By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Unity despite the differences. That is the goal that Protestant churches aim to reach this year, which marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that set the Christian world apart and gave birth to many other denominations which still exist today.
To celebrate this milestone, the followers of the Costa Rican Lutheran Church have been organizing several activities in the last three years as a way to remind themselves that their existence went through a rough historical process, according to the Geraldina Alvarez, pastor of the church.
“We feel really privileged to be part of this 500th anniversary celebration, because for us the Christian Reformation still goes on, as a never-ending adaptation process in favor of those who need help and know the word of God,” she said.
According to Geraldina, her church will continue focusing on an active social role, pushing equal rights for immigrants, women and sexually diverse people. They will push for the creation, too, of a secular state in Costa Rica.
According to the constitution, the Roman Catholic faith is the country’s official, state-sponsored religion.
“Our social fights will continue and we will stress the importance of continuing the dialogues we’ve been having with the Catholic Church. We wish a closer relationship with other followers of Christ,” she added.
In October, the Lutherans will hold a festivity named the Wittenberg Week, as a way to honor the day Martin Luther released his well known 95 Theses, a revision of the doctrine under the Scriptures, in the town of Wittenberg, which was then a part of the German Kingdom of Saxony.
Luther was famous for mailing this work to the Archbishop of Mainz on Oct. 31, 1517. Historians are still arguing whether or not the rogue Catholic priest actually did nail them to the doors of the church or not.
“We’ll organize entrepreneurial workshops for women, performing arts, a meditative mass and a big meeting with members of the Catholic church,” Pastor Alvarez said.
“We will also finish planting 500 trees as symbolic celebration of the 500 years of the Reformation,” she added.
In the case of the Costa Rican Episcopal Church, they plan to celebrate the anniversary with a simultaneous prayer offered this coming Sunday. They also seek to pay a visit to the Catholic Archbishop at some point during the year as sign of unity.
More activities will be announced soon, according to Hector Monterroso, Bishop of the Church.
“Once a month, two other leaders from two different denominations and I sit together to have lunch and plan our celebrations,” he said.
“We are very excited about the celebrations. For us the Reformation reminds us not only a doctrinal separation but, most important, the fact we are united on one single mission: to create more disciples for our lord Jesus,” he added.