Friday, September 28, 2007
As most Canadians look forward to a relaxing weekend, hundreds of volunteers in 195 Lutheran churches across Canada are making last-minute preparations for the first-ever National Lutheran Open House. Since February, congregations of Lutheran Church–Canada have spent countless hours finding creative ways to connect with their communities.
At Winnipeg’s Peace Lutheran Church, the Open House includes a performance tent on the parking lot, an oversized barbecue for cooking the free hot dogs and crafts for the kids. Free food, a warm welcome and fun for the whole family is on the agenda at Messiah Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Ontario. Saturday plans at Nanaimo’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Church include free hot dogs, ice cream, kids crafts, quilting, and a concert.
“Our people want to meet their neighbours,” explains Lutheran Church–Canada president, Rev. Dr. Ralph Mayan. “Our congregation in Wellesley, Ontario (just outside Kitchener) is using the Open House to celebrate its 155th anniversary.”
The Lutheran church is a direct result of Martin Luther, a monk and teacher, nailing 95 Theses on the door of City Church in Wittenberg, Germany each describing what he believed were practices of the Roman Catholic Church not based on the Bible. The Roman church disputed his contentions, refused to reform its position, and so was born the Protestant Reformation. Those following Luther’s teachings became known as Lutherans. This year, October 31 marks the 490th anniversary of Luther’s actions.
In Canada, Lutheran missionary activity in the mid-19th century from church bodies in the US, followed by waves of immigration from Europe, swelled the number of members over the last 100 years. Lately, Lutherans from Africa, one of the fastest growing regions of the church, are finding a home in Canada’s churches. Worldwide, there are more than 65 million Lutheran Christians, and more than 600,000 in Canada.
Lutheran Church–Canada was founded in 1988 by Canadian congregations of the St. Louis-based The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. With more than 325 congregations and 75,000 members from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, it is the second largest Lutheran church body in Canada.