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500 years of reformation celebration

By Staff | Oct 14, 2016

Oct. 31 marks the start of the 500th year since Martin Luther turned the Roman Catholic church on its ear and unwittingly began the reformation of the church. Luther, a theologian, priest and composer desired to shine a light on church corruption and by nailing a list of 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany in1517. Luther had hoped to debate the issues he had with the church, particularly critiquing the indulgences, but instead he was excommunicated and went into hiding for a time. Although a controversial figure, Luther’s legacy was that he desired for everyone to be closer to God. He had the Bible translated into German so that the common people could read it. Additionally, he is considered the father of the Protestant Reformation.

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Shepherdstown, along with other area churches, is planning a year-long commemoration the Reformation anniversary with a Renaissance and Reformation festival on Sat. Oct. 15, from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.

Admission is free.

“I was excited and surprised to see how this event has taken off,” said St. Peter’s pastor, Karen Erskine-Valentine. “We weren’t originally expecting the festival to be this big, but the town has been so supportive.”

There will be many merchandise vendors, music, crafts, characters in costume, children’s activities and a mystery play performed by Shepherd’s Rude Mechanicals. There will even be an opportunity to learn Renaissance social dancing.

The food is being prepared and/or donated by all local establishments. And yes, there will be turkey legs. Valentine said the event organizers purchased turkey legs and Todd Cotgreave from Town Run Brewing will be preparing them. Proceeds from food sales will go for the West Virginia flood relief efforts.

Valentine explained why an acknowledgment of the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation is important.

“I think that the church needs to continually be reforming,” said “It shouldn’t be something that was just done 500 years ago and then we’re done. The church has to continually reform-to continually be open to the movement of the spirit. If we’re not, then we get stale and dead.”

She continued, “I believe that we are in the midst of another reformation right now. There are a lot of people in the church who are shaking things up and heading us into reformation again-Pope Francis being one of them-changing the face of the church and pointing us toward God again.

“I think in the church we are very good and judging one another. There’s a lot of division within the church. That’s parallel with our culture here in the states with the political landscape. We claim to follow Jesus, and yet we judge and exclude one another. We need to move toward being more inclusive and loving toward one another.”

“People look at the church with skepticism and cynicism and think we’re irrelevant and holding on to archaic ideas,” said Valentine, “so I really want people to see that the church is relevant. The church is not stuck in the past, but celebrating the past in order to look forward-reformation.”

The festival will be held King St. between German and High. For more information or to volunteer, contact the office at St. Peter’s, 304-876-6771.