On Wednesday, 25 January, Christians from around Peterborough gathered at All Saints’ for the Annual Prayer Service for Christian Unity. The liturgy was based on that of the momentous occasion when Roman Catholics and Lutherans gathered for prayer in Sweden to mark the 500th year since the Reformation. (photo l-r – Father Glenn, Bishop Riscylla, The Rev’d Frank Tyrell)

It was the year 1517 when the German monk Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses to the door of his Catholic church, denouncing the Catholic sale of indulgences — pardons for sins — and questioning papal authority. That led to his excommunication and the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Pope Francis and leaders of the Lutheran World Federation in late October 2016, spent a day together in the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo, leading thousands of people in a common commemoration of the Protestant Reformation. Almost 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door, setting off more than a century of religious warfare and forever changing the practice of Christianity worldwide, Francis urged atonement and Christian reconciliation.

The officiant at All Saints’ was The Right Reverend Riscylla Shaw, the newly installed area bishop for Trent Durham. The homilist was Bishop William McGrattan, Bishop of Peterborough Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Clergy of other denominations also took part in the Service. The Liturgy was ably crafted by Father Geoff Howson of All Saints’.

During hymns and chants a wall of rocks was constructed on a table in front of the altar as a symbol of the barriers between Christians. As the liturgy progresses, the stones were torn down and placed on the floor in the form of a cross. The music was led by Giles Bryant as organist and director of the community choir. During the Service, the Kraus family performed a moving anthem on clarinet, viola, and piano.

The music really added emotion to the experience of the liturgy. For me it was the music of the Kraus family that pulled it all together. You could sense the weight of the Reformation but grasp a sense of moving into reconciliation, Father Glenn said.

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