Arts / Faith and Humanities

The Reformation at 500 Years

Written by Mike Thee

November 1, 2017

people gathered outside for a special service and tree planting

Image credit: Kurt Lorenz

A service and tree planting at SU provides an opportunity to recommit to interfaith dialogue.

Five hundred years ago this week, Martin Luther nailed to the door of a church in Wittenburg, Germany 95 theses or propositions questioning the Catholic Church’s use of indulgences. Thus was set into motion the Protestant Reformation and schism from the Church. 

Last week Catholics and Protestants alike gathered for a special service in the Chapel of St. Ignatius. Described as “an opportunity to pray for each other, to heal old wounds and to continue along the path of encounter and dialogue,” the service was followed by a tree planting on the south side of the Union Green. 

Participating in the service and tree planting were President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., and Bishop Kirby Unti of the Northwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. 

Bishop Unti (pictured above) spoke of the ties that bind Christians together with each other and with the Duwamish people on whose ancestral land the new cedar tree was planted. “We’re standing under one tree,” he said. “It is when we come together in our brokenness that we begin to grow.”

“We’re very proud to be able to plant this tree,” said Father Sundborg, who noted that the tree is a living symbol that will hold special significance for the SU community for years to come. 

The cedar is expected to grow quickly and reach a height of 50-60 feet. Attendees were invited to get the growth process going by sprinkling some water on the tree. 

Long a model for ecumenical partnership and interreligious dialogue, the School of Theology and Ministry organized the service and tree planting in collaboration with the Center for Jesuit Education and Grounds Department.

“Given the challenges of our world today, we aim to gather where ever people and religions pursue deeper unity,” said Michael Trice, associate dean for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue at the School of Theology and Ministry. “We are genuinely grateful to partner with these friends and colleagues across the university.”