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/ 25 October 2017

Westminster Abbey marks 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Westminster Abbey Reformation 500th

The Reformation movement which shook Europe and laid foundations for modern society began in 1517 – 500 years ago this autumn when Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses. This key moment in history will be marked by Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 31st October 2017, in partnership with the Council of Lutheran Churches, with a special service and a symposium: ‘Liberated by God’s Grace’ which will bring together leading academics to analyse the ongoing impact of the Reformation and its effect on subsequent generations, not only for the Church but for social order, identity and culture.

The service, held in partnership with the Council of Lutheran Churches, will be led by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Revd Dr John Hall. The Address will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby. A new anthem, commissioned for the occasion by Danish composer, Bent Sørensen, will be performed by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir.

The symposium, to take place in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, will be chaired by the Bishop of Kensington, The Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, with contributors: Professor David Crankshaw, King’s College, London; Professor Eamon Duffy, Magdalene College, Cambridge; The Rt Revd Dr Martin Lind, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain; Professor Robert Stern, Sheffield University; and Professor Alexandra Walsham, Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Very Revd Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster said:

“We are formed by our history. Events of the late 15th century and early 16th century, including the beginning of the Reformation in 1517, enabled the transformation of life in Europe and eventually beyond our own continent. But there was also violence and destruction and loss. As today we seek to draw our ever more networked and yet divided world into unity, we need to be reminded of the achievements of our forebears and the steps that brought us here, and resolve together to transform our world afresh through peace-building and reconciliation.”

The Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington and Chair of the symposium, said:

“Martin Luther, whose actions we are commemorating on the 31st, often wrote about how the gospel sets us free, yet binds us to one another. This symposium offers a wonderful opportunity to examine the contribution of the Reformation to Christian Theology and to European life. It should be a fascinating afternoon.”

The service and symposium at Westminster Abbey are part of a series of events taking place this year to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, organised by the Lutheran Council of Great Britain, known as the Council of Lutheran Churches (CLC).  Established in 1948, the Lutheran Council of Great Britain represents and co-ordinates the common work of ten different Lutheran churches that have congregations or chaplaincies in Great Britain.

The idea behind marking the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 in Great Britain is to promote the understanding of the significance of the Reformation for British society, the church and identity and consciousness of the Lutheran heritage. The CLC are working with a wide variety of partners, in other churches and beyond, including the German Embassy and a group of London churches under the banner “Still Reforming” who have organised an event per month, each hosted by churches of different traditions.

Abbey Service at 12 noon and Symposium at 2.30 pm on Tuesday 31st October 2017. Free Tickets for the service and symposium are available via the Abbey website.

For further information on the 500th anniversary webpages.


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