Reformation > 500

As part of the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, congregations, conferences and agencies are finding many ways to commemorate this world-changing event.

There will be worship services and educational programs, explorations of Lutheran music and culture and the contributions of Lutherans of color, and more.

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Now through November

Reformation Escape Room

Various dates and times | Trinity Lutheran Church, Quakertown

More info here. Challenge your youth or adult group to a fun test of wits at the Reformation Escape Room at Trinity Lutheran Church, Quakertown, running on select dates through November. The “escape room” is a series of live, interactive puzzles that your group needs to solve within an hour. Each leads to a new clue which, when combined with other clues, gets you closer to your final passcode to “escape” the room. The event isn’t scary, does not require Lutheran-specific knowledge, and is recommended for older teens and adults, not for children. 102 N. Hellertown Ave., Quakertown, PA 18951. Map.


October Reformation Month at Iron Hill Brew Pub

The Phoenixville Iron Hill is brewing two special Reformation beers: Katie’s Brew (Martin Luther’s wife was famous for her beer), and Heavenly Indulgence (the Catholic practice that set the whole thing off to begin with.) These special Reformation brews will be released on October 11th just in time for the first of five Give 20 events at the pub. On these days 20% of Iron Hill’s proceeds from the sale of food will be given to the Code Blue Shelter located at Ann’s Heart in the former Sacred Heart Church. In order for Code Blue to receive the donation, a Give 20 coupon must be presented to your server. The five Give 20 days are: OCTOBER 11, hosted by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; OCTOBER 16, hosted by St. John’s Lutheran Church; OCTOBER 23, hosted by St. Ann Roman Catholic Church; OCTOBER 25, hosted by Parkside United Church of Christ; and OCTOBER 30, hosted by the Code Blue Shelter. Coupons are available through St. John’s, any one of the host Churches or the Code Blue Shelter. 130 Bridge St, Phoenixville, PA 19460. Map.


October 20, 21, 22

“Welcome the People: the Musical Legacy of the Reformation”

On October 31, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther set in motion a spiritual movement that transformed sacred music. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band and the Twin Cities’ award-winning chorus, The Rose Ensemble, will guide listeners through the first formative century of the Reformation. In true Lutheran tradition, the audience will be invited to participate.
Luther, a great lover of “the unshackled art of music;” penned hymns like Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress), “the battle cry of the Reformation.” He believed that through music we could discover the “great and perfect wisdom of God.”
After calling the audience to attention with hammer blows, Piffaro and The Rose Ensemble will present music from the first generation of Lutheran composers, performed as the people would have heard it in that momentous era, on the instruments and in the style of the 16th century.
Playlist: Johann Walther, Stephan Mahu, Hans Leo Hassle, Michael Praetorius, Martin Luther, and a new fanfare by Philadelphia composer Kile Smith
  • Friday, October 20, 7:30 pm at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th St, Philadelphia
  • Saturday, October 21, 7:30 pm at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia
  • Sunday, October 22, 3 pm at Christ Church Christiana Hundred, 505 Buck Rd, Wilmington
  • Pre-concert talk with Matthew Glandorf, lecturer in Sacred Music at the Curtis Institute, one hour prior to each concert.
Tickets: $29 – $49, youth and full-time students free
Special ticket price for Lutheran parishioners: $20, code LUTHER.

October 21

Reformation Celebration Banner

From Conflict to Communion: Together in Hope:

9:30 am – 2 pm | Trinity Lutheran Church, Lansdale

Lutherans and Catholics will mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with an ecumenical seminar and worship. Speakers: The Rev. Donald McCoid and Dr. John Borelli, highlighting theological progress toward unity. Worship led by The Rev. Peter Donahue, president of Villanova University, and Bishop Claire Burkat. 1000 W. Main St., Lansdale, PA 19446. Map. Register.

“Layman’s Guide to the Reformation”

4 – 7 pm | St. John Lutheran Church, Blue Bell

A special dramatic presentation by Steve Seyfried about the life of Martin Luther. Mr. Seyfried describes his program as modeled after TED Talks and brings to life Martin Luther and the movement that changed the course of Western religion. Following the program, we will have a German-themed potluck. You may RSVP by signing up via the link. Register. 1802 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Map.

October 22

Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World

3:30 pm | Phoenixville Colonial Theater

Martin Luther triggered a seismic upheaval that rocked the western world in the 1500s—with an impact that continues to reverberate to this day. This film tells the great adventure story of his life. At the same time, it examines his quest for truth—questions we all must face—including “Who am I?” “What is my purpose” and “How do I get right with God?” Following the movie you are invited to join in a discussion in the Colonial’s new party room. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and 62+, $6 for children under 13. Tickets will be available at St. John’s, Phoenixville, beginning September 24th. There are only 170 seats, so get your tickets early.

October 26

“Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World”

7:30 pm | AMC Theater, Neshaminy Mall

More info here. Special theater screening of this new film. Sponsored by John Roesinger, Thrivent Financial. Information: 215-206-6061. 100 pre-sold tickets must be ordered in advance. Map.

October 27

Reformation Red Gala

6 – 11 pm | Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia

There will be food, dancing, silent auctions, prizes, and so much more. Proceeds from the Gala will go to support all the ministries of LCHC’s Stevens Community Center, including the shared blessings community meal, food cabinet, the Welcome Church, OurCloset Ministry and other programs. Tickets are available by calling the church office at 215-567-3668. More information can also be found on our website at under the announcements tab. Normal tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are $50. 2110 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA, 19103. Map.

“Layman’s Guide to the Reformation”

7 pm | Grace Lutheran Church, Wyndmoor
A presentation of stories, photos and historical insights by playwright and actor Steve Seyfried. In 2014, Steve traveled through eastern Germany, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther. In this presentation, he relives the journey that led him to a new understanding of this extraordinary man and the truly awesome effect Luther has had on the past 500 years. 801 E. Willow Grove Ave., Glenside, PA 19038. Map.

October 28

Lutherfest 500 Oct. 28 in Upper Bucks

11 am – 4 pm | St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Perkasie

Join the Upper Bucks Conference congregations for Lutherfest 500. Activities include a pig roast (12-2 pm), beer tasting, a “Mighty Fortress” cake walk, and more. (Donations will be gladly accepted for food and beverages.) There will be live music and games for all ages including Reformer Ring Toss, Blessing Booth, Nail the Theses on the Door, and more. Admission is free. Bring new children’s books to help the conference collect 500 books for local children. 21 Dill Ave., Perkasie, PA 18944. Map. Flier.

Ecumenical Service and People’s Choir

3 pm | Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia

Ecumenical Service commemorating 500 years of the reformation. All churches are invited. This service will lift up the strong history of music during the reformation. Our guest preacher will be the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Ollikainen from Trinity Lutheran Church in Perkasie, PA. After service at 4 p.m. we will hold a People’s Choir out on the front steps where all are invited to join our Music Director, and Director of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Joe Buches, in singing “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen. 2110 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA, 19103. Map.

October 29

“Layman’s Guide to the Reformation”

9:15 am | Advent Lutheran Church, West Chester

A presentation of stories, photos and historical insights by playwright and actor Steve Seyfried. In 2014, Steve traveled through eastern Germany, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther. In this presentation, he relives the journey that led him to a new understanding of this extraordinary man and the truly awesome effect Luther has had on the past 500 years. 1601 Green Lane, West Chester, PA 19382. Map.

Reformation 500 Worship

10 am | Trinity Lutheran Church, Fairview Village

Join us for a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. James K. Echols, past President of the Lutheran School of Theology at Theology and former dean at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.  A Reformation barbecue follows worship with a promised appearance by Brother Martin.  Visitors are welcome. 1190 Valley Forge Road, Fairview Village, PA  19409. Map.

Reformation 500 Worship

10:30 am | University Lutheran Church, Philadelphia

More info here. Join us on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 10:30 AM, as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Our guest preacher will be The Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop with musical guests The Fairmount Brass Quartet. Afterwards, we will enjoy a community dinner and a Reformation Table Talk with Dr. Lathrop. 3637 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Map.

“Layman’s Guide to the Reformation”

2 – 4 pm | St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Feasterville

In a unique one hour presentation, Steve Seyfried brings the saga of Martin Luther and the Reformation to life through an engaging, delightful bland of stories, graphics, and historical insights. Please plan to come whether you are a Lutheran or not. There will be refreshments afterward. 65 E. Street Road, Feasterville, PA 19053. Map.

Reformation Organ and Brass Concert

3 pm | St. James Lutheran Church, Pottstown
1101 E. High Street, Pottstown. Map.

Celebrating One Baptism in Christ

3 – 5 pm | Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

An Ecumenical Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Speakers: The Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop and Father Dennis Gill. Gather with Christians of all traditions as we celebrate our unity in Christ while heeding God’s call to renew the church. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Liturgical Institute. 238 S. 38th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Map. Poster.

Delaware Conference Reformation Celebration

3 pm | St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Springfield

Join us as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s call to Re-form the Church, and the ongoing work of the Lutheran community in this area.  We will note the founding date of each of our congregations as we move from 1517 into the future. Sr. Sally Kerr, preacher. Choirs from conference churches and Silver Springs-Martin Luther School. Clergy, deacons and choirs invited to process; color of the day is red. 400 Lynbrook Road, Springfield, PA 19064. Map. Flyer.

Soli Deo Gloria: 500 Years of Lutheran Music

4 pm | St. John’s Lutheran Church, Phoenixville

Michael Krentz, Dean of the Chapel at United Lutheran Seminary (Philadelphia Campus), will lead the concert of music for organ, brass, choir and congregation. The program will be in the form of a Lutheran “organ mass,” exploring the great hymns of the Lutheran tradition that allowed the congregation to be full participants in the mass. The program will include works by Dietrich Buxtehude, J. S. Bach, and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, plus contemporary composers, with commentary on the Lutheran tradition of singing and organ music. Following the concert a gala reception featuring fall treats and “Katie’s Brew” and “Heavenly Indulgences” from Iron Hill Brewery will be hosted by our Fellowship Committee.

Reformation Vespers Service

7:30 – 9 pm | St. John Lutheran Church, Blue Bell

An expanded setting of Evening Prayer with the inclusion of J. S. Bach’s Reformation Cantata “Ein feste Burg” with festival choir and orchestra. 1802 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Map.

October 31

Looking Back and Called Forward: ELCA500

9 – 11 am | Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington, DC

More info here. Please plan to join ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Tuesday, Oct. 31, as she co-hosts a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The event, which will include speakers and a service, will be at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill. Map. Register. The event, which will meet under the theme “Looking Back and Called Forward,” will be available online at:

November 1

ULS 2017 Luther Colloquy

8:30 am – 4 pm | United Lutheran Seminary, Gettysburg Campus

More info here. The 2017 Luther Colloquy brings together a group of top scholars and church leaders to explore the relationship of Luther and Lutherans to the Roman Catholic Church. Presentations will investigate historical interactions and understandings, and discuss possibilities for future cooperation and work toward unity. There will be an ecumenical worship service. 61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 17325. Map.


Featured Event 

Together in Hope – Lutherans, Catholics Commemorate Reformation in SEPA

Lutherans and Catholics will mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with an ecumenical seminar and worship on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10 am to 2 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale. 1517-2017, From Conflict to Communion – Together in Hope features a seminar with The Rev. Donald McCoid and Dr. John Borelli highlighting recent theological progress toward unity between Lutherans and Catholics. The Rev. Dr. Peter Donahue, president of Villanova University, and Bishop Claire Burkat will lead worship. Cost is $15 including lunch. Learn more at

ELCA Events (Nationwide)

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Selected Resources


To build anticipation and awareness of this 500th anniversary of the Reformation year, ready-to-use bulletin inserts with correlating Facebook, Twitter and blog posts will countdown the weeks leading up to Reformation Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. Brief history facts related to the reformation have been prepared by members of St. Mark’s Lutheran in Springfield, VA and have been prepared by the Metro DC Synod for distribution. (They’re catching on in Ohio, California and elsewhere, too!) Check it out from

Historical Essay on Martin Luther and Beer, in the Form of a Folk Song

Martin Lohrmann, Assistant Professor of Lutheran Confessions & Heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary and formerly pastor at Christ Ascension Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, has written and posted a well-researched song I wrote about Luther and beer. Its’ catchy chorus: “Martin Luther drank the beer that Katie Luther brewed.” Download the song and lyric sheet at Martin’s blog.

“Luther and the West” Free Online Course

Luther and the West Reformation courseNorthwestern University is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called “Luther and the West” as a resource for celebrating this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The course is taught by Christine Helmer, who is an internationally known Luther scholar, and Professor of Religious Studies and German at Northwestern University in Evanston, USA.

This course is about the impact that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, had on major ideas in the history of the west. You will encounter ideas such as freedom and slavery, biblical interpretation and anti-Judaism, politics and economics. In addition to Luther, you will meet important thinkers, such as Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, and Martin Luther King Jr. The course includes 36 video lectures by Professor Helmer, in addition to many texts by Luther and others that you can download for free. You can connect with other learners in discussing the course material.


Let’s Read the Small Catechism Together

What? With New Voices — the Small Catechism in the 21st Century is an invitation to all members of all ages to hear the catechism from new voices — voices that perhaps we did not hear in our earlier faith experiences — and to be renewed in our own voices as witnesses of Jesus Christ.

When? From August 2016 (the 2016 Churchwide Assembly) to Oct. 31, 2017, (the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation).

How? In a way that is most promising for your community of faith and most fitting for the relationships in your community. In particular, we encourage a congregation-wide engagement with the Small Catechism during the season of Lent in 2017.

Where? Resources will continue to be added to this site. We encourage you to check back often.

Why? The Small Catechism is a treasure too good for just early adolescence. With New Voices invites you into a fresh engagement with the Small Catechism as a way of turning to this world with renewed passion for proclaiming and embodying this promised hope from God.


Rick Steves’ “Luther and the Reformation”

Rick Steves Luther and ReformationRick Steves’ “Luther and the Reformation” is available for you to stream and share. This one-hour video is a wonderful resource to better understand our Lutheran roots and help us in our continued journey of understanding the gospel. Many thanks to Steves, who has generously given all members of the ELCA access to this video. DVD copies have been distributed to each congregation.

Planning a viewing party? Find promotional photos, discussion questions and sample fliers at

Watch now.


 Luther 500: A Layman’s Guide

Luther Layman ReformationIn 2014 Steve Seyfried, actor and playwright, traveled with Bishop Burkat and others to Germany on a tour of Lutherland, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther, through Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisenach and Eiseleben. Steve returned with a wealth of stories, insights and photos, and the desire to share this remarkable experience with others.

In a spirited one hour presentation, in the style of a TED Talk, Steve brings the story of the Reformation to life from the posting of the 95 Theses to the Peace of Augsburg that formally recognized the Lutheran Church.


View’s Collection of Resources

ELCA Resources

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Why is the Reformation still relevant?

The Lutheran Reformation offers to Christian communities everywhere a liberating way of listening to and speaking the Scriptures. The Reformation teaching that Christ’s life flows through faith into a life of service to the neighbor is especially liberating in our culture today. The Reformation teaching that faith is the work of God’s Holy Spirit is especially liberating in a culture that assumes a faith relationship with God is an act of human “free will.”

Many, both within Christian communities and beyond, are held captive by ideologies that limit the full scope of God’s mercy in Christ to demographic groups defined sociologically by certain beliefs, behaviors or experiences. The Reformation teaching that Christ’s life flows through faith into a life of service to the neighbor is especially liberating in a culture that makes religious life into a demonstration of one’s own worthiness and privilege to the disadvantage of others.

— Adapted from

The ELCA has created a special website,, with ideas, news, resources and stories of Reformation celebrations across the church. Visit this site often to see the latest.


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Updated: October 3, 2017