Skip to main content

It was clear from the beginning: the Luther-Decade is also a Reformation-Decade. On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, the Swiss Protestant reformer, the first annual theme focused attention on the Reformed churches of the Protestant community. The 75th anniversary of the ‘Barmen declaration’ was also commemorated in the context of the annual theme, ‘Reformation and confession’.

Jean (John) Calvin was born in Noyon in Picardy, about 100 kilometres north of Paris, in 1509. He is considered the ‘founding father' of Reformed Protestantism, with its approximately 80 million members around the world.

Travelling exhibitions, Scholarly conferences and conventions about Calvin

The German Historical Museum in Berlin devoted the temporary exhibition ‘Calvinism: the Reformed Protestants in Germany and Europe’ to the upper German Reformation, which was decisively influenced by Calvin.

The ‘Reformierter Bund’ (Reformed Federation) organised a travelling exhibition on Calvin together with a great number of parishes. The Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) created a travelling exhibition as well; it recalled the story of the spread of Calvin's teachings in Anhalt and Brandenburg.

Scholarly conferences and conventions also concerned themselves with the Genevan Protestant reformer. The series of talks ‘Was tun, Herr Calvin? – Gegenwartsfragen im Horizont des Calvinismus' (What to do, Mr Calvin? – current issues from a Calvinistic perspective) attempted to establish a connection between Calvin’s views on money, discipline, resistance, iconoclasm, and democracy and the problems of today’s world.

The play ‘Calvin: Genéve en Flammes’ was written in honour of the Protestant reformer and provided the Calvin-year with a special highlight. It was performed before the 'Mur des Reformateurs', the famous Genevan monument to the Reformation, in the summer of 2009. In powerful images, Calvin's life and influence in Geneva were set on stage.

Pilgrimage route to stretch through the ‘heartland of the German Reformation’

The year 2009 also placed tourism at the centre of the preparations for the Anniversary Celebration of the Reformation. On the seventh and eighth of October, a workshop in Erfurt dealt with the forms, functions, and organisation of faith tourism. The aims of Luther tourism, with its aspects of education, faith, and event, were discussed there; the session was primarily used to exchange experiences and expectations.

The Luther Path is directed at both pilgrims and tourists and links various Luther sites. On Luther's birthday, November 10, the Luther Paths in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia were joined together by means of a sixteen-kilometre section of trail. This link is intended to enable a future pilgrimage route to stretch through the ‘heartland of the German Reformation’ – at a length of approximately 800 kilometres. The Saxon portion of the Luther Path is to follow.

On June 18, the German Bundestag discussed the Anniversary Celebration of the Reformation in 2017 and declared it to be an 'event of world historical significance'.