together,” John said, with the addition of manufacturing some new parts and modifying older parts. To change the pitch, he modified the pedal mechanism, moved the trackers that play the pipes, added a pipe and moved notes to add one at the bottom. The Morlocks, as well as many former parishioners from Mt. Olivet, attended Sunday’s service.
Music included hymns, a choir anthem, and a postlude that showcased both the range of the organ and the skill and enthusiasm of music director Stan Hanson. Members of both the voice and handbell choirs participated. Stan says the organ “is exquisitely voiced to lead our worship services and interpret organ music from all periods. For a small tracker instrument, there are sufficient tonal resources to accompany congregational singing and interpret some of the ‘grand’ music composed for the organ,” he added.