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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Reformation in action

Martin Luther comes to life in Ohio

Sometimes it takes Martin Luther himself to bring the Reformation to life for young students—or a least a reasonable facsimile.

Last Reformation Day at Divinity Lutheran Church, Parma Heights, Ohio, that facsimile was parishioner Kenneth Spanagel. Posing as Luther, the municipal court judge performed three vignettes with youth thatre-enacted scenes from the Reformation. Those included Luther nailing the 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg [Germany] Castle Church and his appearance before the king to argue his case.

“There are lots of different ways to learn and different ways to teach,” said Douglas Gunkeman, a pastor of Divinity. “We wanted to help our youth remember, while at the same time attempt to pass down our identity as Lutheran Christians to our young people.”

For the Reformation party, three staging areas were set up in the fellowship hall where Spanagel said he taught a simple, but long-lasting lesson: “We are saved by grace through faith.”

Luther’s “act” continued well into the church’s 11 a.m. worship service, where Spanagel, still dressed in costume, delivered a children’s sermon.

Success was evident when “Luther” asked the youth: “How are we saved?”

The resounding response: “By grace through faith.”

“They do listen,” Spanagel remarked happily.


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