According to tradition, a German priest named Martin Luther nailed a list of grievances on the door of a church in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517 – starting the Protestant Reformation.
Many scholars doubt the story about Luther and the nailing of the 95 Theses to the church door, but there is no question that Luther’s new way of looking at the church and Christian teaching impacted the world. The Lutheran Church eventually broke from its Catholic parentage, and Anglicanism and many other new denominations followed.
Amrei Gold, head of North American public relations for the German National Tourist Office in New York, noted that this coming Tuesday, Oct. 31 is “the official anniversary date of the Reformation.”
Luther “started a movement that changed the world,” said Samuel Jeske from Faith Lutheran Church. “This year marks the 500th anniversary of that Reformation – the movement which reminded the world that God’s grace is truly free.”
In Coweta County and the the nearby area, Lutherans – and Christians from many other traditions – are looking back to the pivotal events of 1517. Several area worship services will remember the 500th anniversary in some way this coming Sunday, the Sunday closest to the actual anniversary.
At Resurrection Lutheran Church, worshippers are being encouraged to wear red as a remembrance of the day. Also, Resurrection members will be traveling to LaGrange for a 500th anniversary service on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Advent Lutheran Church, 1416 Vernon Road.
Resurrection’s choir has been asked to sing a joint choir anthem in the service with Advent's choir.
There will be a focus on the anniversary at the 11 a.m. service Sunday at Lovejoy Memorial United Methodist Church, 60 East Washington St. References to the 500th will also be made at Luthersville United Methodist Church at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and at Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Lone Oak at 11.
Festival Worship services on Sunday will mark the milestone at Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City. The sanctuary choir and The Christ Our Shepherd Brass will present the premiere of an anthem by composer/organist William A. Pasch, “Forth from Wittenberg Resounding” at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Sunday.
Those musicians along with Joyful Noise Ringers will also accompany the Hymn of the Day, Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Festive worship in contemporary style will also take place in fellowship hall at 10:50 a.m.
“Word of God Lutheran Church in Peachtree City and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville will hold a combined worship service on Sunday,” Sandy Thomas of Word of God said.
The service will be held at Prince of Peace, 257 Highway 314, Fayetteville at 10 a.m. “Beginning at 9:30, there will be a pre-service concert of church music through 500 years,” Thomas said.
“Children are asked to participate in the offering by donating 95 coins brought in a baggie. The baggies will be collected during the children's sermon,” Thomas said. All money collected during the joint service will benefit the North American Lutheran Church’s Hurricane Disaster Response Fund.
“All worshippers are encouraged to wear red that day,” Thomas said.
Central Baptist Church has been focusing on the Reformation on Wednesdays for several weeks. On Oct. 11, Dr. Pam Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, spoke at Central.
Durso previously was associate executive director-treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society. She also served on the faculty of Campbell University Divinity School as assistant professor of church history and Baptist heritage.
Currently, Durso serves as adjunct faculty member at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta.
On Oct. 1, Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peachtree City held a Lovefeast in Moravian Tradition. “The Moravian Church reinstituted the Lovefeast in 1727, bringing back the practice of the early church,” said David Beecher, minister of music.
Simple food is featured at a Lovefeast. Apple juice and cookies baked in the shape of Martin Luther’s profile were served at Christ Our Shepherd.
There also was a service at Christ Our Shepherd featuring “not only rich traditions of Lutheran worship but also the bonds Lutherans share with other churches and cultures,” Beecher said.
Beecher said Christ Our Shepherd has been celebrating the 500th anniversary all year. On Oct. 8, Christ Our Shepherd welcomed The OK Factor, an alternative-folk duo. Founded in 2012, the Minneapolis-based musicians are Karla Dietmeyer Colahan, violin, and Olivia Hahn Dierks, cello.
“Much of their music is original. They have completed their fourth album together,” Beecher said. “They have just completed a six-month residency for Minnesota Public Radio as Class Notes Artists.”
Faith Lutheran Church, 575 Fischer Road, will hold its Reformation 500 Festival on Nov. 5. The day begins with a worship service followed by a festive celebration. Food, games, a bounce house, contests, live music and horse rides are planned, Jeske said.
Worship services will be at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be at 11:30 a.m., and the festival will start at noon.