WORLD – While Lutherans across the globe in 2022 are celebrating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German, several member churches of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) are also marking other important anniversaries this year.
In 2022, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche – SELK) of Germany celebrated its 50th anniversary. The church formed on June 25, 1972—coinciding with the commemoration of the Augsburg Confession—when the majority of independent confessional Lutheran churches in Germany merged.
To mark the anniversary, SELK held a two-day event from June 25-26 on the campus of its seminary in Oberursel, with events including a panel discussion, children’s programming, workshops, concerts, and more. The celebration culminated with a festival service held at St. John’s Church on June 26, with the service also broadcast live online.
This year marks both the 500th anniversary of the Reformation’s arrival in Latvia as well as the 100th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (Latvijas Evaņģēliski luteriskā Baznīca – LELB). In 1522, the city of Riga—part of what was then called Livonia—became Lutheran when the reformer Andreas Knöpken arrived in the city as its first Lutheran pastor. A conference and festive service were held June 12 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Latvia. The event was held at St. Peter’s church, which only this year was returned to the LELB by the authorities to serve again as a dedicated church building.
The 100th anniversary of the LELB was marked a little over a month later on July 16. Like the previous event, this commemoration also began with a morning service at St. Peter’s Church in Riga, following which participants marched to the church’s cathedral. Events continued throughout the day at multiple locations, and included musical performances, children’s activities, a film presentation, and much more. The day concluded with a special anniversary service at the cathedral during which two new auxiliary bishops were consecrated.
As part of other anniversary events, the Latvian church is planting oak saplings at congregations and in other locations throughout the country. These saplings have been grown from the acorns of oak trees first planted by Ernst Glück more than 300 years ago. Glück was an important Lutheran theologian who translated the Bible into Latvian in 1694.
United States of America
In the United States, meanwhile, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is also commemorating an important anniversary in 2022: the 175th anniversary of its founding. On April 26, 2022—175 years to the day since its founding in 1847—the LCMS held a special service of thanksgiving at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The theme for the anniversary is “Only Jesus: No Other Name,” drawn from Acts 4:12.
The LCMS has also provided numerous resources and activities for congregations to celebrate the anniversary in local settings as well, including a special anniversary hymn, worship resources, Bible studies, an art contest for students, resources on LCMS history, and more.
The LCMS, LELB, and SELK are all member churches of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran churches.