Plans to celebrate 500th anniversary of Reformation revealed

A travelling exhibition will set off in November as part of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's historic protest will be commemorated from late this year.

June 1 2016Celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 will begin in November this year, with a travelling exhibition, the European Reformation Roadmap, visiting 67 cities in 18 countries to be among the features of the year-long commemoration.

The World Council of Churches has announced that the tour through Europe is to begin on 3 November in Geneva, the city of John Calvin, and now the head office of the WCC and many other international organisations. It will conclude in May 2017 in Wittenberg – where on 31 October 1517, regarded as the start of the Reformation, Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 theses on the door of All Saints’ Church opposing the sale of indulgences (supposed to save sinners from Purgatory if they repented and made a generous donation) by the Roman Catholic Church and what he perceived to be clerical abuses attached to this practice.

Cities from the Netherlands and Hungary to Slovenia and Ireland will be visited by a show truck or “story-mobile”, along with sites of significance to the Reformation, such as Rome, Augsburg, Worms and Eisenach. In February, the Roadmap tour will visit Dublin, Liverpool, Cambridge and London before returning to the Continent.

The tour will stop over for 36 hours at each location, with regional and ecumenical partners inviting the population to festivals to discover local links to the history of the Reformation.

But events commemorating the Reformation, which rocked 16th Century Europe and radiated out to other continents in subsequent centuries, will last a full year. They include the introduction of a revised Luther Bible in St George’s Church Eisenach, Germany, on 30 October this year, the eve of the formal opening of the Reformation 500th anniversary celebrations, to a World Reformation Exhibition, “Gates of Freedom”, in Wittenberg from May-September and concluding with a service and act of celebration as part of a Germany-wide public holiday on 31 October 2017.

The General Secretary of the WCC, Norwegian Lutheran theologian and pastor the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said: “It makes a lot of sense both to celebrate and to face the challenges of today in the one world in the light of the legacy of the Reformation.

“We can change to focus on the needs of the other; particularly those who need more attention for the sake of justice and peace. This is about making the best values of the Reformation a living reality today.”

For more details, see and