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Three events to observe 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

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August 17, 2017

Martin Luther

Featured Speakers/Panelists

Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit

Abbot John Klassen, OSB

Kathryn Johnson

Kristin Colberg

Three events will be held in early September to observe the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 

Four organizations will co-sponsor “The Past as Prologue: The Reformation and the Future of Christian Dialogue,” from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, and repeated from 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, at Saint John’s Abbey and University Church and the Great Hall in Collegeville. 

Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph is also hosting a related event on Saturday, Sept. 9. “Here We Stand: Reforming Anew” will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gorecki Center, College of Saint Benedict.

Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on Oct. 31, 1517, marking the beginning of what has become known as the Protestant Reformation. 

‘The Past as Prologue’ on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10 

Each event will include a prayer, reception, opening reflection and panel discussion. Participants will mark the many contributions of the Protestant Reformation to Christian life and thought through conversation, prayer and hospitality. It will also call on participants to explore the future of Christian dialogue, relationships and unity.   

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, general secretary for the World Council of Churches, will deliver an opening reflection on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10. Tveit is a Lutheran pastor teacher and noted author, including his recent book, “The Truth We Owe Each Other: Mutual Accountability in the Ecumenical Movement.” He was a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute in 1999. 

Tveit will be joined by a distinguished panel of speakers who will respond to his reflection. The panelists include:

  • Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John's Abbey and active participant in ecumenical conversations including his leadership in Bridgefolk, a Catholic-Mennonite dialogue movement; 
  • Kathryn Johnson, Paul Tudor Jones Professor of Church History at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and director of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is a member of the current round of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, worked on the international dialogue study document “From Conflict to Communion” and on the U.S. task force for the “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist;” 
  • Kristin Colberg, professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University and School of Theology and Seminary, and a participant in the U.S. Catholic-Reformed bilateral dialogue team. 

The conversation will invite questions and comments from the audience to expand and deepen the discussion. Each evening will include prayer for Christian reconciliation and unity and social time to visit informally and with the speakers. 

Here’s a more detailed look at the events: 

Friday, Sept. 8, Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis. A welcome will be given by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at 6:30 p.m. An opening reflection, “The Past as Prologue: The Reformation and the Challenge of Religious Relation,” will be given by Tveit. A panel discussion will follow, concluded by an evening prayer for Christian unity led by Johan van Parys, Basilica of Saint Mary and Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. A reception wraps up the evening.

Sunday, Sept. 10, Saint John’s Abbey and University Church and the Great Hall. An Evening Prayer for Christian unity begins at 5 p.m. at the church. At 5:30 p.m., a reception will be held at the Great Hall.  During the reception, Bishop Donald Kettler of the Diocese of Saint Cloud and Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John’s University, will deliver welcoming remarks. An opening reflection, “The Past as Prologue: The Reformation and the Challenge of Religious Relation,” will be given by Tveit. A panel discussion will follow.

Registration is requested for the Sept. 10 event at Saint John’s. Registration for the Sept. 8 event at the Basilica is not necessary.

Both events are co-sponsored by the Collegeville Institute, Saint John’s Abbey, Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary and Saint John’s University.

‘Here We Stand’ on Sept. 9

Kathryn Johnson, Paul Tudor Jones Professor of Church History at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and director of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will deliver the keynote address on “What Difference Does This Anniversary Make?”

Johnson will lead participants in a day of prayer, song and dialogue of how humanity can move forward in mutual respect and ongoing formation.

Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey will deliver the response to Johnson’s address.

Bishop Donald Kettler of the Diocese of Saint Cloud and Bishop Jon Anderson of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA will open and close the day with prayer.

The event is co-sponsored by Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Collegeville Institute, Diocese of Saint Cloud, Saint John’s Abbey, Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in cooperation with the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA.

There is no fee to attend the event, but participants are asked to register. Registration includes a box lunch. A free-will offering will be accepted.