The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Churches in the Lutheran tradition regard the 31 October 1517 as the starting point of the Reformation. It was on that date that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his ninety-five theses opposing the sale of indulgences and what he perceived to be clerical abuses attached to this practice on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
The shaking of the foundations that reverberated 500 years ago from Wittenberg, Zürich, Geneva and many other places changed the fabric of social relations in Europe. This movement radiated out to other continents, influencing whole cultures and regions. From November 2016 the European Reformation Roadmap will link up sites of significance for the Reformation. In May 2017 the tour will be completed in Central Germany, at its final way-station in Wittenberg, in time for the World Reformation Exhibition "Gates of Freedom".
Cities in the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Ireland and more than a dozen other European countries will be visited, including Rome, Augsburg, Worms and Eisenach with its Wartburg fortress. The visitors will stop over for 36 hours. Regional and ecumenical partners will invite the population to a festival with many different events in order to discover local relations to the history of the Reformation.
Past events will come to life again in surprising dramatic presentations at each stop-over. Encounters with local people will bring out the relevance of the Reformation for today. Personal story-telling will testify to the contemporary nature of Reformation viewpoints. Every way-station will then send along a memento to the World Reformation Exhibition in Wittenberg.
The European Reformation Roadmap will enable the cities - those in Germany having been proposed by their regional Protestant churches - to propel the Reformation issues relevant to them to the forefront of media and public attention. A show-truck ("storymobile") will stand on a central square as an eye-catcher. The regional media will report on the events and encounters before, during and after the visit.
Start in Geneva
The show-truck will not only invite spectators to the World Reformation Exhibition "Gates of Freedom". It will also advertise the Kirchentag in Berlin and Kirchentag-style events at 6 other cities, the festive closing service and the popular festival at the end of May in Wittenberg. Events marking the Reformation anniversary in each region can be topics as well, however, because the programme during the stopover will be primarily planned by local churches and groups.
The way-stations are now definite - from Augsburg to Zwolle. The tour through Europe will start on 3 November in Geneva, the city of John Calvin, now home to the head office of the World Council of Churches and many other international organizations.
The European Reformation Roadmap is linked with a project of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). It has designated a number of cities as European Cities of the Reformation. The first one to earn this title was Emden in East Friesland. The initiative supports an intriguing mix of art, culture and spirituality, promoting historical adventure and tourism in the Cities of the Reformation. The cities on the Roadmap can also become Reformation Cities of Europe.
The celebration will start 3-4 November 2016 in Geneva. The programme prepared by a local working group includes seminars, a panel discussion on peace, and a digital exhibition.
Download the programme (pdf, 1 MB)
More information on the European Reformation Roadmap 2017:
International website (in English and German)
Swiss website (in French and German)
European Reformation Roadmap to link historical sites in 67 cities, 19 countries (WCC press release of 31 May 2016)