As we approach the landmark celebration of the Reformation, I wish to acknowledge and thank Newberry College for leading the way in coordinating and planning festivities in commemoration of Martin Luther’s historic nailing of the 95 Theses on the doors of the Wittenberg Chapel exactly 500 years ago.
“It is both right and fitting” that the center of this historic celebration should take place at the College. Luther was, after all, a professor of theology at Wittenberg when he posted the Theses which were written in defiance of the selling of indulgences and the corruption of the Church in 1517.
His topics were intended for debate in an academic setting. Re-enacting that historic moment is best suited in a collegiate location, which in the case of Newberry College, is not only a Lutheran college owned by the South Carolina, Southeastern, and Florida/Bahama Synods, but it is centrally located in the midst of the largest Lutheran population in the State.
Newberry County, undeniably, has a proud German and Lutheran heritage and rivals any other county in the country for the number of Lutheran churches located within its bounds. To quote my pastor, Pastor Matthew Titus of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, “There are more Lutherans in Newberry County than there are people.”
Reformation, however, is not just a Lutheran celebration. Like Newberry College, which was never intended for just Lutheran students, the Reformation extends far beyond theological, religious, or denominational lines. Martin Luther and the Reformation is a pivotal point in history impacting the course of Western civilization.
Being what has been described as “an imperfect man used by God in mighty ways,” Luther’s influence on public education and schooling for girls; his views on the value of liberal arts education; his utilization of the printing press as a best-selling author; his translation of the Bible into the language of the people; his encouragement of individual thought; his love of and inclusion of music; his elevation of the importance of all vocations whether farmer or priest; and even his direct and indirect impact on democracy have made him considered one of the most influential men in history.
For Lutherans, Reformation is somewhat akin to a “high holy day,” but not in veneration of Martin Luther, who reminded us that we were all sinners and saints, but as a reminder of the freeing Gift of God’s Grace. This is an especially significant anniversary Reformation celebration.
I look forward to the sea of red apparel, the voices joined in union signing “Amighty Fortress;” and the majesty and meaning of the occasion. Thank you, Newberry College, and for all involved in what promises to be a joyous spiritual and educational celebration.
Be on the lookout for the College’s schedule of events over the Reformation weekend. It will be evident that Newberry College is the place to be for the Reformation, and “this is most certainly true.”