By Catherine Fink, Director of Communications and Resources, North Carolina Synod

Just over 800 voices were raised in worship and song during the 500th Anniversary Observance of the Reformation on Saturday, September 23, at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. Lutherans from both the North Carolina and South Carolina Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) were joined by their bishops: the Rev. Timothy M. Smith, of the NC Synod, ELCA, and the Rev. Herman R. Yoos, of the SC Synod, ELCA. A number of ecumenical guests were also present including the Rev. Dr. George E. Battle, Senior Bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church, Presiding Prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District, and the Most Rev. Peter Joseph Jugis, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, both of whom brought greetings to those gathered.

Additional ecumenical guests present were: The Most Rev. Robert Gugliemone, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston; The Rev. Canon Ernest Graham, the Episcopal Diocese of NC; Bishop Michael A. Frencher, Sr., A.M.E. Zion Church; and the Rev. Dr. Vergel L. Lattimore, President, Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, NC.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA preached on the scripture text from the gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer. “We must be one-single-minded, single-hearted-that the world might believe,” she proclaimed, urging Lutherans to find their commonalities with other Christians, not to be focused on differences, for the sake of the Gospel.

Preceding the worship was a Sacred Concert modeled after those developed by the 17th-century composer Dietrich Buxtehude at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in Lübeck, Germany, and revived in the 20th century by Hugo Distler at St. Joacobi in the same city. The format drew on the large musical forces envisioned by Martin Luther and his Cantor Johann Walter. The musicians included keyboard, strings, brass, and both adult and youth choirs to be the fitting “handmaid” for divine worship. In like manner, this concert featured choirs from the two Lutheran institutions of higher learning in the Carolinas: the Newberry College Singers of Newberry College in Newberry, S.C., and the A Cappella Choir of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. Also participating were the Lenoir-Rhyne Youth Chorus, the brass ensembles from both Newberry and Lenoir-Rhyne, and a combined choir made up of congregational singers from across the Carolinas. The congregational choirs participating were: Living Springs, Columbia, SC; Redeemer, Columbia, SC; St. Paul’s, Columbia, SC; Ebenezer, Columbia, SC; Ascension, Columbia, SC; Christ, Charlotte, NC; Holy Trinity, Charlotte, NC; Morning Star, Matthews, NC; St. Mark’s, Charlotte, NC; First, Lexington, NC; Ascension, Charlotte, NC; Good Shepherd, Mt. Holly, NC; and Calvary, Concord, NC. Organists were Florence Jowers, Professor Emeritus of Lenoir-Rhyne, and Les Ackerman, Organist and Music Director, St. Mark’s, Charlotte. A special anthem, The Righteous Shall Live by Faith by the Rev. Dr. Paul Weber, was commissioned by the Reformation 500 Task Force of the NC Synod especially for this service.

See photos from the event here >>

Watch Presiding Bishop Eaton’s Sermon

Listen to the premiere performance of
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith by The Rev. Dr. Paul Weber

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