HOWARD LAKE, MN In 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, posted 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
His action led to the Reformation a call to purify the church and a belief that the Bible, not tradition, should be the only source of spiritual authority. It was the birth of Lutheranism.
Pastor Paul Koch, of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, explained why the Reformation is still relevant, 500 years later.
“At its heart is the preaching of Christ,” he said. “It set people free from their sin and gives hope of eternal life. It still does so today.”
To celebrate this historic anniversary, Koch, and Pastor Mark Loder of St James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake, are planning an event dubbed Destination: Reformation.
The Destination: Reformation conference is slated for Saturday, April 29, at St. John’s. The day will be filled with worship, education, singing and fellowship.
Koch has scheduled some big names to speak. Each of the four scheduled presenters are connected to Koch in some way, primarily through Luther Seminary.
• Dr. Steven Paulson, who teaches systematic theology at Luther
• Dr. Roy Harrisville, who is a Lutheran theologian known for his study of the New Testament.
• Dr. Michael Rogness, a former professor at Luther, who answered his first call at St. John’s in Howard Lake decades ago.
• Dr. Paul Westermeyer, who is also a former Luther professor, with decades of service focusing on hymns.
Koch said that the event is not just for pastors - it is accessible to everyone. “These are ordinary people,” he said of the speakers. “They have brilliant minds. I think lay-people will really enjoy them and their powerful testimonies pointing to Jesus.”
After the keynote speeches in the morning, the conference continues with afternoon workshops led by three of the presenters.
Dr. Westermeyer will spend the afternoon working with an ad hoc choir, which will perform at worship in the evening.
(The Howard Lake pastors said people who might be shy about singing should give it a try. They feel hymns are powerful preachers themselves, and wouldn’t mind if the hymnals went home with parishioners during the week. “Even if you can’t sing,” Loder says, “let the Word teach you.”)
The conference will conclude with a social hour, dinner, and evening Vespers.
Destination: Reformation is part of a larger, year-long celebration.
The two churches filled a bus with parishioners and went to a Luther exhibit in Minneapolis earlier this year. They will have a softball team this summer.
There are also plans to get together to watch a movie about Luther, which will be followed by a People’s Choice hotdish competition.
Finally, the celebration will culminate with a Reformation service in October, which will feature guest preachers, and the music of area choirs and bands.
Koch and Loder want to make sure people know everyone is welcome to attend the Destination: Reformation conference. Koch noted he is already aware of attendees planning to come from Iowa and Nebraska. While happy to host people from all over, the pair is proud to host the celebration in “little Howard Lake.”
“We want people to remember that Jesus Christ still matters and is our hope,” Koch said. “He’s full of comfort for us.”
Registration for Destination: Reformation is now open. More information and the registration form are available on St. John’s website: http://stjohnshl.org, or by calling (320) 543-2227.
The event is free. Child care is offered, and is also free. Lunch and dinner are provided for a $10 fee.