Reformation Anniversary (1517 -
Reformation Roadmap visits England Tuesday 21 February
to Saturday 25 February
The Reformation Roadmap 'storymobile' visited England in
February 2017 with three cities in its itinerary: Liverpool
on Tuesday 21 February, Cambridge on Thursday 23 February and
London (Trafalgar Square) on Saturday 25 February.
A full day of events at Cambridge on 23 February included a
symposium at St Edward's Church on the theme 'Reformation then and
now', with a presentation from the former Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lord Williams of Oystermouth.
Information about this initiative as a whole can be found
here, with more details about what is happening in England
How the Reformation started in 1517: Martin Luther
challenges the church
On 31 October 1517 the protest of Martin Luther, Doctor of
Theology, against the practice of indulgences took expression in 95
Theses touching on questions of grace, repentance and forgiveness.
He announced his intention to defend his statements orally in that
place or by letter with those who could not be present.
Reaction from church leaders and scholars, at first on a small
scale, gathered momentum with lives changed radically in German
states and in many countries across Europe. Two years later, King
Henry VIII of England started to write his Defence of the Seven
Sacraments while he was reading Martin Luther's attack on
indulgences. Luther himself composed a reply to King Henry,
answered in turn by Thomas More. Although Luther's writings were
banned in England, a small group started to meet in Cambridge to
study them, along with other material emerging from the new
movement on the Continent. Many of them would become key figures in
the English Reformation.
The 500th anniversary of Luther's action provides a significant
opportunity for churches to
- strengthen relationships with one another
- deepen reconciliation between us, for the sake of our witness
to the gospel
- promote reflection on what reformation means for us today
The Ecumenical Commemoration hosted jointly by Roman Catholics
and Lutherans in Lund on 31 October 2016 and attended by Pope
Francis and the President of the Lutheran World Federation has put
the anniversary commemorations on the map internationally, and much
more will be happening in 2017 itself.
The Church of England, with its ecumenical partners, is involved
in a number of ways, some of which are listed below. Further
information can be found in many cases on the external websites
that are mentioned.
Statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and
On Tuesday 17 January the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
made a statement about the Reformation Anniversary. The Statement
can be read on their websites at:
Archbishop of Canterbury / Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of Canterbury is one of the Presidents of
Churches Together in England, whose joint statement on how to mark
the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation can be read on their website
Church of England Bishops talk about the
The Bishop of Truro on the call to be one.
The Bishop of Kensington on the rediscovery of God as a generous
giver, and the affirmation of the role of the laity.
The Bishop of Huddersfield on the centrality of grace, and the
relevance of the reformation to social and political life.
General Synod debate 13 February 2017
On Monday 13 February General Synod passed a motion in the
following form, on a motion moved by the Bishop of Coventry and
including an amendment moved by the Revd Angus MacLeay of
"That this Synod, in the context of the 500th
Anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation and the
Church of England's understanding of the doctrine of justification
as expressed in our historic formularies:
(a) Give thanks to God for the rich spiritual
blessings that the Reformation brought to the Church of England
(b) welcome signs of convergence between the
churches on the doctrine of salvation, noting Resolution 16.l7 of
the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 regarding the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and its relation to
the Helsinki Report and ARCIC II's Salvation and the Church;
(c) commend initiatives in this anniversary
year to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between
churches, for the sake of our deeper renewal in the grace of God
and our ability to share the gospel of salvation with all the
The General Synod will debate a motion about the Reformation
Anniversary at its session in London in February.
The briefing paper for the debate is available here.
Kirchentag May 2017
The 36th German Protestant Kirchentag will take place from 24 to
28 May 2017 in Berlin und Wittenberg. Reflecting on international
ecumenism, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, it will also look
ahead to the next 500 years of Protestantism. The theme of the 2017
Kirchentag is "You see me" (Gen 16:13) and will include over 2500
The website of the British Kirchentag Committee at www.kirchentag.org.uk has articles about the
evolution of the link between the Berlin Kirchentag and the
Reformation Commemorations in Wittenberg. The main Kirchentag
website is here.
Finale Tuesday 31 October 2017
The finale of the celebrations on Tuesday 31 October 2017 will
centre in England, on a service at Westminster Abbey, with church
leaders from many denominations in Britain and guests from other
countries. This will be followed by a symposium on the theme
"Liberated by Grace," featuring theologians, historians, and a
lively debate on contemporary resonances of the Reformation, in the
adjoining St Margaret's Church at 3pm.
The Council of Lutheran Churches in Great Britain is taking a
leading role in sponsoring and planning this event, as well as
other aspects of the Reformation Anniversary in this country. Their
dedicated website here.
Resources for the Reformation Anniversary prepared by the
Lutheran World Federation along with other information about global
commemoration can be found here.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are centrally involved
the Reformation Anniversary programme in the Four Nations. For more