Reformation 500

October 31, 2017 (All Saints' Eve) will mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, which was ignited by Luther's posting of "The 95 Theses" on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. A small committee is working on commemorative publications, projects, and events for St. Mark's, which will culminate in our own festival worship on the morning of October 29 (Reformation Sunday). The Washington DC Metropolitan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will sponsor a Reformation Service at 4:00 PM that afternoon (October 29) in Washington National Cathedral—mark it on your calendar! ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will preach. The previous Sunday, October 22, the National Lutheran Choir under the direction of David Cherwien will present a concert in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington at 7:00 PM—mark it on your calendar!

As other events come to our attention, they will be posted to St. Mark's Web site. If you have ideas or would like to join the committee, please see committee chair Chris Michaelsen. He will be available after Easter services in the Fellowship Hall, or you can contact him via email or telephone (703-507-3817).


Under Martin Luther, the use of a catechism to teach and study became an essential tool for Christian churches. Up until his day, there were no such methods available for the teaching of laity. There were the historic formulations of basic Christian principles by Cyril in 350, followed by Augustine's version in 420. Over the ensuing centuries, however, the catechism had emerged as the chief form of basic instruction for priests and monks. Also, as in church worship, Latin prevailed in Christian instruction, thus greatly limiting its use. One of Luther's first calls for reform was that basic Christian instruction should be available in the vernacular language. After 1517, as the Reformation expanded, he took the lead in that effort by producing in 1529 both the Large and Small Catechism in German. He also introduced the question-and-answer format to reach a wider reading audience. In the coming years, others followed. John Calvin drafted his first catechism in 1541, Heinrich Bullinger created another in 1555, and over the next century, many other Protestant versions appeared. In 1566, the Council of Trent produced a new Catholic catechism, but it remained limited for priestly rather than lay instruction, available only in Latin. Meanwhile, basic Protestant instruction in church doctrine using vernacular languages spread throughout western Europe. Once again, as on so many occasions, Luther took the first step in a process that profoundly changed the practice of Christianity.

Oktoberfest to Celebrate Reformation 500?

Calling all brewers!

Yes, you did read that correctly. No, I'm not talking about baseball. I'm looking for men and women of St. Mark's who brew beer, or would like to learn.

To help celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation, home brewers in congregations around our Fairfax Conference are hoping to have an Oktoberfest with great home-brewed beer. Our friends at Lord of Life already have 25-30 brewers in their growing home-brew crew. I know we have some brewers at St. Mark's. (I myself brew.)

So, if you are a brewer or want to learn about it and possibly become one, send me an email at ‪ Someone recently told me that he doesn't brew beer but he does drink it; I responded, "What do you think we do when we brew?" ;-)

In all seriousness, brewing is a great social activity around which some wonderful conversations and relationships take shape. I look forward to receiving your email!

Until then, cheers!

+ Pastor Albert

          Martin Luther (1483-1546)

          Martin Luther (1483-1546)