Commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was a central feature of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand’s (LCNZ) biennial Convention of Synod in Wellington last month
On Pentecost Sunday there were three related events, each with its own flavour.
The first was a morning Reformation Commemoration Service at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, where Rev Dr Dean Zweck preached on the text John 20:19–23.
An afternoon joint commemorative service was held at the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, with the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew, and LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield presiding.
Attendees were given a special Maori welcome. As worshippers filed through the rarely used formal entrance, drops of baptismal water were sprinkled on them by Bishop Mark and Cardinal Dew – signifying that we meet as one at the font in baptism. The prayer service was adapted from the liturgy prepared for last year’s joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden.
With the Gospel of John 15:1-5 as his text, Cardinal Dew noted that Catholics and Lutherans had been through a long period of pruning, before this era of new growth. Bishop Whitfield said we ask how we become again what we are in baptism, and we rejoice in healing that has taken place and the knowledge that God constantly watches over us. The service included a special rite to mark the establishment of formal dialogue between the two denominations in Aotearoa–New Zealand.
That evening 110 Lutherans and guests attended a dinner at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, where Anglican Rev Dr Joe McGarry spoke on the relevance of Luther’s theology for New Zealanders today.
Ingrid Phyn and Pauline Simonsen are members of the LCNZ’s 50.500 Working Group.