luther2017The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of what became known as the Reformation.

It has been almost 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in what is now Germany. No one expected the breadth of evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed. Nearly 500 years later, the results of this evangelical confidence in God’s forgiving and liberating Word are evident today in Christian communities of all types.


As local plans coalesce, look here for opportunities. The Luther image indicates an event in which the synod has some sponsorship.

  • Sat. Apr. 22, 7:30 p.m. – Potluck Supper with special guest Martin Luther (as portrayed by Jeff Jones), Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • Sat. May 6, 6:30 p.m.Luther Movie Night: BBC’s Martin Luther, Heretic (1983), Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • May 30-June 1, 2017 – “Martin Luther and the Catholic Tradition” conference, sponsored by the Metro D.C. Synod with Catholic University of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • This international event will bring to Washington D.C. a set of Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox speakers from all over the world to talk about the way that Luther’s revolution changed all of Christianity.
    • Expected Lutheran presenters include Dr. Kenneth G. Appold, James Hastings Nichols Associate Professor of Reformation History, Princeton Theological Seminary; the Rev. Dr. Timothy J Wengert, retired professor of church history, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; and the Rev. Dr. Eero Huovinen, former Bishop of Helsinki, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and former Vice President, Lutheran World Federation
    • Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is coming from the Vatican to present a survey of Lutheran-Catholic dialogues.
    • An evening concert is planned at Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill.
  • Sat. June 17, 6:30 p.m. – Joint Handbell Concert including an arrangement of A Mighty Fortress, Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • INTERNATIONAL: July 10-21, 201712 Day Tour of Reformation Sites,” hosted by the Revs. Beth Neubauer and Randy Neubauer, and the Rev. Joel Neubauer
    • Visit places visited by Martin Luther and reflect on ways other European cities factored into Reformation history
    • Contact the Rev. Beth Neubauer for more information at
    • Brochure (pdf file)
  • Sat. July 15, 6:30 p.m. – Luther Movie Night: Luther (2003) featuring Joseph Fiennes and Peter Ustinov, Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • Sat. Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m. – Potluck Supper with special guest Katie Luther (as portrayed by Cindy Swanson), Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • INTERNATIONAL: Sept. 18-28, 2017“Steps of Luther” trip, hosted by King of Kings Lutheran Church in Virginia
    • Visit the Rhine Valley, Eisenach, Erfurt, Eisleben, Wittenberg, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Augsburg and Munich.
    • Contact the Rev. Lynn Miller for more information at
  • Sat. Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m.- Lutherfest Dinner with German dishes and desserts styled after those available during Luther’s time, Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Md. RSVP if you wish to attend by emailing
  • October 22, 2017 – “Reformation Music Then and Now” concert, presented by the National Lutheran Choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • October 29, 2017 – Annual synod-hosted REFORMATION SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE, at Washington National Cathedral
    • Worship begins at 4 p.m. Additional plans in development.
Synod office souvenir from Bishop Graham's trip to Wittenberg

Synod office souvenir from Bishop Graham’s trip to Wittenberg


  • December 8, 2016 –Understanding Jesus means Understanding Judaism,” sponsored by the Metro D.C. Synod and Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
    • At the very beginning of our anniversary activities, we addressed a sad part of our heritage, the occasionally tragic relationship between Lutherans and Jews. In a day of study that included local rabbis, we relearned and reaffirmed what it means to say that Jesus was a Jew. Bishop Graham spoke of repudiation of Luther’s late, hateful anti-Jewish writings.
    • Presenter: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Congregations, members, synods and other institutions of the ELCA will be observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in a variety of events and activities.

“Freed and Renewed in Christ” is the theme used by the ELCA churchwide organization in its observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. “500 Years of God’s Grace in Action” is a tagline for the theme. Many resources can be found at

  • – The ELCA is facilitating sharing of news, events and resources to inspire conversation and participation in the 500th anniversary observance. Check out the website and FB/elca500.
  • Video: “Luther and the Reformation” – This one-hour presentation by Rick Steves is available to congregations for streaming from . Discussion questions are also prepared, especially helpful in groups. The video “is a wonderful resource for all of us – pastors and lay people alike – to better understand our Lutheran roots and help us in our continued journey of understanding the Gospel,” says the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop.
  • Luther Reading Challenge – An online community for reading and discussion of Luther’s theological writings as preparation for the Reformation anniversary is underway now through October 2017. Anyone can sign up for a free account and join the conversation.
  • Refo500Refo500 is an international platform for knowledge, expertise, ideas, products and events, specializing in the 500 year legacy of the Reformation. Worldwide partners include Protestant and Catholic organizations, churches, universities, museums, cities, publishers, and so on collaborating to tell the story of the Reformation.
  • Wittenberg Center – In Germany, a decade long series of events are leading to a jubilee celebration in 2017. This year’s focus is “Reformation – Image and Bible” and the media revolution this period ignited.