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“Everything that is done in this world is done by HOPE.”

― Martin Luther

In 2017 we observed the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!

We are acknowledging what Martin Luther did to spark the Reformation, revisiting the roots of our Lutheran beliefs and what those roots mean today for us and our engagement with others... 

Freed and Renewed in Christ”

is the theme used by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) churchwide organization in its observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation that began with the 95 theses that Martin Luther first made public on Oct. 31, 1517


Theologian (1483–1546)


Here are a couple of biographical articles on the life of Martin Luther.

BIOGRAPHY offers a less in depth easier read

BIBLEINFO takes you down Luther's path with description and detail

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD - (German: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott")

is one of the best known hymns by the reformer Martin Luther, a prolific hymnodist. Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529. It has been translated into English at least seventy times and also into many other languages. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46.

"A Mighty Fortress" is one of the best loved hymns of the Lutheran tradition and among Protestants more generally. It has been called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation" for the effect it had in increasing the support for the Reformers' cause

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Web Oct 2017

Wish to deepen your knowledge of Lutheran Theology? 


Based on an eight-week pilot course in Lutheran theology, which ran from October 2017 until the end of January 2018, the Lutheran World Federation is now offering access to an Online Theology Course video series.  It was initiated as part of LWF’s commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and developed by an international working group of theologians in conjunction with LWF’s Department for Theology and Public Witness.


The course was aimed at undergraduate students but also pastors and church workers who are interested in reflecting on different aspects of Lutheran theology. It was divided into eight week-long modules that included video lectures, compulsory readings and online and video tutorials.  The video lectures are now accessible to everybody.


The goal of this course is to ask good theological questions from a Lutheran perspective across diverse contexts. The relevance of education has been a hallmark of LWF since its founding in 1947.  It is rooted in Luther’s baptismal theology and understanding of the priesthood of all believers as well as his statement that the church must educate children to serve God and the world.

Lutheranworld.org - Web Feb 2018 © Copyright 2018 Lutheran World Federation

Using the ELCA as our guide we are providing you information directly from their website

What happened in the Reformation?


Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-Five Theses” in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517, and the resulting debate about Christian teaching and practice led to changes that have shaped the course of Western Christianity for almost 500 years. At the heart of these wide-reaching changes was a deep conviction that God’s mercy or grace in Jesus is given freely to all. When Luther and others learned to trust God’s mercy with “a living, daring confidence,” they discovered in that faith the freedom to give themselves generously, lovingly in all of life’s undertakings with everyone they met.


The changes began with a critical look at confession and forgiveness, preaching and the sacraments — what Luther called the “means of grace.” The sale of indulgences, the practice of penance, the content of preaching, the administration of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper — all the restrictions that impeded the message of God’s mercy from being heard and received fully by all came under close scrutiny. Repeatedly, Luther made changes and took initiatives to give full and free expression to the gospel, the message of God’s liberating mercy in Jesus Christ. He translated the Scriptures into German so that ordinary believers could hear the Word of God in their everyday language. He composed many hymns including “A Mighty Fortress” (based on Psalm 46) that put the Word of God to music, the language of the heart. He preached for the people in Wittenberg in simple, everyday terms, and he used those sermons as the basis for teaching resources that parents and local pastors could use — his Small and Large Catechisms.


Why is the Reformation still relevant?


The Lutheran Reformation offers to Christian communities everywhere a liberating way of listening to and speaking the Scriptures. The Reformation teaching that Christ’s life flows through faith into a life of service to the neighbor is especially liberating in our culture today.

The evangelical Lutheran Reformation offers the promise of God’s love that makes possible a life of “living, daring confidence in God’s grace.”

The Reformation teaching that faith is the work of God’s Holy Spirit is especially liberating in a culture that assumes a faith relationship with God is an act of human “free will.”

Many, both within Christian communities and beyond, are held captive by ideologies that limit the full scope of God’s mercy in Christ to demographic groups defined sociologically by certain beliefs, behaviors or experiences. The Reformation teaching that Christ’s life flows through faith into a life of service to the neighbor is especially liberating in a culture that makes religious life into a demonstration of one’s own worthiness and privilege to the disadvantage of others.


ELCA500.org/about -Web Oct 2107© 2017 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America




We use four words to describe the Lutheran movement: 

Evangelical, Catholic, Ecumenical and Reforming



Evangelical means centered in the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) chose to use this word in its name because it expresses the heart of Lutheran theology. (The term evangelicals is often used today to refer to conservative Christians, fundamentalists, and the “religious right.”)


“Justification by grace through faith” is a defining phrase for Lutherans


· Lutheran theology is centered in grace, God’s unconditional love for us.

· Justification refers to the way we are made right with God despite our sin and self-centeredness.

· The Church at the time of Martin Luther was corrupt in many ways and the medieval view at that time was that you earned salvation and your way to heaven through good works. Martin Luther taught that we are justified by grace, not works.

· Grace means that everything begins with God’s initiative.

· Our relationship with God is not determined by our good works, our behavior or our being holy and spiritual. Rather God loves and accepts us unconditionally. In baptism we receive the gift of God’s never-ending love.

· Our faith, our service and our good works are a response to God’s gracious initiative, not the way to earn it. Our whole lives are a response to what we receive in baptism.


Lutherans and the Bible

· Lutherans read the Bible through the lens of the gospel, the good news. The gospel is the message of forgiveness, freedom, new life, unconditional love and acceptance that we receive through Christ.

· Lutherans do not give equal weight to all of the Bible; Martin Luther taught that the proclamation of the gospel had ultimate authority.

· Lutherans define the Word of God first as Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. The Word is also the proclamation of the gospel (in preaching, sacraments and through word and deed).

· The Bible is the Word of God in that it bears witness to the gospel of Christ.



Lutherans are catholic (small “c”) — part of the universal Church through the ages and around the world.

In the Nicene Creed we say we believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Lutherans embrace the fullness of the Church’s tradition.

Lutherans claim to be part of the catholic (small “c”) Church rather than a separate sect.


To be catholic means:

· we share in share in common the central articulation of the Christian faith in the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds;

· we honor and share the scriptures as the authoritative source and norm for our proclamation;

· we celebrate the sacraments of baptism and holy communion;

· we use a liturgy with a basic form in common with Christians around the world and through the ages;

· we use a lectionary (cycle of scripture readings) in common with a majority of Christians around the world.


What makes it catholic?


Though many Protestants may have not observed these traditions in the centuries after the Reformation, many of these ancient practices are being reintroduced. Actually, many of these traditions are not just Roman Catholic, but are observed by Anglicans, Orthodox, many Lutherans and other Protestants.

Some catholic traditions include:

· stained-glass windows

· altar, cross and candles

· processions

· celebrating the seasons of the church year such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost

· seasonal traditions such as the Advent wreath, ashes on Ash Wednesday, a palm procession on Palm Sunday

· celebrating Holy Communion every Sunday

· wearing albs (white robes) and other vestments

· making the sign of the cross, bowing and kneeling

· chanting



Lutherans in the ELCA are committed to the oneness and unity we have in Jesus Christ.

We seek healing for the brokenness and divisions of the Church through history.

We strive for unity in order that our witness to the world will be stronger and more effective.

The ELCA is in full communion with these denominations:

· The Episcopal Church

· The Moravian Church

· Presbyterian Church, USA

· Reformed Church in America

· United Church in Christ

· United Methodist Church


Full communion means:

· a common confession of the Christian faith;

· mutual recognition of Baptism and a sharing of the Lord's Supper;

· allowing for joint worship and an exchange of members;

· mutual recognition and availability of ordained ministers to the service of all members of churches in full communion, subject only but always to the disciplinary regulations of the other churches;

· a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service;

· a means of decision making on critical issues of faith and life;

· a mutual lifting of any condemnations that exist between churches.


The ELCA is involved in ecumenical dialogues with these denominations:

Roman Catholic, Orthodox, African Methodist Episcopal, Mennonite; and inter-faith dialogue with Jews and Muslims.


Lutherans and Roman Catholics:

A joint statement by the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican removed the mutual condemnations of Lutherans and Roman Catholics in the 16th century over justification, and offers the possibility of greater unity between these churches.



Sometimes Lutheranism is defined as a “reforming movement” within the Church catholic.

In each age the gospel continues to challenge the Church to be faithful.

We are reforming because we continue to adapt traditions or social teachings in order that they will further the proclamation of the gospel.


Changes in worship over the past several decades:

· Ordination of women and women leading worship;

· Use of contemporary language (from “thou” to “you”);

· Use of inclusive language for people;

· Use of expansive language and metaphors for God;

· More leadership by lay people in the liturgy;

· Music from diverse styles and ethnic traditions;

· Recovering of catholic worship traditions


The ELCA seeks to be faithful to the GOSPEL while addressing the ever-changing contemporary situations in society.


The ELCA produces social statements as a prophetic voice to society on issues such as abortion, human sexuality, criminal justice, the death penalty, care of creation and economic injustice.

At the same time, there is a sense that individual members of the ELCA may come to different conclusions based on their own conscience and beliefs.


Sometimes positions of the Church change as society changes:

· the abolishment of slavery led to a commitment to civil rights;

· divorce became more accepted;

· as the role of women in society changed some denominations (including the ELCA) began ordaining women as pastors and bishops


ELCA.org -Web Oct 2017© 2017 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America