A pivotal moment in European and church history will be marked at a special event in Londonderry next month.
As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches next month, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is to hold celebrations on consecutive nights in three different locations - the others are in Dublin and Belfast.
Entitled ‘Faith at the Crossroads: Rediscovering the Reformation’ the second of the public events will take place on October 18 at the Waterside Theatre. .
Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely explained: “As a Church and as Presbyterians, we have a rich heritage that comes directly out of the Reformation and the reformed, or Protestant tradition. While this in itself is one significant reason to mark what Martin Luther did in 1517, there are also deeper and more profound reasons to give thanks.
“For at the heart of what we know today as the Reformation is Luther’s momentous discovery that a person’s salvation, that is being made right with God as if we had never sinned, was secured by simply believing in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Salvation wasn’t achieved by doing good works, or by any other means, but trusting in Jesus’ death and God’s grace alone. As a result, this enabled men, women and children to know their sins had actually been forgiven - wonderful reasons to celebrate.”
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar, nailed a list of 95 short theological statements to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, to be debated within the local university. Known as his ‘95 Theses’, this simple act, which was critical of the religious order of the day, was to change the course of world history.
Rev. David Johnston, minister of Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor, County Down, who is leading the team organising the events, said that all would be very welcome.
“At our celebration in Londonderry we will have our former Moderator, Very Rev. Dr. Rob Craig of Kilfennan Presbyterian Church on the outskirts of the city on the panel, along with a church historian and a social commentator to discuss these and other issues.
“At each venue we are also looking forward to having New Irish Arts lead worship for us, which will include a new arrangement of one of Luther’s hymns. We also look forward to welcoming Dr. Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia, who will bring us a global perspective of the Reformation,” Rev. Johnston said.
During the celebration those attending will also get a flavour of some of the key moments in Martin Luther’s life from a 1983 film staring Jonathan Pryce as Luther.
The events being held by the church are free to attend and start at 7.30pm.