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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

18 January 2017: Rev'd Stephen Wright, Petersfield Methodist Church

Happy Anniversary

What do Elvis, Dolly the sheep and Premium Bonds have in common? The answer is that in 2017 they all have important anniversaries. But with due respect to Elvis, Dolly and Bonds, the most momentous anniversary of 2017, takes us back 500 years, when a priest called Martin Luther, nailed an academic discussion document (ever after called the 95 Theses) to a Church door in Wittenberg.

It marked the beginning of what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation. Historians will tell you that there are few more significant moments for Western politics, culture, or church. Unfortunately, what began as a protest within the Catholic Church, erupted into large-scale conflict across Europe; the dying embers of which can still be felt in Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland.

Eventually though, things did begin to change. In nineteenth century Britain, Catholics regained long lost civil rights. By the end of the twentieth century, Protestant parents were happy to send their children to Catholic schools. For their part, the Catholic Church ceased to pray for the re-conversion of England. In recent times, the present Pope, has even praised Luther and there are suggestions he may attend the celebrations in Wittenberg this year.

Major differences remain between Catholics and Protestants. But in this increasingly fractured world, their story is an important reminder that former enemies can become friends.

The fifth PACT Prayer Day will be held in the LifeChurch Centre, Station Road today (Wednesady 18 January) between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm - all are most welcome

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