Faith Matters

Rediscovering the Reformation

Presbyterian Moderator Dr Noble McNeely said there were wonderful reasons to celebrate the Reformation

THE 500th anniversary of the Reformation is to be marked by the Presbyterian Church with three public events across Ireland this month.

'Faith at the Crossroads: Rediscovering the Reformation' will be held in Dublin on October 17 and repeated in Derry and Belfast on the following consecutive nights. They are free and open to all.

Presbyterian Moderator Dr Noble McNeely said that the special worship services would celebrate the Reformation's impact, legacy and enduring importance.

"As a Church and as Presbyterians, we have a rich heritage that comes directly out of the Reformation and the reformed, or Protestant tradition," he said.

"While this in itself is one significant reason to mark what Martin Luther did in 1517, there are also deeper and more profound reasons to give thanks."

October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, an act which is widely regarded as triggering the start of the Reformation, as the Protestant schism from the Roman Catholic Church became known.

Dr McNeely explained that at the heart of the Reformation was "Luther's momentous discovery that a person's salvation - that is, being made right with God as if we had never sinned - was secured by simply believing in Jesus' sacrifice on the cross".

"Salvation wasn't achieved by doing good works, or by any other means, but trusting in Jesus' death and God's grace alone," he said.

" As a result, this enabled men, women and children to know their sins had actually been forgiven - wonderful reasons to celebrate."

Rev Damien Burke, minister of Drogheda Presbyterian Church, one of 97 Presbyterian congregations in the Republic, is one of organisers of the Reformation events.

"In looking at how to commemorate this significant event in European and church history, we wanted to combine worship and discussion with a sense of reflection as well," he said.

"'Faith at the Crossroads' isn't a lecture, but a celebratory event that combines these three elements."

New Irish Arts will lead worship and Dr Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia, "will bring us a global perspective of the Reformation," said Rev Burke.

"During the evening a panel will reflect on some of the key aspects and legacy of the Reformation, its emphasis on personal reading of scripture and freedom of conscience for example, and how it sowed the seeds of democracy and religious freedom in Western Europe," he said.

:: 'Faith at the Crossroads: Rediscovering the Reformation' takes place at 7.30pm on: October 17 in Abbey Presbyterian Church in Dublin; October 18 at the Waterside Theatre in Derry; and October 19 in Assembly Buildings, Belfast on 19th October.

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