2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and commemorations are taking place all over the world. Historians credit the start of the Reformation to German monk and university lecturer Martin Luther, who famously posted his “Ninety-five Theses”on the church door in Wittenberg. No one expected the results – religious, cultural, and political upheaval that many say changed the world – or the breadth of evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed.
Although church division was a result of the 1517 actions, in 2017, unity is a focus of celebrations, with an excellent example right here in Marlborough, Massachusetts. St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, and First Church Congregational, Marlborough, have formed a Reformation 500 committee and recently met to plan events.
Immaculate Conception pastor Father Marc Bishop noted that the churches are “emphasizing what we have in common, ‘One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.’”
The group chose Saturday, June 3, for the celebration. The day will begin with an ecumenical worship service at First Church, which will include the common prayer developed last year by The Lutheran World Federation and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in cooperation with a group of noted theologians, to mark the 500 years of the Reformation.
“After so many years of division in the church, celebrating in prayer and service together reflects this special community here in Marlborough, ” said St. Stephen pastor Joseph Graumann.
The day continues with an afternoon service project, spearheaded by First Church pastor Kazimierz Bern, whose “Feeding of the 500" alludes both to the 500th anniversary and (a portion of) Jesus’ miracle, and seeks to provide a healthy meal to local people in need, with donations from local restaurants and service by volunteers.
Activities will culminate with a concert at Immaculate Conception, featuring the voice choirs of all three churches and the bell choirs of two.
In addition to the pastors of the three churches, committee members include: Marybeth Gamber, Stan Hanson, Kathy Ireland, Steve Kotsopoulos, Ken LaPlante, Roger Mansen, Barbara Parente, Susan Pellerin, and Melanie Whapham. Ms. Whapham agreed to chair the committee, with support from Ms. Ireland.