Prayer service commemorates 500 years since Reformation (Little Rock, Ark.)

When Jesus proclaimed himself as the true vine and God the Father as the vine grower in John’s Gospel (15:1-5), he emphasized the need for people to be unified to him, the branches outstretched.

It is a message of unity, shared with the faithful at the Lutheran-Catholic prayer service held at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock Oct. 30, a day before the anniversary of Reformation, the split of Protestantism 500 years ago. The joint prayer service “From Conflict to Fellowship: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation,” was led by both Diocese of Little Rock Bishop Anthony B. Taylor and Bishop Michael Girlinghouse of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). A reception followed the service.

“We’ve come a long way together in the last 50 years, but we’ve still got a long way to go before Christian unity can be fully restored and this wound in the heart of the Church healed,” Bishop Taylor said in his homily about the dialogue that’s taken place between the churches since the 1960s.

Since June, Catholic and Protestant leaders from the ELCA Lutheran denomination, United Methodist, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches have met locally to discuss their understanding of salvation, Church authority and the Eucharist. Though there are still divisions, coming together in prayer on the 500th commemoration of the Reformation, which took place after Martin Luther wrote his “Ninety-five Theses” protesting the Catholic Church, is a sign of commonality.

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