There is a new—and at the same time familiar—face on Concordia University Wisconsin’s campus.
A bronze statue of Martin Luther was installed Wednesday, April 6, in front of the campus’ main entrance. A special dedication chapel service, with message from President Ferry, will take place Friday, April 15, at 9:30 a.m. in the Chapel of Christ Triumphant.
Afterwards, all are invited outdoors to the statue’s site for a dedication ceremony, led by Campus Pastor Steve Smith.
For the creation of the statue, Concordia’s Reformation 500 Committee commissioned CUW alumnus Andrew Schumann. The 5-foot-tall, slightly larger-than-life Luther (he was really only 5-foot-4 at the most) stands on a 2.5-foot-tall pedestal, with one hand pointing a finger to the heavens and the other holding an open Bible. On the Bible is inscribed a verse from Romans (3:28), “For we hold that one is justified, without the works of the law, alone through faith.”
“Our committee felt that this verse captured Luther’s work as a reformer, translator, and Bible teacher,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Maschke, professor of theology and committee chair. “This is one of the key Reformation verses in Luther’s understanding of God’s gracious, full, and free gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation.”
The statue comes in advance of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany, thus drawing into question the church’s false notion that, among other things, forgiveness and grace could be bought. Even though 2017 marks the actual milestone year, many Lutherans are marking the historic occasion with events or commemorations leading up to it.
At CUW, members of the specially formed Reformation 500 Committee began in 2012 to organize and host bi-annual public lectures in the fall and spring to celebrate the variety of ways in which the Reformation has impacted theology and the Church, as well as the arts and sciences. The committee has a special symposium planned for next year.
In addition to the Reformation celebration, the installation of the Martin Luther statue precedes the 66th Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, which will take place this summer in Milwaukee. Every three years the national convention brings together well over 1,000 LCMS pastors, advisory delegates and lay voting delegates to worship, join in fellowship, and take legislative action on important Church matters, including electing a synodical president.
Of course, the statue will continue to beautify the campus and pay homage to the namesake of Concordia’s synod even after the two momentous events.
“I think as a Lutheran campus, obviously we want to keep that Lutheran heritage,” said Maschke. “The Reformation is a good opportunity for us to do something like that. It becomes a public witness.”
Learn more about Concordia’s upcoming Reformation 500 events at www.cuw.edu/reformation500.