Is Your Church Marking #Reformation500?

On the season debut of The Pietist Schoolman Podcast last week, we were looking at prior Reformation anniversaries when Sam asked a really good question about the 500th anniversary of that event: “Do you think in 2017 in America, this is going to break through into popular culture?” Probably not, I said on the fly, unless “you have a certain level of devotion to Christianity.”

But on further reflection… I wonder if I should delete even the religious qualifier.

No doubt, #Reformation500 is a big deal in Germany. And among scholars who study the Reformation, its legacy, and its commemoration.

Luther bust in Eisleben
Bust of Martin Luther at the Luther birth house in Lutherstadt Eisleben – Creative Commons (Con2tto)

And Lutherans in this country seem to be using the anniversary to prompt a wide array of activities. Google “Reformation500” and the first page of results will take you to sites sponsored by Lutheran denominations (ELCA, Missouri Synod, and Wisconsin Synod), colleges and seminaries, publishers, or periodicals. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find lots of individual Lutheran congregations finding ways to mark the anniversary as well.

But what of churches not so directly descended from Luther, but no less influenced by the changes he unleashed?

Apart from marking Reformation Day on the Sunday closest to October 31st — which we always do — I’m not sure that my own church has paid any significant attention to the anniversary. (Instead, we’re in the middle of a sermon series on spiritual gifts.)

So I’m curious what my readers have and haven’t seen in their churches. Please answer the poll question below — and if your church is doing something special for #Reformation500, please describe it in the comments. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Is Your Church Marking #Reformation500?

  1. Very interesting post! It is intriguing to see how the traditions differ her – I have grown up in a German protestant household, so Luther and Oct 31 as Reformation Day have always been a thing to me. As you have noted, Reformation500 is indeed a big deal in Germany. Oct 31 has even been declared a federal public holiday this year. Most Protestant churches and many public institutions have special events scheduled or have already conducted something, and the federation of Protestant churches is commemorating with a series of events from Oct 31, 2016 to Oct 31, 2017.

  2. I had no idea Reformation Sunday or Reformation Day was a thing until I went to graduate school. While the school itself is Catholic, many of the grad students in my program are VERY Calvinist and took particular glee in pointing out that it was Reformation Day every year. I’m sure it was never mentioned in the Church of the Brethren I grew up in, and the Mennonites I was around had an awkward relationship with most other Reformation groups, so they didn’t celebrate it either. I think I may have heard a mention of the 500th Anniversary at the Methodist church I currently go to, but it certainly hasn’t been a big deal.

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