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Zion and Redeemer Lutheran churches reunite to celebrate 500th anniversary of Reformation

Members of Redeemer Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church held a Reformation celebration party Sunday in Hinsdale that looked a lot like Oktoberfest. There was music, bratwurst and beer, and an Katie Luther impersonator.

Kathy Manofsky of Redeemer and Keith Larson of Zion organized the event for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, that period in the early to mid-1500s when Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses and advocated for church reform.

Redeemer and Zion amicably split into two churches themselves in 1922 when the Zion church wanted to continue to hold services in German and the people who formed Redeemer wanted services in English, said Suzanne McGivney, president of Zion Lutheran Church.

Zion is a congregation of the more traditional Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, while Redeemer is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The two have always had “a bit of a fraught relationship,” said Rev. Katie Hines-Shah, pastor of Redeemer.

For example, the Missouri Synod does not allow joint worship services and communion with members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hines-Shah said. And unlike the Evangelical Lutherans, which allow women ministers and pastors, the Lutheran-Missouri Synod does not ordain women, she said.

The celebration, held in a tent set up in the Zion Lutheran parking lot, included a trivia game with questions about Lutheran history and Oktoberfest.

Marnie Smith, a former teacher at Zion Lutheran School, and her late husband, David Smith, an associate pastor at St. John Lutheran’s Church in La Grange, used to portray Martin Luther and his wife, Katie, in school and church presentations.

Zion Lutheran called her to ask if she would reprise her role as Katie for the 500th anniversary celebration.

Smith’s portrayal focuses on Katie’s life and Martin’s role as a family man. Martin was a monk and Katie was a nun before they married and had six children together.

Martin Luther used to believe that being a monk or a nun were the highest callings you could have in the church, because of the sacrifices they made, Smith said. But he came to believe that having a Christian family was just as high a calling.

Martin Luther was a professor and his wife raised the children, entertained the dozens of guest he brought home, tended a garden, their cows and other livestock, and brewed beer, too, Smith said.

“She was quite a woman for the age she lived in,” said Smith, who will do a monologue as Katie Luther for an Oct. 29 celebration of the 500th anniversary at St. John’s in La Grange. The celebration will include a church picnic.

“I have a lot of hope that this kind of party is the start of more opportunities to work together and continue to be the church that is reforming for the sake of the world,” Hines-Shah said.

Twitter @kfDoings

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