Members of more than 14 different Christian traditions committed to greater unity at a service marking the 500th anniversary of the Church’s division.
A national service of commemoration and commitment took place at Cardiff’s Metropolitan Cathedral of St David to mark the day Martin Luther, a German Augustian monk, nailed 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Saxony – an action which began the Reformation.
The service was led by the Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack, with leaders of churches which grew out of the Reformation, including the Archbishop of Wales. During the service, they gave thanks for the insights of the Reformation, as well as expressing sorrow for the divisions it caused. They then committed themselves to grow in communion by lighting five candles to mark the five imperatives of the Lutheran / Catholic Commission on Unity.
The packed service was organised by Cytûn – Churches Together in Wales – and was followed by a lecture on the inheritance of the Reformation, by Professor Densil Morgan, of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
The church leaders taking part with Archbishop George were: the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies; the Revd Albrecht Köstlin-Büürma, Senior of the Synod of German-Speaking Lutheran Reformed and United Congregations in Great Britain; Rheinallt Thomas, Moderator of the Free Church Council of Wales; the Revd Elfed Godding, Director of the Evangelical Alliance Wales; the Revd Jenny Hurd, chair of Synod Cymru; and Patrick Coyle, chair of Cytûn.
In his address, Archbishop George Stack said, “This Quincentenary commemoration, and the events relating to it, have given us a marvellous opportunity to see a more complete picture of this man, not just to theology, and to the religious life of Europe and beyond, but also, according to some writers, one who laid the foundations of a view of the world which remains to this very day.”
He added, “With joy, we come together today recognising that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
The Archbishop of Wales John Davies, said, “We come with different thoughts and feelings of thanksgiving and lament, joy and repentance, joy in the Gospel and sorrow for division.”
Reinallt Thomas, Moderator of the Free Church Council in Wales, said, “Today we rejoice in the gifts that have come to the Church through the Reformation, to repent for dividing walls that we, and our forebears, have built, and to commit to work together in common witness and the service of Jesus Christ in the world.”
The Christian denominations represented in the Cathedral included:
- The Catholic Church
- The Church in Wales
- The Baptist Union of Wales
- South Wales Baptist Association
- The Methodist Church
- The German-Speaking Lutheran Church
- The Salvation Army
- The United Reformed Church
- The Union of Welsh Independents
- The Congregational Federation
- The Presbyterian Church of Wales
- The Indian Orthodox Church
- The Church of Pentecost – UK
- Society of Friends
Also represented were many other organisations which work in partnership with the churches.
Photos by James Campbell