Niagara Lutheran churches planning celebration of 500th anniversary

Lutheran churches across the Niagara region are planning a series of celebration events to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran church in 2017. 

The events are designed to appeal to all ages and interests within the Lutheran community as well as the general public and will feature renowned speakers and musicians from across the country.

The series is being planned and coordinated by leaders of Grace Lutheran Church in LaSalle; St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Wheatfield; St. Mark Lutheran Church, St. Matthew Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church in North Tonawanda; Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tonawanda; and Trinity Lutheran Church in Lockport.

Throughout the series, a book club organized by Rev. Alan Bauch of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lockport will read four books a year that capture the essence of Lutheran theology. The next book is Martin Luther's treatise from the year 1520, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church.  The next meeting of the club will review the book on April 3, 2017 at 7:00 PM at St. John Lutheran Church, 6950 Ward Road, North Tonawanda.

St. Mark kicked off the series with a hymn festival on November 13, 2016. This singing event featured Paul Soulek, organist and composer at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Seward, Nebraska.

Holy Ghost will host the Concordia University Chicago’s Wind Symphony “Reformation Tour” on Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 PM.

This will also be the venue for the Lutheran Master Works Vesper on Sunday, April 23 at 2:00 PM. The service will include music by Bach and Telemann, conducted by Robert Duerr, a North Tonawanda native, minister, organist and founder of the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra.

Immanuel is working to arrange for an English performance at Immanuel or other nearby venue of PlayLuther, a popular musical play on the life and work of Martin Luther in Germany by Lukas Ullrich and Till Florian Beyerbach.

St. Matthew will hold a youth servant event day along with an evening band concert.

St. John will present the program, “Planting Gospel Seeds While Serving Human Needs.” This program was developed by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to help congregations identify the most critical, unmet and under-served needs in their community. 

Congregations will use this information to plan ministries that build closer relationships with their neighbors and help them become vital, growing churches. The program will feature Rev. Carlos Hernandez, Director, Church and Community Engagement at the LCMS in St. Louis, Missouri.

Grace will present the movie “Luther,” a 2003 biopic about the life of Martin Luther, the 16th-century priest who led the Christian Reformation. The film stars Joseph Fiennes and Peter Ustinov in his last film role before his death.

The series will conclude with a speaker event and banquet at St. Paul. Speakers will include Dr. Cameron MacKenzie, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne Indiana, Dr. Mark Schuler, Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, Rev. Dr. John Nunes, Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, Dr. Daniel Zager, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York and Rev. Andrew J. Abraham, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Tonawanda, New York. The medieval themed banquet will feature renaissance style performances by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Financial support of the series will be gratefully accepted as will donations of “frequent flyer” airline and hotel points for the use of out of town speakers and performers.

The series will be promoted via a multi-media campaign in the Niagara region, including outdoor advertising and direct mail as well as a web site that is currently under development. For more information please call or email David Werth at 731-7183 or