What is the mission of the Wittenberg Center?

The Reformation was not a single, monolithic event, but a family of closely related Christian renewal movements in various European lands, with differing degrees of success, all springing from the singular events associated with Martin Luther from 1517 onwards. Sixteenth-century reformations in Germany, England, Scotland, France, and even Italy as well as Spain were all tied to the religious renewal that Luther began in Wittenberg.

The mission of the Wittenberg Center for Reformation Studies is to bring together students and researchers from around the world to gain a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between these sibling Reformations, in order to equip and engage the academy, the church and the world today.

What is the backstory of the Wittenberg Center?

The global interest in this concept of sibling Reformation research generated by them, and the opportunity they have provided for spotlighting the importance of the various aspects of Reformation theology, has led to the founding of the Wittenberg Center.

For many years, a team of scholars gathered by Dorothea Wendebourg and Ashley Null have promoted the intertwined history of the Reformations in England and on the Continent.  They have organized three international conferences in 2009, 2012, and 2018, supported by the German Research Council, on the “Sister Reformations” in England and Germany.

What do we hope to accomplish with the Wittenberg Center?

The Wittenberg study center offers courses for students, support for researchers from abroad, and guided tours for groups visiting Germany.  By exploring the various aspects of the Reformation at its “Ground Zero,” we can better understand the roots of contemporary Christianity and the power of the Gospel to renewal the church and society again in our own day. In the future, we also expect to offer renewal retreats in America for pastors led by the Rev. John Fonville.

In the future, we also expect to offer renewal retreats in America for pastors led by the Rev. John Fonville, MDiv.  John is the founding rector of Paramount Church, a church plant in Jacksonville, Florida, in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America.  He is passionate about the power of Reformation theology to transform the lives of Christians wearied by always having to prove their worth.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England. He served both Henry VIII and Edward VI, and was known as the “architect” of the English Reformation as well as the author of its first prayer books. Here we see Thomas Cranmer as a clean-shaven Henrician reformer, as in the famous portrait by Gerlach Flicke. As an Edwardian reformer, Cranmer wore a beard, as is shown by a portrait of an unknown artist preserved in Lambeth Palace.

Illustration: Wittenberg Castle Church, stained-glass window, created by Renate Brömmer in 1983.

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