The biggest Bible in the world, the medieval city’s panorama, or a robot instead of a pastor giving blessings these were the attractions at the World Reformation Exhibition, which commemorated the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation the moment when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of his local church.
During the week from 30th August to 4th September the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren made a presentation together with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession. The churches offered a fresh view on the Czech Reformation, guided tours of two exhibitions, led discussions with the representatives of churches and Diakonie, and provided ecological and musical programmes.
The tent of the union was located in Luthergarten – Luther’s garden, where trees of various churches were planted. A maple planted in 2011 by the pastor Lenka Rizdoňová represented the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren.
Within the Czech week we offered a very rich programme of music that resonated repeatedly through the tent and invited people in. A concert, ‘Brass Impressions’ was performed by a brass quartet on the square in the historical centre of Wittenberg . The ECHO choir from Zlín,under the lead of the church cantor Ladislav Moravetz, also performed. Margot Kässmann, the envoy of the Evangelical Church in Germany for Reformation’s anniversary, welcomed the choir; she herself visited Prague three times during the anniversary’s preparations. At the moment when the choir sang a new song by Ladislav Moravetz, on the motifs of Luther's song ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’, the bells of the historic city church rang and framed the singing with the main tones of the song.
Music from the time of the Reformation was played on historical instruments in the city church by Tomáš Najbrt, who reminded those present that the Brethren Union also issued and used those German hymns in the Renaissance period.
In the tent, visitors had the opportunity to look at a bilingual exhibition, on the Reformation in the Czech Lands, produced by the German Cultural Forum of Central and Eastern Europe to remind everyone that the Reformation was and is "more than Luther”.
During two interviews, the Synodary Senior of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, Daniel Ženatý, and SCEAV Bishop Tomáš Tyrlík met. Among other things, they noted that there is a great deal of fear today, just like in the times of the Reformation, And the Reformation may be an inspiration in how to respond to it.
The World Reformation Exhibition was opened in May in Wittenberg by the arrival of the Reformation Truck, which had travelled through Europe last year and visited cities connected to the Reformation. The exhibition ended on September 11th, the week when the Czech churches were thematically focused on care for creation. That is why the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren offered interesting ecological programmes, under the baton of Ilona Mužátková from the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board, in addition to the Lutheran World Association, the Czech-German Future Fund and the German Partner Church of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren,also supported the presentation of the Czech Churches.
Visitors could also visit other parts of the World Exhibition or explore Wittenberg. The world's highest bible stood at the station. A twenty-seven-meter-long book, printed on one side with the complete Luther translation of the Bible, was also a viewing platform offering a view of the city centre. This installation was one of the seven "gates of freedom" that linked the main axis of the World Exhibition. The thematic parts were devoted to spirituality, culture, justice and peace, globalisation or youth. The exhibition included 70 pavilions, stages, tents and exhibition venues, where the churches or representatives of civil society presented their view of the Reformation.
Other attractions were, for example, a view from a Ferris wheel, a boat on one of the ponds that recently brought 190 refugees to the Italian shores, or just a truck travelling all year round across European countries and telling stories of the Reformation of many European cities.
The history of the Reformation also travels around the Czech Republic
The bilingual exhibition, which visitors could see at the Wittenberg tent, is currently travelling in two copies around the Czech Republic and Germany. It includes ten richly illustrated banners devoted to a wide range of themes – Jan Hus, the Hussites, Evangelical streams in the 16th century, Martin Luther, Czech Brethren, Lutheran centres, religious diversity in Moravia, the Counter-Reformation, the post-Tolerance Patent, and Protestantism in the 20th century and today. After Dobříš and Prague, where the exhibition was installed in September, it visited Pardubice in October and, until next summer it, will travel around the other Evangelical churches.
Jana Vondrova, Oliver Engelhardt
(Written for Bulletin)