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.

  • Ongoing – Bulletin inserts & readily-sharable social media posts featuring Reformation #historyfacts countdown weeks up to Reformation Sunday.
  • September, October & November – “Reformation at 500” observances at American University. Listing available as pdf.
  • Daily through Sun. Oct. 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. – “Uncertain Times: Martin Luther’s Remedies for the Soul,” an art exhibit at Walter Art Museum in Baltimore, Md. More at .
  • October 29, 2017 – Annual synod-hosted REFORMATION SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE, at Washington National Cathedral
    • Worship begins at 4 p.m. We will share Holy Communion, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton will preach, and Roanoke College Choir will sing. Full details on Reformation Sunday Worship page.
    • Those wishing to park buses at the Cathedral must contact Dosha at
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017 – Looking Back & Called Forward: ELCA 500, at Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill in D.C. and livestreamed
    • Join ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as she co-hosts a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Bishop Graham, Metro D.C. Synod; Bishop Bill Gafkjen, Indiana-Kentucky Synod; and Bill Horne, ELCA Vice President; bearing public witness to Christ who frees us to love and serve our neighbor as we look to the future to which God is calling us. Details from .
    • Reserve a spot to attend on a first-come-first-served basis from
    • All can access the livestream.
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
  • May 30-June 1, 2017 – “Luther and the Shaping of 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 brought 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.
    • Learn more about an evening concert in conjunction with this conference below.
  • May 31, 7:30 p.m. – “The Musical Heritage of the Reformation at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill
    • Open to all, this musical event is planned in conjunction with the “Luther and the Shaping of the Catholic Tradition” conference and will include a brief ecumenical prayer service and reception.tPaul Leavitt, the Reformation Church choir and others will perform in this celebration of organ and choir music.
  • October 22, 7 p.m. – “Holy Spirit Mass: Together in Hope” concert, presented by the National Lutheran Choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • Among opportunities and responsibilities on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, “none is more important than addressing the relationship between Lutherans and their Jewish neighbors,” wrote Bishop Richard Graham to synod rostered ministers (7/6/17). Encouraging conversation between our congregations and local Jewish synagogues “so that we can say clearly that we find Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish writings regrettable and wrong,” a document called “Lutheran-Jewish Relations, Dialogue and Partnership: Guidelines from the Metro D.C. Synod” (pdf file) was produced. “Please study it. Please share it. If you have the chance, share it with a Jewish person, too,” he encourages.

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.