During the coming two years, as a Lutheran, you are a part of something exciting! We in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod will observe a double anniversary.
During this year, world-wide observances will be made of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Lutheran Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and pounded the nails through the theses that began the Lutheran Reformation. Luther wished to continue the teaching of historic Christianity, that forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation are found only By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, and In Scripture Alone.
This year also commemorates the start of another significant anniversary. One hundred years ago, in 1917 at the time of the 400th anniversary of the Reformation, the Norwegian Synod merged with other Lutheran church bodies on a basis which compromised the teaching of “by grace alone.” A faithful few wanted “to continue in the old doctrine and practice” of our Lutheran forebears and, in 1918, meet at the Lime Creek Lutheran Church in northern Iowa to reorganize the synod. In 1957, the name of the synod was changed to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS).
During these next two years, you can experience both the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation and the 100th anniversary of the reorganization of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. A number of special events are being planned, including two commemorative issues of the Lutheran Sentinel, a special essay and hymn festival at this year’s synod convention, and another special essay and a choral union concert at the 2018 synod convention. The Committee on Worship is planning regional hymn festivals. The Doctrine Committee has prepared a special Bible study for congregational use this fall centering on issues that affected both the Reformation and the reorganization of the ELS. In addition, a hard-bound centennial history will be published. This anniversary book, Proclaim His Wonders: A Pictorial History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, will contain many historical photographs. The ELS Historical Society also will make available a commemorative medallion featuring the anniversary logo. Additional resources can be accessed through the synod’s website:
As we celebrate these anniversaries and look to the future, along with Martin Luther, we will Proclaim the Wonders God Has Done as we “give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, and make known among the nations what He has done” (Psalm 105:1).
Reverend Craig A. Ferkenstad
Chairman, Centennial Committee
Evangelical Lutheran Synod