Unity celebration Sunday

It was on Oct. 31, 1517, that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. This was the start of the church’s Reformation, which has had its effect on the entire Christian church. This year, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the start of this reformation.

To commemorate this event, various Christian churches in the Dunkirk-Fredonia community, under the leadership of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, will gather together in a celebration of unity. Plans are underway by local clergy for a service to be held at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. The keynote speaker will be the Right Rev. William Franklin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

Bishop Franklin was consecrated as Bishop in 2011, being 1057th in the succession of bishops in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Franklin was serving as the senior associate priest at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, a position he had held since July 2010, at the time of his election. Prior to this, he worked for five years in Italy where he was an associate priest at St. Paul’s Within the Walls in Rome. While in Italy, he also served as associate director of the American Academy in Rome, a fellow and associate priest of the Anglican Centre in Rome and vicar of the Church of the Resurrection in Orvieto.

Earlier in his career he was dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was also a professor at General Theological Seminary and at St. John’s University in Minnesota.

Bishop Franklin was born in Brookhaven, Miss., on Jan. 3, 1947. He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a P.H.D. in church history from Harvard. In the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Bishop Franklin served as a member and as president of the Council of Advice and as a member of the leadership team and weaver for Transformed by Stories Christian Formation Program in the European Institute of Christian Studies.

As a member of the laity, he served in the Diocese of Minnesota on the Standing Committee and as chairman of the board of the Episcopal House of Prayer Retreat Center For the National Church, he served on the standing commission on Ministry Development and as chair of its Theological Committee, the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, and was appointed a consultant to the 1998 Lambeth conference of Bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

At the time of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Bishop Franklin will be emphasizing this as being the ‘New Reformation.’

This service will help Christians understand that each denomination has contributed to the Christian church as a whole, and even though we are not exactly alike, we are not divided. We are a unified group of followers of Christ.

In this time of what some may call Christian apathy and dissention, the local church leaders are joining together in a celebration of Christian faith and unity. In this troubled world and country, with its excessive amount of unexplained violence, all are invited to attend this service. In a small way, in our little community, through prayer together, we can attempt to reflect a model of Christian peace and harmony.