Action Zones 

From the Rectory October 2017 

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life


Simon WardRev Simon Ward
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish


 You may well hear in the coming weeks about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. To be honest, it’s probably not been engraved on your calendars and awaited with anticipation for years and there are probably more funky things happening in October. However, it is a significant event
The anniversary marks 500 years since 31st October 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses or statements to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther had a growing sense that the Roman Catholic Church needed to be changed and that there were things which were clearly wrong. At the heart of what Luther discovered was the love of God and his sense that the church was trying to control how God’s love was dealt. In particular Luther’s theses attacked the way the church sold “indulgences” which were letters assuring the recipient that after death they would receive less time suffering in purgatory. Luther came to realise that human beings come to God through his love and grace and that this is open to all
Within days of nailing the theses to the door they were translated and scribed at first in Latin and soon into German. Gradually his ideas found favour as scholars began to debate the matter and by the early 1520s various ideas, writings and thinkers were making their way across to Roman Catholic Britain. These ideas made it to Great Yarmouth where, of course, the great church of St Nicholas was Catholic like all other churches across the land. The ideas and writings would probably have been exchanged in hushed tones around the market places and churches of England
Change came across the land, culminating in Henry VIII’s split with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 although the reforming process had been brewing for a number of years. The sadness of the Reformation is that its legacy is a church divided. Jesus prayed that his followers would be one and that through this they would be a better witness to the world. So the Reformation is a painful reminder of failing to get along as one
The good news is that relations between Christians are better than a few generations ago. I am still new here in Great Yarmouth and I look forward to meeting with my ecumenical colleagues and finding out how we can share in the tasks we are given to do. And I think that Mr Luther would have been pleased to know that Christians could work together as we echo the prayer of Jesus that we may indeed, one day, all be one
With every blessing, Fr Simon


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