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Lutherans Worldwide Celebrate Martin Luther's Baptism

( [email protected] ) Nov 11, 2008 03:47 PM EST

Lutheran congregations worldwide are joining in celebration on Tuesday for the 525th anniversary of the baptism of protestant reformation founder Martin Luther.

The worldwide “Baptism Festival” on Nov. 11, the day after Martin Luther’s birthday on Nov. 10, 1483, will see at least 270 baptisms in 249 congregations celebrating baptismal remembrances in 13 countries.

As many as 25 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are registered to host remembrances.

“A developed theology of baptism is a central part of our Lutheran heritage and this festival is a way to emphasize that importance in our home congregations and worldwide,” said the Rev. Scott A. Moore, an ELCA pastor serving St. Andreas-Nicolai-Petri in Lutherstadt Eisleben and Saints Peter and Paul Church in Volkstedt, Germany.

Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany, and was brought by his parents to be baptized in St. Peter Church the day after he was born, as was the custom back then.

He grew up to become a monk, theologian, university professor, church reformer and the father of the Protestant Reformation. Luther gave his last sermon at St. Peter Church before he died Feb. 18, 1546, in Eisleben.

Luther’s followers and supporters formed what became the Lutheran Church.

To this day, adults and children are still baptized in the same baptismal font as baby Martin Luther 525 years ago.

The organizers of Luther’s baptismal celebration hope to have 525 congregations commit to participate in the Liturgy of Baptism and Baptismal Remembrance. The group is also aiming to baptize 525 individuals as part of the global celebration.

One Lutheran congregation in Mlandege, Tanzania reported on the organizer’s Web site that it will baptize 45 people on Tuesday.

The Lutheran church is in the midst of its decade of celebration honoring Martin Luther’s legacy. The “Luther Decade” kicked off September 2008 and will run until 2017 during which Lutherans will celebrate the Augustinian monk’s legacy and foster dialogue with people of other faiths and deepen theological conversation.