Lutherans to celebrate Reformation history Festival planned at Jessup school

October 23, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

In a sense, every Protestant in the county has cause to celebrate with the 17 Lutheran churches holding a Festival Reformation Service Sunday night.

The service, which includes an orchestra, a massed choir with bells and a children's choir, marks the anniversary of the day on Oct. 31, 1517, when Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, sparking the beginning of the Reformation.

The rest is history, in the most literal sense, as many Protestant denominations developed from that movement.

The county's Lutherans will celebrate both their history and their current mission as Lutherans at Sunday's event, set for 6:30 p.m. at Jessup Elementary School, said the Rev. David Asplin, one of the festival coordinators.

The purpose of the Protestant Reformation, said Mr. Asplin, pastor of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church of Severn, was to "bring the Christian church back to the central message and purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church can become institutional and focus inward on maintaining tradition," he said.

But even as they celebrate their historic roots this weekend, Lutherans acknowledge that the church "always needs to be reforming itself," Mr. Asplin said.

"We seek to emphasize what brings us together and not what separates us," he said.

Officiating at the festival, which includes several contemporary choirs as well as the classical musicians, will be the Rev. Mark Chavez of Peace Lutheran Church in Ferndale. The Rev. Rick Hase, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Glen Burnie and the former director of ministries for the Baltimore Urban Ministries Coalition, will preach.

The festival will reflect Luther's theological concept of salvation by faith alone, apart from human good works, said Mr. Asplin.

"We strongly emphasize that humanity is loved and accepted by God first, and not because of anything humans do. It's totally a gift from God. We're not a tremendously law- or rule-oriented church," he said.

Lutheran churches also tend to be ecumenical, encouraging participation with Christian churches of other denominations, the minister said. "Lutherans don't see ourselves as the only ones who have the truth," he said.

As part of that ecumenicism, churches such as Christ the Servant work with other groups to build up their communities, Mr. Asplin said.

The 4-year-old church meets in the cafeteria of Jessup Elementary School on Route 175, just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

"Our congregation is really attempting to build a sense of community, particularly in this very transient West County area where people often move in from elsewhere and have no attachments," he said.

Within the church, members hold small adult Bible studies in homes and regularly invite those who might be alone on holidays to their homes on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The church is equally involved outside the congregation, in outreaches such as the North County Emergency Outreach Network, which members support with food gifts and money. Mr. Asplin, who helped organize the group, serves on the board of directors.

The public is invited to the festival service.

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