500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Always Reforming:

Nourished by the Past, Shaping the Future

On October 31, 1517, the German monk Martin Luther – renegade priest, riveting preacher, and revolutionary professor – invited public debate on a list of “95 Theses” critiquing the theology and practice of the church of his day. Luther’s challenge to his church led to sweeping religious, economic, and political changes throughout Europe, which together came to be known as the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation gave rise to numerous Christian denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), with which St. Olaf is affiliated. It also gave rise to a host of values and commitments both within and beyond Christian faith, including freedom of conscience, universal education, care for the poor, civil discourse, and the intrinsic worth of all persons. St. Olaf’s commitments to academic excellence, the critical examination of faith and values, the lifelong pursuit of vocation, and inclusive community all spring from this inheritance.

But the Reformation was not simply a series of events in human history, however seminal. Nor was it an unequivocal force for good; it also brought division, discrimination, and destruction. Reformation continues, challenging not only people of faith, but all people of goodwill to self-reflection, thoughtful critique, lively dialogue, and willingness to change.

St. Olaf celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by exploring the ways in which ongoing Reformation is transforming what people believe and how people behave in the twenty-first century. All events are free and open to the public, and most have been streamed. Links to previously-streamed talks and presentations are included below in the “Previous Events” sections for Fall 2017 and Spring 2017.

Previous Events – Fall 2017

Monday, December 11, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Jo Beld, Vice President for Mission, spoke in chapel

Thursday, December 7, 11:00 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel (11:00 a.m.) and Holland Hall 502 (3:45 p.m.).
Kathryn Lohre ’99, Executive Director for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations for the ELCA, spoke in chapel. At 3:45 p.m. in Holland 502, Kathryn spoke on Reconciliation: The Reformation Continues, with responses from St. Olaf students of different faith traditions. Prior to her current position, Kathryn served for eight years as the assistant director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project examining religious diversity in the United States. She has also served as President of the National Council of Churches USA and as a Central Committee Member of the World Council of Churches. This event was co-sponsored by the Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy; Dan Hofrenning, the current chair, moderated the panel.

Tuesday, November 28, 3:15 p.m.
Old Main 205
Anthony Bateza, Assistant Professor of Religion, and Benjamin Heidgerken, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, presented Fellowship in the Midst of Difference: A Roman Catholic-Lutheran Dialog on the Reformation.  As many commemorate Martin Luther’s posting of this 95 Theses in 1517, others wonder about the damage that was wrought and the divisions that continue to separate Roman Catholics and Protestants. What does it mean to commemorate a split in the Church? What issues still divide us today? Professor Ben Heidgerken, a Roman Catholic theologian, and Professor Anthony Bateza, a Luther scholar, commented on the relationship between these church bodies today and reflected on their own experiences.

Monday, November 20, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Dylan Walker ’18 spoke in chapel

Thursday, November 16, 11:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Fardosa Hassan, Muslim Student Program Associate at Augsburg University, will speak in chapel

Tuesday, November 14, 11:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
James Hanson, Associate Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Monday, November 13, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Martine Appel ’18, President of the Jewish Student Association, spoke in chapel

Thursday, November 9, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Thursday, November 2, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Rachel Bash ’15, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (Jerusalem 2015-2016), spoke in chapel

Tuesday, October 31, 11:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Steven Delzer, Bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA, spoke in chapel

Monday, October 30, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Trish Beckman, Assistant Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Sunday, October 29, 10:30 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Reformation Sunday High Mass featuring the St. Olaf Cantorei with Cantata No. 80 (“Ein feste Burg”) by J.S. Bach

Saturday, October 28, 10:30 a.m.
95 Theses Chalking. Students marked Reformation Day by writing Luther’s 95 Theses in German, English, and Latin in chalk on the sidewalks around campus.

Thursday, October 26, 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 4:00 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel (11:00 a.m.), Stav Hall (11:45 a.m.), and Viking Theater (4:00 p.m.)
Mary Streufert, Director of ELCA Justice for Women, spoke in chapel. ELCA Justice for Women works to promote gender equity not only in communities of faith but also in society as a whole through education, advocacy and leadership development. In addition to her role as program director, Mary is the North America Coordinator of the Women in Church and Society program of the Lutheran World Federation. Mary is also author of Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist and Mujerista Perspectives (Fortress Press, 2010), and editor of Our Voices, Our Stories: Sexism in Church and Society (ELCA, 2009). At 4:00 pm in Viking Theater, Mary facilitated an interactive dialogue on “The World, the Nation, St. Olaf, and You: Gender Equity and the Church,” considering intersectional gender justice and what the ELCA is doing to support gender equity.

Wednesday, October 25, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Dan Ruth ’01, Executive Director of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry, spoke in chapel. An ELCA pastor, Dan previously served as the Interactive Marketing Manager of Lutheran World Relief, with expertise communications, marketing, fundraising, and social media as a bridge-builder among communities halfway around the world from one another. In his current role leading LPGM, Dan oversees global ministry efforts in C.A.R., India, and Guatemala.

Tuesday, October 24, 11:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
L. DeAne Lagerquist, Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Monday, October 23, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
David Booth, Associate Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Thursday, October 19, 3:45 p.m. with reception following
Buntrock Commons Viking Theater (3:45 p.m. presentation) and Norway Room (5:00 p.m. reception)
Deanna Thompson ’89, Professor of Religion at Hamline University, spoke on “Commemorating Luther in the Age of Trump: A Feminist Proposal.” St. Olaf faculty members L. DeAne Lagerquist, Professor of Religion, and Doug Casson, Associate Professor of Political Science, served as respondents. An internationally-known scholar who brings Lutheran and feminist theology together in innovative and thought-provoking ways, Deanna is the author or editor of five books. In addition to her award-winning work as a teacher and an advisor, Deanna has served in several leadership positions in the American Academy of Religion. Her latest book, The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World (Abingdon, 2016) focuses on the current digital revolution and its potential for helping us better care for one another in the worst times of our lives.

Thursday, October 19, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Anthony Bateza, Assistant Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Thursday, October 12, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Seth Peabody, Visiting Assistant Professor of German, spoke in chapel

Wednesday, October 11, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Kaleb Sutherland ’12, Coordinator of the International Leaders Program in the ELCA Global Mission division, spoke in chapel. Immediately following chapel, he is available to visit with students in the Cage about careers in international service, international education, and gender equity. Among the programs Kaleb leads is the International Women Leaders Program, which supports international women students as they pursue academic degrees at institutions around the world. St. Olaf has welcomed its first IWL student to campus this fall. Kaleb’s work also includes advocacy and programming aimed at increasing access to education for traditionally under-served communities and ending gender-based discrimination in global higher education.

Tuesday, October 10, 11:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
John Barbour, Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Thursday, October 5, 11:30 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Michael Marissen
, Daniel Underhill Professor Emeritus of Music, Swarthmore College, delivered a Community Time presentation on “Bach Against Modernity.” Marissen described differences between how Bach has been portrayed in music history and how he likely thought of himself, particularly in terms of the importance of Lutheran theology to his sacred and secular music.

Thursday, October 5, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
St. Olaf College Regent William Gafkjen ’79, Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA, spoke in chapel

Thursday, September 28, 11:00 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Amy Mihelich ’16
, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (Rwanda, 2016-2017), spoke in chapel

Friday, September 22, 4:00 p.m.
Boe Chapel
Francisco Herrera, Lura Groen, Jessica Davis and Kelly Sherman-Conroy of #decolonizeLutheranism shared information about the movement and led a time of discussion.

Monday, September 18, 10:10 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Gregory Walter ’96, Professor of Religion, spoke in chapel

Thursday, September 14, 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Linda Hartke, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, spoke in chapel, followed by a Community Time panel discussion – “Is our neighbor welcome? Exploring stories and Lutheran values in Immigration today” – with Linda, Margaret Yapp, Volunteer Coordinator of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, and Anthony Bateza, Assistant Professor of Religion

Previous Events – Spring 2017

April 9 (Palm Sunday), 7:30 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion (Johannes Passion) by St. Olaf Cantorei, members of the St. Olaf Orchestra, and guest musicians, directed by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Music James Bobb

Thursday, March 30, 11 a.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel
Chapel talk by Gustavus Adolphus College Professor Emeritus of Religion Darrell Jodock ’62, followed by discussion during community time

Thursday, March 16, 7 p.m.
Buntrock Commons, Viking Theater
Screening of Rick Steves’ documentary Luther and the Reformation, with a greeting by Honorary Consul of Germany Barbara Müller


Lutheran Reformation Exhibit
Rolvaag Memorial Library
Monday, August 28 – Tuesday, October 31
To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, Rolvaag Library’s Special Collections displayed some of its oldest items, including Luther’s Deudsch Catechismus and two pamphlets of his sermons from 1523. In celebration of St. Olaf’s unique Norwegian Lutheran heritage, several Norwegian-American publications that illustrate Luther’s lasting influence on our community were also on display. Highlights included a gorgeous 400th anniversary catechism and a side-by-side Norwegian and English explanation of the catechism.

Luther-Related Book Display
Rolvaag Memorial Library
March 20–April 20, 2017

‘Here I Stand’ Poster Exhibit on the Life and Work of Martin Luther
Boe Memorial Chapel
March–April 2017