Tag Archives: Bishop Shelley Wickstrom

500th Anniversary of Luther Nailing 95 Theses to Church Door in Wittenburg is Today

On this day 500 years ago, Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar in Wittenburg, Saxony nailed 95 Theses, or arguments, against the sale of indulgences to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg. Indulgences were being sold in the area. The purchase of indulgences essentially granted sinners forgiveness of sins, freeing them from purgatory. Luther pressed the argument that salvation is free to all as a result of the sacrifice of Christ.

Luther’s action, influenced by reformers John Wycliff and Jan Hus, created a Reformation movement that rapidly spread across Europe. This gave rise to Protestants, or those who protested against certain practices of the Catholic church.  Luther wanted to reform the church, but created a separate religion, Lutheranism, when he found that to be impossible. Many other reformers rose up after this period, creating other main religions of today.

Luther’s movement and others in the reformation emphasized the key essentials of Christianity: faith alone (soia fides), grace alone (sola gratia), Christ alone (solus Christus).

Luther from painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Modern Protestantism is deeply in debt to the early church, Catholic and Orthodox, especially with regard to the teaching and writings of early church fathers which helped to develop the essential doctrines most Christian religions observe today.  It’s all too easy to be impelled to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Luther first wanted to reform the Catholic church, but when that became impossible, he created a purer religion than was being observed at the time.

A modern day heresy, the prosperity gospel, is being called out for the error that it is by too few. In my opinion, it is just as dangerous as the sale of indulgences was during the time of the reformers.

My heart was warmed by the joint service between Catholics and Lutherans last Sunday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral.  I’m planning to share some of the aspects of that service in an upcoming column.  The main takeaway was that Christians need to emphasize their unity rather than where they disagree.

Chris Thompson
churchvisits@gmail.com

 

 

Catholics and Lutherans Commemorate 500th Year of the Reformation This Sunday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral

Too often, denominations fiercely defend their theological differences rather than celebrate their agreement regarding items of faith.  This coming Sunday, October 29, Archbishop Etienne of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, and Bishop Shelley Wickstrom of the Alaska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) will come together to preach at a service commemorating the 500th anniversary of the reformation.  They will be using a liturgy first used under the leadership of Pope Francis and Lutheran World Federation General Secretary Martin Junge in Sweden last October. In so doing, they will be join others around the world in sharing in this commemoration.

This special service will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe co-cathedral on Wisconsin Street, Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m.

Last year the Vatican released a statement regarding these special worldwide commemoration services. “In 2017, Lutheran and Catholic Christians will commemorate together the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. Lutherans and Catholics today enjoy a growth in mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect. They have come to acknowledge that more unites than divides them: above all, common faith in the Triune God and the revelation in Jesus Christ, as well as recognition of the basic truths of the doctrine of justification.” Source — http://www.vatican.va/

In commenting about the Lutheran perspective on this service, Bishop Shelley Wickstrom said, “Our shared commemoration reflects a deepening conviction that because of Christ, what unites us is stronger than what divides us.  The liturgy we use in this commemoration is one being used around the world by Roman Catholics and Lutherans and first used by Pope Francis and members of the Lutheran World Federation in Oslo. It includes statements of how we have not been charitable to each other.  There are Lutherans who grew up hearing they should not date Catholics (or Norwegians, Swedes,…) The same is true for Catholics in regard to Protestants.”  (I’m sure many of us can recall hearing similar statements as this. Growing up Protestant, I heard them in my home.)
“This shared commemoration”, continued Bishop Shelley, “also acknowledges the differences that remain between our two traditions. My prayer is that our common prayer and confession will open hearts and minds to what God would have us do in Christ’s name for the sake of the future God prefers for us all.”
Following the service, a reception will be held in the adjoining Lunney Center.
I wonder, if there were more commemorations like this, whether some of the divisiveness so prevalent in our current society might be ameliorated. I look forward to attending this special service.
Chris Thompson
churchvisits@gmail.com

2017 Wieland Hunger Print Now Available!

“Lord of the Dance” 2017 Hunger Print

There are a number of exciting projects individual churches or their members sponsor. Last year, I was excited to discover the Hunger prints by Marianne Wieland, local Alaskan artist. Now in its 38th year, it has provided approximately $300,000 to help combat world hunger.

My ADN column on this project is at http://www.churchvisits.com/2016/09/for-nearly-40-years-an-anchorage-artist-with-the-help-of-her-church-has-used-her-work-to-fight-world-hunger/. Each year Marianne donates art materials, her studio’s equipment, while her volunteers, working under her direction, donate their time to help her produce copies of this limited edition print.

Marianne shared her inspiration for this years’ print. “Pastor Mark began the inspiration with the comment that in the village, there was nothing more enjoyed than to have song and dance in the worship service,” she said. “Development of the image began with the soapstone carving of a native dancer presented to me by Bishop Shelly at the Wasilla Council meeting last year,” she continued, noting “The title came when Jan Whitefield sang Lord of the Dance at our Christmas service.” Wieland gave appropriate production credit to her team by identifying them as “dedicated and talented volunteers: Margie Paulson, Linda Bender, Marilyn Martinson, JoAnne Mueller and Karen Voris.”

“The print, Lord Of the Dance, is offered with the hope,” artist Wieland concludes, “that it will bring to the viewer the joyful spirit of the village Christians.”

Inspiration for 2017 Hunger Print

Bishop Shelley Wickstrom of the Alaska Synod of the ELCA, offering additional background on the soapstone carving that provided Marianne’s inspiration of this years’ print, said “The synod gives a soapstone carving by Eric Tepton III to our honorees and keynote presenters.  In delightful serendipity, this soapstone dancer has the pose that Marianne used in a print “Women of Joy” that she made for the Alaska Synodical Women’s Organization in the 90’s.”

 

The 2017 hunger print is limited to approximately 250 individually signed and numbered prints. Each print comes shrink-wrapped on mat board and makes an ideal gift. You may order your print directly from Gloria Dei Lutheran using the attached order form.  The beauty of this project is that 100% of the price of the print goes directly to address world hunger. 2017 Hunger Print Order Form

Thank you for your vision and hard work Marianne!  It’s an inspiration to me and many others.