Martin Luther

Almost 500 years ago, Martin Luther gave a decisive impetus for the theological and spiritual reform of the Church. What began with Luther's rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by faith and his fight over indulgences developed into a worldwide reform movement that made Wittenberg known on all continents. The fundamental insights of his theology continue to have an impact today, and not just in the churches that arose out of the Lutheran branch of the Reformation. Thanks to the ecumenical movement, which bore great fruit through intensive dialogue particularly in the 20th century, the Christian world community has developed into a spiritual community.

The Idea

In 2017, when the LWF and its member churches commemorate the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses in Wittenberg, it would like to use the opportunity to give expression to a core understanding found in its Constitution: "The LWF confesses the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and intends to serve the unity of the Church." And so, the LWF is taking great care in the preparations for 2017 to find ways to emphasize the ecumenical magnitude of this commemoration and its importance for ecumenical relationships.

This should find expression in a concrete project, and not just anywhere, but in the birthplace of the Reformation - in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Something permanent, but not yet complete, should be established, something that continually grows and enriches Wittenberg - a sign that symbolizes the vitality and life connectedness of the reform movement and its worldwide resonance.

Planting trees will allow a garden to emerge that not only will offer the living beauty of a park, but that will give meaning to theological insights as well. As the first stones were laid at the official opening of the Luthergarten in 2008, ELCA Presiding Bishop and LWF President Mark Hanson said: The time when Martin Luther lived was haunted by nightmares and fantasies about what the future would bring. They were nightmares of divine judgment and the fantasies of some utopia ironically created out of violence. There is a well-known story that Luther, when asked what he would do if God's final judgment were to arrive the next day, replied that he would plant an apple tree. Although the story is likely a legend, it reflects the confidence that the life lived in Jesus Christ can be lived in evangelical repentance that is both joyfully attentive to life in this creation and joyously hopeful for life in the new creation. May the dedication of this garden provide the occasion for our witness to the repentant life in Christ and our joyous hope of life where Jesus lives.

In connection with the "planting of a small apple tree" quote ascribed to Luther, and as part of the preparation for the 500-year Reformation Jubilee, the Luthergarten is being created. This interactive monument, in the best sense of the word, will take shape in the coming years (up to 2017) on the grounds just south of the Old Town, according to the plans of the renowned landscape architect, Andreas Kipar (Duisburg/Milan).

It will be established as a sign of solidarity, connectedness, and reconciliation of churches worldwide. And, thus once again, an impulse will emanate from the garden for the town, the region, the country and finally, again, for the world.

This was emphasized by then-leading bishop of the VELKD and chair of the German National Committee of the LWF, Bishop Dr. Johannes Friedrich: "The project design already gives us a sense that the Luthergarten will have a worldwide resonance. This stems from the persuasive design suggestions of the landscape architect Dr. Kipar, clear in construction, differentiated in detail, world encompassing in its implementation. I am convinced that this on this location there will be one of the most meaningful monuments to the Reformation created in the 21st century."

Besides the other well-known places in Wittenberg that are connected to Luther's influence, the town will receive an additional Luther symbol in the form of an open-air space that will be accessible to all. The history of the Lutheran-influenced Reformation will come to light in this setting. It will be a location for cultural events and other activities.

Zentrum Luthergarten

Next plantings:

May 18 Church Congregation St. Matteus, Stockholm, Sweden
May 18 Catholic Congregation St. Viktor and Ev. Congregation in Xanten, Germany
May 19 Ev. Foundation in Gnadau, Germany
May 22 Luth. Church of the Holy Comforter in Belmont, NC, USA
May 23 Ev. Luht. Congregation St. John in Witten, Germany
May 24  Ev. Church District in Mülheim, Germany and Ev. Luth. Church District Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
May 24 Luth. Church District München and Ev. Luth. Congregation St. Katharina in Kiew
May 25  Church Congregations in Ballerup, Malov, Skorvlunde and Pederstrup, Denmark
May 29 Ev. Church District Cologne North, Germany
May 29 Allegheny Synod, ELCA, USA
May 29 Lutheran Campus Ministry in Austin, TX, USA
June  1 Christ the King Luth. Church in Houston, Texas, USA
June  2 Diocese of Worcester, Church of England
June  6 Roman Catholic Church District Rheinfelden-Magden-Olsberg, Switzerland
June  8 Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL, USA
June 14 Mission 21, Basel, Switzerland
June 17 Ev. Luth. Congregation Divino Salvador, Puerto Rico and St. Luke in Middleton, WI, USA
June 26 Ev. Mission in Solidarity, EMS, Germany
June 26 Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Manchester, Missouri, USA
June 26 Ev. Luth. Congregations St. Bartholomäus, Germany, and St. Paul, Newark, Ohio

Luthergarten Schlosskirche

Each euro allows the Luthergarten to grow!

It is not possible for all churches to raise the entire amount for the tree planting. But we do not want to exclude any church, particularly in this worldwide and ecumenical project. With your donation, you can help these churches to participate in the unique project Luthergarten.

Bank details:
Account holder: VELKD/LWB-Zentrum Wittenberg
IBAN: DE75 8006 3598 0000 4556 87
Bank:   Volksbank Wittenberg eG
            Collegienstraße 12
            06886 Lutherstadt
Purpose: tree planting WB + your name and address