Reformation Celebration

In all my thirty-five years of association with CSP, I have never been part of a worship experience on our campus like the one held yesterday, October 29.  Nearly 2,500 worshippers – including five-hundred choristers, instrumentalists, dancers, and actors – filled the Gangelhoff Center for a celebration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was awesome, overwhelming, simply magnificent.

This festival worship was the culmination of a series of events which have been part of our university’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, traditionally dated October 31, 1517.  For the past four years, a Reformation Heritage Lecture series facilitated by Dr. Rhoda Schuler of the Department of Theology and Ministry has primed us for this celebratory year.  Two years ago, Concordia’s Office of Alumni Affairs organized a Concordia-sponsored trip to Reformation sites in Germany and Prague.  From October 30, 2016, through January 15, 2017, Concordia University was a Community Partner sponsor of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts display Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation.

This semester we have observed the anniversary with convocations, concerts, the dedication of Reformation Tower, an exhibit of original Reformation-themed artwork in the Concordia Gallery, a production of John Osborne’s Luther in the Pearson Theater, a poster display and display of rare books in the Library Technology Center, and yesterday’s service under the theme Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.

The worship service was the product of hundreds of volunteers offering thousands of hours of prayer, planning, and production over a two-year period.  Among the volunteers were nearly two-hundred CSP students, faculty and staff.  The Minnesota North and Minnesota South Districts of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and Concordia University St. Paul, jointly sponsored and funded the event.  The Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, was the homilist.

Though we view last week’s activities as the culmination of our Reformation anniversary observance, we are not done yet.  Morning chapels on the first day of the work week will continue to be “What Does This Mean” Mondays  through the remaining months of the semester, as CSP faculty and staff zero in on various aspects of the Reformation.  Our last in the five-year Reformation Heritage Lecture series will feature the Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb, CSP alumnus and former faculty member, speaking on the topic Living as a Christian – Wittenberg Style on Thursday, February 8, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. im the Graebner Memorial Chapel.  Ms. Jacquelyn Magnuson (CSP staff) and Ms. Sara Sorenson (CSP alumna) will present an organ recital featuring Hymns of the Reformation, on February 18, 2018, in the Buetow Music Auditorium.

I want to personally thank all who offered their time, talent, and energy to the celebratory events of this commemorative year.  We rejoice in the good gifts of our gracious God, especially the gift of himself in the person of his Son Jesus Christ.  Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good!

Tom Ries



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