PLU 500th anniversary of the Reformation events

Reflect on PLU’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

September 2016

Free at Last?
Lutheran Perspectives on Racial Justice

In a political season marked by the demonization of ethnic, racial and religious minorities, the sixth annual Lutheran Studies Conference on Thursday, Sept. 29, will bring together scholars, musicians, students and college leaders who will share their expertise and their reflections on racial justice. It is an issue of particular importance for those who live in the Pacific Northwest, a region of the country marked by the often forgotten wounds of racial discrimination beginning in the early 1800s and persisting to this day.

Conference speakers and artists include:

  • Dr. Doug Oakman and Dr. David Deacon-Joyner: Ideas Matter: Justice as Equality, Freedom, and Community in a Post-Enlightenment World
  • PLU students Kim Bond, Meghan Gould and Theo Hofrenning: PLU Students Engage the Quest for Racial Justice
  • Dr. Emily Davidson: Marginalized Memories, Critical Conversations: The Literature Classroom as a Space for Imagining Racial Justice
  • Dr. Kevin O’Brien: It Doesn’t Matter If I Mean Well: What 21st Century White People Might Learn from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
  • Dr. Samuel Torvend: The Art of Social Protest: Contemporary Visual Images That Provoke, Inspire, and Challenge
  • Ms. Angie Hambrick, Dr. Joanna Royce Davis and Ms. Laree Winer: Whose Story? Critical Race Theory and the (De)Construction of the PLU Narrative

Dr. John Nunes, the newly elected president of Concordia College in New York City and the first African-American to serve as president of a Lutheran college in the western hemisphere, will give the keynote address, When Grace Meets Race: One Lutheran’s View of Racial Justice.

The conference is free and open to the public. Go to the conference website for the complete schedule, presentation descriptions and speaker biographies.

October 2016

Marty’s Reformation Station

Be alert to the huge heads of Martin Luther appearing on campus. Then look for his entire body (in cardboard) with an invitation to the adventurous. And finally, get ready to download the app that will lead to the numerous, very cool Luther statues created by Spencer Ebbinga, associate professor of art and design. Successful discovery of all the sites throughout the month of October and you might win you cool prizes.

Bach Concert

Jonathan Ryan will present an organ recital in Lagerquist Hall on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m. The program will include selections from J.S. Bach’s Clavierübung III, sometimes referred to as The German Organ Mass, one of the many masterpieces by the most famous of Lutheran composers. From Bach’s title page: “The third Part of the Keyboard Practice, consists of various preludes on Martin Luther’s catechism and other hymns for the organ.” Ryan will also present a lecture/demonstration on the topic of “Clavierübung III” for the Tacoma Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. This will take place on Monday, Oct. 10. For place and time, go to

Vive la Réforme!

Inspired by the fervor of the French Revolution (without the guillotine), Lutheran Studies at PLU sponsors another blowout cocktail party in celebration of the Reformation (anticipating Oct. 31 a bit early). University House members and their friends are invited to gather at University House on Friday, Oct. 14, beginning at 5 p.m. (pray, you thirsty souls, for a short faculty meeting). Celebrity bartenders promise a new cocktail in honor of 500 years of Lutheran education and fabulous French appetizers. Then get ready for the prizes: from Luther bobble heads to attractive wine glasses to who knows what?

Knutson Lecture

The David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture (both PLU alumni, David a former member of the Religion Department) will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the evening, at Lagerquist Hall. Dr. Jennifer Harvey, professor of religion at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, will speak. Her title is From Ferguson to Charleston: Religious Faith, Righteous Feminists, and Holy Fire.

The Faculty Memo That Sparked a Revolution

October 31, 1517, marks the day on which Martin Luther sent a memo to his faculty colleagues at the University of Wittenberg. The “memo” included 95 theses for discussion and debate concerning the sale of spiritual favors in Germany, a sale approved by a pope who had emptied the Vatican Treasury for the sake of his personal and expensive pursuits. The Theses were published on the new and revolutionary communications breakthrough – the printing press – and went viral throughout Europe. The theses not only called into question the selling of what Luther argued should be free (God’s forgiveness), but also called into question the entire system that supported this “spiritual economy,” including its leader in Rome. Campus Ministry is planning a series of events on Monday, Oct. 31 to mark the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. Look for the schedule at the Campus Ministry webpages.

December 2016

Dec. 8 from 8 to 9:30 p.m., Lagerquist Concert Hall in MBR

“Sounds of Christmas” with a Reformation choral work performed by University Singers and Men’s Chorus and directed by Associated Director of Choral Studies Brian Galante. Tickets for “Sounds of Christmas” are available online.

February 2017

Friday, Feb. 10 – 10:30 a.m. – Lower campus (corner of Park Ave. S. & 125th St. S.)

Throughout the world, Lutheran colleges and churches are planting Luthergartens (“Gardens”) with seeds or saplings from Wittenberg, Germany, or saplings native to one’s region in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reform movement that gave birth to Lutheran education. PLU is opting to plant five trees native to our region, one for each of the four ELCA Pacific Northwest Synods that sponsor PLU, and one in honor of the university. Lutheran bishops from the Pacific Northwest synods will join university faculty, administrators and students in the planting.

The image of the Tree of Life appears in African, Christian, Jewish and Muslim artwork, as well as in the spiritual ethos of Western Washington native tribes who honor the yellow and red cedar. Follow this link to the Lutheran Studies lecture given by Dr. Gail Ramshaw, in which she discusses the Tree of Life in Jewish and Christian spirituality.

Sunday, Feb. 12 (Opening) – Scandinavian Cultural Center

Elisabeth Ward, director of the center, has prepared a narrative exhibit that traces the establishment of Lutheran schools from the Midwest to the West: the challenges educators faced, the cooperation they offered each other,and the distinctive dimensions of Lutheran education they provided. The exhibit can be viewed during regular hours when the center is open to the public.

Hours: Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 23 – 6 p.m. – Ingram 100

PLU Lecturer in Art Mare Blocker will use selected pages from the Saint John’s Bible to lead a workshop in practicing Visio Divina, a contemplative, repetitive, prayerful viewing of the illuminations on the page. This technique invites the participant to slow down and see the entire image. Workshop participants will identify symbols that represent the divine within themselves and use them to make collages, drawings and poems.


In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, PLU has created a beer inspired by Katharina von Bora. The beer is available for purchase at 208 Garfield.

March 2017

Wednesday, March 15 – 4 p.m. – Hauge 101

Fr. Eric Hollas, O.S.B, of Saint John’s Abbey, former director of the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library and first promoter of the Saint John’s Bible, will speak on the role of the artist as interpreter of Scripture: the artist as visual preacher of the Word of God. Fr. Hollas’ knowledge of the Saint John’s Bible and his engaging manner of discussing the illuminations’ interpretations of the text will provide an excellent opportunity for teachers, musicians, artists, and preachers to engage the Saint John’s Bible and use its images in their own settings. This event is free and open to the university and to the public.

Wednesday, March 15 – 8 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center

Members of the university’s choral and jazz groups will present Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Concerts.” Dr. Doug Oakman (PLU Religion as well as an expert in the music of Duke Ellington) will offer comments during the musical presentation. Illuminations from the Saint John’s Bible will be featured throughout the concert.

April 2017

Sunday, April 2 (Opening) – Scandinavian Cultural Center

This exhibit, prepared by Dr. Elisabeth Ward (Scandinavian Cultural Center) and Dr. Michael Halvorson (PLU History) chronicles the emergence of the Lutheran reform movement in Germany and its expansion into the Nordic countries during the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibit can be viewed during regular hours when the center is open to the public.

Hours: Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wednesday, April 19 – 7:30 p.m. – Scandinavian Cultural Center

Dr. Samuel Torvend, Professor of Religion, will complete his term as University Chair in Lutheran Studies in summer 2017. This presentation serves as his farewell lecture as University Chair (though he will continue to teach in the Department of Religion). His lecture will focus on the rarely researched topic of Nazi persecution of gay men from 1933 to 1945. Robert Oelbermann was a Lutheran naturalist; his imprisonment, torture, and death at the hands of the Nazi regime signifies the brutal repression of a sexual minority that once enjoyed considerable freedom throughout Germany. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 23 – 3 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall in MBR

The Lyric Brass Quintet will perform “Luther, Seven Scenes for Brass Quintet” composed by PLU music professor emeritus Jerry Kracht, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

June 2017

Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17 – Pacific Lutheran University

For the first time in many years, the Southwestern Washington Synod will hold its annual assembly at PLU. In addition to conducting its normal business, the assembly will feature PLU professors discussing the future of the Lutheran reform movement in the Pacific Northwest. And synod delegates will be able to search the campus for Marty’s Reformation Station with their smart phones.

August 2017

The Saint John’s Bible arrived at PLU in August 2016, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. In late summer 2017, we bid farewell to this extraordinary work of art. At the same time, we look forward to a new exhibit in the Mortvedt Library focused on the Luther Bible and other artifacts from the Library’s Archives and Special Collections and the University Art Collection.

September 2017

Thursday, Sept. 28 – 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. – Pacific Lutheran University

SING! 500 years of Faith, Reform and Liberation

The Seventh Annual Lutheran Studies Conference will will focus on the liberating and reforming role singing has played in the Protestant tradition. Participants will learn about the role music has played in the Lutheran and Gospel music traditions and have opportunities to join in the song!

Thursday, Sept. 28 – 7:30 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center

The National Lutheran Choir, under the direction of Dr. David Cherwien, will present the first West Coast concert at Pacific Lutheran University on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. in Lagerquist Concert Hall at the Mary Baker Russell Music Center. With the title, UNA SANCTA (One Holy), the program will include ancient as well as contemporary works that celebrate the reform initiated 500 years ago by Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon.

Ticket Information:

While the concert is free and open to the public, tickets to the concert must be picked up in advance at the PLU Concierge Desk in the Anderson University Center. There is a maximum of 10 tickets/per person. We are unable to take telephone reservations and hold tickets at the door. Tickets will be available for pick-up starting Monday, Sept. 11 on a first-come, first-served basis.

October 2017

Tuesday, Oct. 10 – 8 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall

As part of their first concert of the year, PLUSO will perform Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 in D, known as the “Reformation”, as it was composed in 1830 for the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. It utilizes the “Dresden Amen” and Martin Luther’s chorale A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (which Bach has previously set in his Cantata No. 80). The program features works based on previously-written vocal music, and also includes Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger, Butterworth’s evocative rhapsody A Shropshire Lad, and the Hebraic Meditation by Bloch–with faculty member Anna Jensen as double-bass soloist.  Huw Edwards conducts, making his debut with PLUSO.

Oct. 15 – 3 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall

On Oct. 15, the Pacific Lutheran University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Edwin Powell will be giving the second performance and West Coast Premiere of James Stephenson’s “this is most certainly true.” This is six minute dramatic tone poem was commissioned by PLU and 25 other Lutheran University bands. Organized by James Ripley at Carthage College, PLU joined this project to bring to life a significant new work as part of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation celebrations. Carthage will debut the work on Sept. 30 with the collected ELCA Bishops in attendance at the concert.

Sunday, Oct. 22 – 3 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall

The October concert in the Richard D. Moe Organ Series in PLU’s Lagerquist Hall will feature 4-hand (and feet) organ transcriptions played by University of Illinois organist Dana Robinson, and PLU organist Paul Tegels. The concert will include a transcription, written by Paul Tegels, of the last two movements of the Reformation Symphony of Felix Mendelssohn. Come and hear the mighty sounds of the Gottfried and Mary Fuchs organ in this glorious setting of “Ein Feste Burg”.

Sunday, Oct. 29 – 11 a.m. – Trinity Lutheran Church

Come to Trinity Lutheran Church for the Reformation Sunday Service, with PLU’s Choir of the West at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29. There will be lunch, followed at 2 p.m. by a performance from the Evergreen Brass Quintet of Jerry Kracht’s new composition “Luther: Seven Scenes for Brass Quintent.”

Tuesday, October 31

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther distributed a document to his faculty colleagues at the University of Wittenberg, a document with 95 theses that called into question the spiritual economy of the late medieval church and criticized the pope who sanctioned the sale of spiritual favors of dubious repute. For 500 years, Lutherans and other Protestant Christians have celebrated the beginning of the Reformation on this date.

PLU will mark this significant day in the history of Lutheran education with a variety of events on campus. Stay tuned for updates on this calendar for more information.

9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | AUC Foyer

Reformation Activities

  • Reformation Door interactive activity for on-going Reform and photo booth

9:40 a.m. | AUC Foyer

Reenactment of the posting of the 95 Theses (with Professor Michael Halvorson as Martin Luther)

10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. | AUC Foyer

Brass Quintet

  • The PLU student brass quintet will perform a selection of jazz standards and light classical pieces.

11 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. | CK in the AUC

Luther’s theology: Celebrating Reformation Insights Today

Presented by Marit Trelstad, University Chair of Lutheran Studies

A Reformation lecture for participants in the day’s activities. The talk will engage the facts and myths surrounding October 31st, 1517 – the anniversary day we are celebrating! It will also explore on main theological ideas of Luther and the gifts and challenges they bring to our communities and issues of concern today. Dr. Trelstad will also share pictures of Wittenberg, Germany in 2017 and their celebration of the Reformation’s impact on the world today. The anniversary of the Reformation calls us to be open to the ways we are called to service, care, study and reform today.

Free and open to the public

First come first served, limited seating

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. | Regency Room

Awards for the campus-wide scavenger hunt (Marty’s Reformation Station App), plus Reformation trivia, games and events.

November 2017

Sunday, Nov. 5 – 3 p.m. – Lagerquist Concert Hall

Commemorating 500 years of Lutheran Reformation. Congregations of the ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod and Pacific Lutheran University invite you to worship. Praising God in Word and Sacrament, we give thanks for the heritage we share, the communion of saints and the gifts of the Reformation. This special worship service will include preaching by Bishop Richard Jaech, communion and a mass choir.

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Lagerquist Concert Hall in Mary Baker Russell

The PLU Religion Department welcomes you to the 12th Annual David and Marilyn Knutson lecture. To honor the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, this year’s lecture will be given by Dr. Ulrich Duchrow, Professor of Theology at the University of Heidelberg and leader of the international Radicalizing Reformation Project. The lecture is free and open to the public.