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Reformation anniversary celebration to feature former German bishop

Margot Kaessmann, special envoy, Evangelical Church in Germany; photo provided by Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church

Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis will host a pan-Lutheran event June 6 that is aimed at increasing awareness of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The 2013 theme is “Reformation and Tolerance.”

Speaker for the event will be Margot Kaessmann, Special Envoy of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The commemoration is part of the “Lutheran Decade” which began in 2008 and leads up to the 2017 anniversary of Martin Luther’s arrival at Wittenberg, Germany, according to the Rev. Arden Haug, pastor of Lake of the Isles congregation.

Today only about 15 percent of Wittenberg’s population identify as Christian.

Haug spent five years in Wittenberg as regional representative for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and another two years at the Wittenberg Center.

Haug says that Kaessmann is coming as a representative of the Protestant church in Germany. She will speak about the identity and historical roots of the Reformation. Her presentation is titled “The Reformed Church Ever Reforming — Challenges of the Reformation Jubilee 2017.” While in the Twin Cities area, she hopes to meet with leaders of Lutheran and Protestant denominations, with many of the latter also tracing their origins to the Reformation.

Kaessmann has served as the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover (Germany) and as chairperson of the EKD. In 2010 she accepted an appointment as a visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

Counting down from ten

Today only about 15 percent of Wittenberg’s population identify as Christian. Haug argues this is due to the impact of the Nazi era and its location behind the Iron Curtain, in the former East Germany where religious observance was difficult.

Haug hopes that the event will call attention to the approach of the 500th anniversary. He feels that many lay people aren’t fully engaged in the countdown and that some even think the event is already past. By attending the event, many Lutherans and others will experience the beauty of this historic church building overlooking Lake of the Isles and the neighborhood of stately homes on an early-summer evening.

The evening will also include a hymn sing with Jean Krinkle, Lake of the Isles organist, at the keyboards. Haug, who is relatively new at Lake of the Isles Church, expects that this musical festival will feature Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” as well as other hymns that focus on the Word of God.

Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church is located at 2020 West Lake of the Isles Parkway, Minneapolis, near the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Lake of the Isles Parkway. The event gets underway at 7:00 p.m. There is no charge for the event being sponsored by the congregation. Additional information is available by calling 612/377-5095 or checking the website: www.loti.org.

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