Across the globe, Lutherans gathered to observe the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and many great celebrations happened right here in Virginia! From Pastors transforming into Martin Luther to musical celebrations, there were many ways that congregations in the Virginia Synod reflected upon our heritage, history, and the affirmation of our central theological convictions.
Fredericksburg Area Congregations
On Sunday, October 29th, worshipers in Fredericksburg enjoyed a combined worship service to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. The service was held at Dodd Auditorium on the campus of the University of Mary Mary Washington. The event was sponsored by The House: Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministry and organized by Christ Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Resurrection Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Stafford. The service included featured guest speaker Father Don Rooney and a combined choir from all three churches including Christ Lutheran Church’s Bell Choir.
Charlottesville Area Congregations
A musical celebration on Reformation Sunday was held at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Charlottesville, with a combined choir from St. Mark, Peace Lutheran Church in Charlottesville, Grace and Glory in Palmyra, and Immanuel Lutheran Church of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Thanks to the generosity of those in attendance, the congregations were able to send $477 to Lutheran Disaster Response. St. Mark also enjoyed the return of the Marty Party in October. Martin Luther visited the Children’s Moment, and the Sunday School made a paper chain with 500 links in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation!
Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City
Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City celebrated Reformation Sunday with a special service of Lutheran Hymns and biblical lessons. A German potluck luncheon followed with fun and games and lots of Luther references. There was a Luther Hymn Tree, the choir loft was decorated, and every member received a hand cut Luther Rose “snowflake” for their Chrismon/Christmas tree.
Bethel Lutheran Church in Winchester
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Winchester
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Winchester, has commemorated Reformation for the last year. Trees were planted in the spring, Luther hymns were sung, concerts rang out, and Luther’s writings were studied. The congregation commemorated the 500th of the Reformation with a beautiful beaded Luther rose ornament, children received Playmobil Luther, all received various books throughout the year and 54 participants went to the Reformation Day Festival Worship at the National Cathedral.
Peninsula Conference of the Virginia Synod
On Sunday, October 29th, the congregations and choirs of the Peninsula Conference gathered to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with a festival choral worship service. The conference joined together to mark the beginning of our next five hundred years of witness with anniversary liturgy from the LWF Global Commemoration of the Reformation in Windhoek, Namibia last May and with hymns, anthems and instruments reflecting the joy of the church. The combined voices from all the congregations present filled the sanctuary with a joyful noise, reflecting the faith we came together to observe. The choral anthem, a combination of 9th-century chant (Of the Father’s Love Begotten) and a South African freedom song (Thula Sizwe) was a true example of the vastness of our liturgical traditions begun so long ago and renewed with the teachings of the Reformation.
The congregations of the Peninsula Conference include: Apostles Lutheran Church in Gloucester, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hampton, Living Water Lutheran Church in Kilmarnock, Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norge, Reformation Lutheran Church in Newport News, St. Mark Lutheran Church in Yorktown, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Hampton, St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Newport News.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hampton
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hampton is located on Mercury Blvd, the busiest street in town. The congregation posted a Reformation Door outside the church with rotating phrases that speak to the spirit of how the past 500 years can help guide St. Paul’s in the future.
Williamsburg Area Congregations
First Lutheran Church in Portsmouth along with the three congregations in Portsmouth, Holy Communion Lutheran Church, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, and Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) celebrated the 500th Anniversary together with hymns, a skit and dinner. The celebration was held at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, October 21st.
Richmond Conference of the Virginia Synod
On All Saints Day, approximately 260 members of Lutheran congregations in the Richmond Conference and local Roman Catholic congregations came together to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation at Epiphany Lutheran in Richmond. The service was based upon the joint Lutheran World Federation (LWF) – Roman Catholic event with Pope Francis in Sweden last year. Youth groups met prior to the service for fun, fellowship, and of course, food. During the service, representative families and individuals signifying different segments of our faith communities read the “five ecumenical imperatives” for Roman Catholics and Lutherans and lit a candle. These imperatives were agreed to in “From Conflict and Communion,” a joint document of the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation.
First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Richmond
St. Philip’s Lutheran Church in Roanoke
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynchburg
Holy Trinity Lutheran and Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Lynchburg marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a joint Vespers service, including Liturgy of Thanksgiving, Repentance, Common Witness and Commitment, on Reformation Day, October 31, at Holy Trinity. The Reverend Msgr. J. Kenneth Rush, Jr., and Linda Contreras from Holy Cross participated in the service.
Tidewater Conference of the Virginia Synod
Tidewater Conference observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a joint worship service on October 29 at First Lutheran Church in Norfolk. Members of all the congregations participated in the service as worship leaders, communion assistants and in the choir. It was a festive, joyous occasion!
Grace Lutheran Church in Chesapeake
On Saturday, October 28th, Grace held a Multicultural Potluck before showing Rick Steve’s new documentary on Martin Luther & the Reformation. Attendees enjoyed a variety of dishes (not just Swedish & German)—all of which are part of the Lutheran Story. That night and again on Reformation Sunday, there was also a Reformation Photo Booth, at which participants were encouraged to finish the sentence “I’m Lutheran and…” with something about themselves that we might automatically associate with “Lutheran Culture.” The Lutheran Church has a rich story—both historically and presently—which is more diverse than we sometimes think to highlight…and the Holy Spirit is moving through it all!
Thank you to the many congregations who shared their photos and stories of how they shared the Reformation in their congregation and in their communities! Check out the hashtag #VA500 on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for more photos and stories shared from Virginia Synod congregations!