Just months before his death this spring, our friend Pepper Martin celebrated his 75th wedding anniversary with his lifelong sweetheart, Nina. They married around the time our country entered World War II. Isn’t that amazing? Did you know that our church will turn 186 this year? Yep. We were constituted when Andrew Jackson was President, halfway between the American Revolution and the Civil War.
Anniversaries help put the long train of history in perspective. Consider one more: On October 31st the world will observe the 500th anniversary of the religious protest that started the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door. I say “the world” because it affected change far beyond Christendom and into every area of life. Not all of it was good. Terrible decades of war resulted, for one thing, but it produced a fresh way of being Christian through a flurry of new free-thinking denominations like us Baptists.
These days, the theological arguments that brought us into conflict are far less heated. Both Catholicism and Protestantism have reformed themselves many times over in the intervening years and now seek common ground wherever possible. Pope Francis has even attended a Protestant observance of the Reformation as a sign of goodwill. We have member families and a senior pastor who manage to hold aspects of both traditions close to their hearts.
Like the pretty girl at the dance, it is important for us to remember “who brung us,” and this historic anniversary is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to shake off the dust of those ideals that have shaped and served us so well these 500 years. Because of this, our MidWeek Fellowship series this September will be about five ideals without which we wouldn’t be who we are, and it will culminate in a big celebration on Sunday, October 29, with renowned historian Bill Leonard as our guest proclaimer.
To kick it off, John Tirro will be our special musical guest on Wednesday, September 6: the composer of the lovely “To You All Hearts are Open” hymn we’ve been singing and many, many more. Besides being a great songwriter, John is, appropriately enough, a Lutheran pastor! Come, bring a friend, and let’s spend time singing, praying and celebrating our freedom in Christ together!