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Ecumenical events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Five hundred years ago this year, Martin Luther, German professor of theology, composer and Catholic priest made his 95 Theses known to the world. In doing so, he opened up for debate many of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and launched the Protestant Reformation which spread throughout Europe.

"Martin Luther’s struggle with God drove and defined his whole life. The question, 'How can I find a gracious God?' plagued him constantly. He found the gracious God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 'True theology and the knowledge of God are in the crucified Christ.'" (excerpt from From Conflict to Communion, foreward)
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation opens further the door for Lutherans and Catholics to undertake "a common journey of reconciliation. Now, in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past fifty years in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. Nor can we be resigned to the division and distance that our separation has created between us. We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another." (excerpt from Pope Francis' homily at a service in Sweden for the anniversary of the Reformation, Oct. 2016)  

Key Event

Join Bishop David Walkowiak & Bishop Craig A. Satterlee for Common Prayer for the Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation

Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.
at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew  (301 Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
The North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is working with the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids to plan this joint ecumenical observance in the style of the Common Prayer service held in Lund, Sweden. This event will highlight the 50 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans and the gifts of this collaboration.  An ecumenical choir will provide music for the service.
Rev. Craig Alan Satterlee is the bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 
Most Rev. David J. Walkowiak is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

Additional events around the diocese to mark the Reformation anniversary 

Stirring the World: German Printmaking in the Age of Luther

Sept. 5 - Oct. 14
 at Calvin College's Covenant Fine Arts Center (1795 Knollcrest Cir., Grand Rapids, MI 49546)
To mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, Stirring the World: German Printmaking in the Age of Luther presents a glimpse revealing some of the worries shared by early sixteenth-century Europeans.
Curated by Calvin Professor of Art History, Dr. Henry Luttikhuizen, Stirring the World contains over 70 works on paper, on loan from major institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the St. Louis Art Museum, among others. Programming includes an opening reception on Sept. 7 as well as exhibition lectures and workshops.

Ecumenical Conference: From Conflict to Communion (a half-day event in two sessions)

Saturday, Sept. 9, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
with Special Guest Speakers Dr. Karin Maag, Calvin College and Dr. Susan K. Wood, Marquette University
Cost: $15 per person
at the Catholic Information Center  (360 Division Ave. S. Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
Registration required.  Register by email at or call 616-459-7267.
This  half-day ecumenical conference will offer discussions about our Catholic-Lutheran relationship through history, ecumenical dialogue and the ongoing path to Christian unity.
Session 1 - 500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters with Dr. Karin Maag
Dr. Maag discusses why the Reformation mattered at the time, especially in the lives of ordinary Christian men and women, and what the enduring legacies of the Reformation are for the Christian church today.
Session 2— Moving Together from Conflict to Communion with Dr. Susan Wood 
As Lutherans and Catholics look back at 500 years of separation they also see new paths toward deepened mutual understanding and closer relations. Dr. Wood will discuss the shared narratives of our Christian history, of emphasizing and strengthening “what is held in common,” and of praying together. 
Dr. Karin Maag is the Director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and professor of history at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including most recently, Lifting Hearts to the Lord: Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva (Eerdmans, 2016).
Susan K. Wood, SCL, Ph.D., a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, is a professor of theology and Chair of the Department of Theology at Marquette University.  She has recently co-authored a new book with Timothy Wengert called, A Shared Spiritual Journey: Lutherans and Catholics Traveling Toward Unity (Paulist Press 2016).

Ecumenical Art Show

Oct. 2-31
at the Catholic Information Center (360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
During regular CIC hours: Mon – Thurs, 9a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
During October, the Catholic Information Center will be one of several sites participating in a 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Art Show. The exhibit celebrates the Catholic Lutheran commitment to making the unifying power of God’s love visible in this divided world. Artists from Aquinas, Calvin, Kendall, and other area colleges, along with local Catholic and Christian High Schools will be invited to share their art work that communicates the theme “Renewed in Word, Faith and Grace.” The exhibit will be open during regular CIC business hours from October 2-31.

Martin Luther: Reformer of Church and Society

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 7-8:30 p.m.
presented by Dr. Kurt K. Hendel and Dr. Philip D.V. Krey
at Trinity Lutheran Church (2700 Fulton St. E, Grand Rapids, MI 49506)
Pre-registration is not required.
Martin Luther's reforms addressed the church's teachings and practices as well as the societal realities of the sixteenth century. Learn more about Luther’s insights, subsequent social reforms and how the Reformation became one of the most far-reaching events in world history.
Dr. Kurt K. Hendel is the Bernard, Fischer, Westberg Distinguished Ministry Professor Emeritus of Reformation History at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  He is the author of Johannes Bugenhagen: Selected Writings.
Dr. Philip D. V. Krey is the former President of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He is the co-author of The Catholic Luther, published by Paulist Press. 

What Can Catholics and Protestants Learn from One Another Today? A Conversation Upon the Occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Thursday, Oct. 5
7 p.m.
at the Calvin College Chapel (1835 Knollcrest Cir. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546)
Hope College Professor and Saint Benedict Institute Executive Director Dr. Jared Ortiz will join Bishop David J. Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids; Dr. Karin Maag of Calvin College; and Dr. Ronald Feenstra of Calvin Theological Seminary to discuss Catholic-Protestant relations on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Is the Catholic Counter-Reformation Over? (Reformation 500 Holland lecture series)

Sunday, Oct. 8
7 p.m.
at Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church (14 W. 14th St., Holland, MI 49423)
The Saint Benedict Institute is co-sponsoring Dr. Eduardo Echeverria’s talk, “Is the Catholic Counter-Reformation Over?,” part of the Reformation 500 Holland lecture series. Dr. Echeverria is a professor of philosophy and theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit.

Catholic Lutheran Dialogue

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Guest Speakers: Rev. Brian Daley, SJ  and Dr. Kathryn Johnson
at the Catholic Information Center (360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids, MI 49503)
Please pre-register by email at or call 616-459-7267
Father Daley and Dr. Johnson will be discussing the issues and agreements reached in a recent ecumenical task force dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans. As members of this task force, “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist”, they are uniquely qualified to talk about the 32 consensus statements that came out of the task force as well as remaining differences and suggesting ways forward to greater unity.
Rev. Brian E. Daley, SJ, is a Jesuit priest.  He is currently the Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and was the recipient of a Ratzinger Prize for Theology in 2012.  He has been involved in the North American Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue since 1981, and was recently part of the ecumenical commission that created the Lutheran-Catholic document, “Declaration on the Way.”
Dr. Kathryn Johnson has been director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America church wide office since 2015.  She has worked also at the Lutheran World Federation office in Geneva and as a church historian at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Note: Programs listed above through the Catholic Information Center are co-sponsored by the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, the Catholic Information Center, Christ Lutheran Church, the Diocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Grand Rapids Lutheran Conference, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, and Trinity Lutheran Church.