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Churches Mark 500th Anniversary of Christian Reformation

Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 13:56 (IST)

The Catholics and Lutherans have expressed the thirst for unity as they observed the 500th anniversary of Christian Reformation, a spiritual renewal to men and women from all social classes.

Kathryn Johnson, director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said on Oct. 31 at ELCA assembly, that spirit for unity was strong.

"The depth of yearning people expressed in our decision-making body, which is sixty percent lay people, caught us by surprise," she said.

"People want us to move forward on this, because it comes into their daily lives," she added.

On 31 Oct. 1517, Martin Luther Reformation published his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany, denouncing church abuses.

The Reformation pitted Roman Catholics and Protestants against each other for centuries.

But today Christians understand that the church must not longer be divided.

"For the first time in history, it is not the building up of barriers but reconciliation that is at the centre," said Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairperson of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

"We have taken steps toward each other, and do not want to go back again," Bedford-Strohm added.

Today, churches display a strong yearning for unity in the grassroots—the quest for Christian unity.

"For the first time in five centuries, we have been able to commemorate the Reformation ecumenically. We have together offered repentance for the divisions of the past and affirmed what we have in common in Jesus Christ," said Tveit, general secretary, World Council of Churches.

"This is a powerful symbol of our mutual accountability and one that has enormous potential for strengthening hope as we demonstrate a real willingness to repent, to change, to see what is wrong, and to contribute to changes and transformation toward just peace," Tveit added.