Churches worldwide are encouraged to adopt one of 500 trees being planted in a special "Luther Garden" in Wittenberg in eastern Germany to mark the 500th anniversary in 2017 of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. and also to plant a tree themselves to denote a link with the birthplace of the Reformation.
The first tree is to be planted in 2008 on 31 October, which is known as Reformation Day. This marks the day in 1517 when Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirche (castle church), thereby setting in train his breach with the Roman Catholic Church.
"The Luther Garden will be a symbol of solidarity, interconnectedness and reconciliation between Christian churches throughout the world," said the Rev. Norbert Denecke, executive secretary of the LWF’s German National Committee.
He said Lutheran churches as well as those belonging to other traditions such as Anglican, Methodist and Reformed will be approached to sponsor a tree. Catholic dioceses are also to be invited to take part, he noted.
"We don’t want to be a museum," said Wittenberg’s mayor, Eckhard Naumann, announcing the initiative at a 16 November media conference in Geneva where the Lutheran World Federation has its headquarters. "We want to be a place where there is a living process of communication."
The Luther Garden is being planned around a landscaped adaptation of the Luther Rose, a symbol of Lutheranism that is based on the seal with which the Protestant Reformer authenticated his correspondence.
Luther himself is said to have seen trees as a sign of hope, being reputed to have once said, "If I knew the world was to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today."
The plan for the Luther Garden is the brainchild of Denecke and landscape architect Andreas Kipar, who said, "We don’t want to have a one-time event but something that can already begin in 2008."
(Source: ENI – www.eni.ch)