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Learning from Luther

Monday 2nd October 2017

Learning from Luther

Almost 100 people have celebrated a momentous event that defined the Church across the world.

The 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation when Martin Luther challenged the power of the Catholic Church to which he belonged was marked at a conference at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, during the weekend (October1/September30).

Martin Luther, a 34-year-old German monk, nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on 31 October 1517.

The significant anniversary is being marked around the world and, in Suffolk, the Church of England held a conference.

Bishop Martin said ‘‘This monk embarked on a course of action that was to change the culture and character of Europe in ways modern politicians can only dream of.  Luther was essentially challenging the power of the Church to which he belonged. He was claiming that it was not by following laws or doing good that people went to heaven, but by their faith alone.  ‘That idea, giving importance to the individual and their faith, and asserting the freedom of the individual’s conscience, sent shock waves through the religious and political world of Luther’s day. This momentous event changed the shape of the Church in England as well as Germany and across the world.”

The celebrations to mark the anniversary in Suffolk began with a conference at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds at which the guest speakers were Pastor Kathrin Oxen, the Director of the Institute for Preaching and Homiletics in Wittenberg, and Professor Ian McFarland, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and himself a Lutheran.

Kathrin Oxen then preached at a Lutheran Vespers service in the cathedral. The symposium was organised in conjunction with the German-speaking Lutheran Church in East Anglia, and their pastors, Oliver Fischer and Susanne Kremer.

The celebrations continued on Sunday at the cathedral where Kathrin Oxen preached powerfully about the personal insight Luther received about God’s unconditional grace that changed his life and the life of the Church.

Picture caption, from left to right: Pastor Susanne Kremer, co-pastor of the German-Speaking Lutheran Church of East Anglia, Professor Ian McFarland, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, Pastor Kathrin Oxen from Wittenberg, me, Pastor Oliver Fischer, co-pastor of the German-Speaking Lutheran Church of East Anglia.

Picture by Keith Minden