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A campus-wide reflection on the way the Protestant Reformation has changed our world—for good and for ill.

Commemorating 500 Years Since the Protestant Reformation

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, sparking the Protestant Reformation. In light of that anniversary, the AU community will be embarking on a nine-week reflection on the significance of that event for our world.

Our campus-wide commemoration is interdisciplinary, involving every school of the University, and is wide-ranging: table talks, roundtables, chapel services, lectures, a film screening, a networking fair, a mock trial, an art exhibition, and a concert. We invite you to join the AU community as we reflect on the ways in which the Protestant Reformation has shaped our world-for good and for ill.

[Read: Reformation Anniversary Provides Opportunity for Cross-Campus Collaboration

Schedule of Events

Dates and times subject to change. Please check back to confirm.

Week 1: September 3-9

Kay Chapel, 12:00 p.m.

The regular monthly Interfaith Chapel Service will kick off our Reformation commemoration by looking at the importance of exploring our past to understand our present. Themes of remembrance and reflection will be explored as a way of launching the nine-week commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer

☞ To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Week 2: September 10-16

Bender Library, Library Screening Room, B51, 6 p.m.

Join us for a screening of the film "Luther" and a reflection on the life of the man who launched the Reformation.

Contact: Nancy Davenport

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Week 3: September 17-23

Kay Lounge, 12:00 p.m.

A roundtable conversation with Dr. Beverly Mitchell, Professor of Historical Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, and Dr. Josiah Young, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, moderated by University Chaplain Rev. Mark Schaefer. The conversation will discuss the ways that the Protestant tradition both helped to sustain and to oppose racist structures and the colonial enterprise. A free lunch for students will be provided. A $5 donation is requested of non-student attendees.

Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event or email

Week 4: September 24-30

Gianni Lounge (MGC 200), 6:30 p.m.

The spread of the printing press and revolutionary ideas about religious reform came together in the sixteenth century in a sometimes combustible mix. This presentation will discuss how print enabled Martin Luther, other reformers, and their opponents to spread their ideas, how it opened up religious debate to lay audiences in an unprecedented way, how it informed and polarized "public opinion," and how it contributed to religious strife and violence.

Contact: April Shelford

☞ To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

SIS Abramson Family Founders Room, 12:00 p.m.

Please join us for an interactive discussion of the evolution of the modern nation-state system from the Peace of Westphalia, and the associated Westphalian concept of state sovereignty, to the current system which aspires to balance the principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention with human rights promotion and protection. Central to this effort is the emergence of the contested norm of the responsibility to protect.

Contact: Jeff Bachman

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Gianni Lounge (MGC 200), 4:00 p.m.

"Seek true religion. O where?" asks John Donne. If not Rome, then Geneva, Wittenberg or Canterbury? The Reformation challenged Christians to read the Bible and reaffirm their faith. This meant soul-searching and questioning tradition. Join this workshop to find out how various English writers experienced the Reformation. Poems by John Donne, George Herbert and John Milton will take center stage.

Contact: Anita Sherman

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Week 5: October 1-7

12:00 p.m., SIS Abramson Family Founders Room

Please join SIS Professor Daniel Bernhofen in welcoming Professor Noel Johnson from George Mason University to speak about "The idea of religious freedom, state capacity and the reformation" and Dr. Ralf Meisenzahl from the Federal Reserve to speak about "Reformation law, public goods provision and economic growth".

Contact: Daniel Bernhofen

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Week 6: October 8-14

Kay Lounge, 12:00 p.m.

Join us for a table talk discussion with Professor Daniel Dreisbach of the School of Public Administration on the ways in which the legacy of the Protestant Reformation can be seen in American political culture. A free lunch will be served.

Contact: Daniel Dreisbach

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

MGC 2-4, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Explore the job opportunities in non-clergy religious vocation and explore the ways in which the Reformation increased lay involvement in the work of religion that still have ramifications (and employment opportunities!) today.

Contact: Anna Beatty

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Event

Week 7: October 15-21

Dadian Art Gallery, Wesley Theological Seminary 
October 17-December 15

The Dadian Art Gallery is holding an art exhibition called ReFORMation, an exploration of how the Protestant Reformation has shaped the work of local artists.

Contact: Kiki McGrath

Weinstein Moot Court Room, WCL, 6:30 p.m.

Martin Luther was convicted of heresy and his excommunication was affirmed by the Diet of Worms in 1521. Now his advocates seek to argue his case on appeal before a panel of jurists. Join us for a courtroom drama 500 years in the making.

Argument will be prepared by WCL law students and oral arguments presented before:

The Hon. David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
The Hon. Cornelia T.L. Pillard, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
The Hon. Robert L. Wilkins, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Contact: Richard Katskee

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook event

Week 8: October 22-28

Hughes Formal Lounge, 4:00 p.m.

Join Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Professor Martyn Oliver, and Rev. Mark Schaefer for the seventh installment of the “Texts and Traditions” series. Rabbi Berner, Dr. Oliver, and Rev. Schaefer will explore how the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam address the topic of reform.

Contact: Martyn Oliver

☞ To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook event

Doyle/Forman Theater; McKinley Bldg. 2nd floor, 6:30 p.m.

This program will feature a wide-ranging and audience-interactive discussion by two media historians of the School of Communication -- Dean Jeff Rutenbeck and Professor W. Joseph Campbell. They will address the disruptive effects of new media technology that spurred the Reformation, and consider evidence of such effects in contemporary contexts.

Contact: W. Joseph Campbell

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook event

Week 9: October 29-November 5

Kay Chapel, 12:00 p.m.

Join us for our regular Interfaith Chapel service on a special day, 500 years from the date that Martin Luther nailed his theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg. Our Lutheran and Catholic chaplains will offer reflections on the past and offer a glimpse of the road ahead and what it means for ecumenism and for the religious landscape in the future.

The AU Chamber Singers will also provide the music for the service and a preview of their all-Bach concert on November 4th and 5th.

A reception will follow with light refreshments. All are welcome to attend.

Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook event

AU Chamber Singers perform at Interfaith Chapel

 [Singing in German]


The American University Chamber Singers perform Bach's motet "Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf" as part of AU's commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation 

Kay Chapel, November 4th at 7:30 p.m., November 5th at 3 p.m.

As the culmination of the campus' semester-long celebration of the Reformation at 500, join us for an all-Bach program examining the impact of Reformation theology on music. Featuring the music of J. S. Bach, the greatest musical practitioner of the Lutheran movement, the concert will present three distinct liturgical forms as well as listening-lecture segments discussing the music and its relationship to theology throughout the program.

Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for faculty, staff, and the public, and may be purchased through the Department of Performing Arts site.

Contact: Daniel Abraham

To RSVP or for more information, visit our Facebook Events: ( Saturday Concert, Sunday Concert)

Interfaith Chapel: The Road Ahead

Learn more

By nailing his 95

theses to the cathedral door, Luther sparked a revolution

Guests attend the 50th Anniversary of Kay in the Chapel
In addition to our regular programming, Kay offers occasional one-time programs for special celebrations, anniversary events, or other unique programming.

Learn about special events

"Ein Feste Burg" by Martin Luther

Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
ein gute Wehr und Waffen.
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
die uns jetzt hat betroffen.
Der alt böse Feind
mit Ernst er's jetzt meint,
groß Macht und viel List
sein grausam Rüstung ist,
auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen.

Mit unsrer Macht ist nichts getan,
wir sind gar bald verloren;
es streit’ für uns der rechte Mann,
den Gott hat selbst erkoren.
Fragst du, wer der ist?
Er heißt Jesus Christ,
der Herr Zebaoth,
und ist kein andrer Gott,
das Feld muss er behalten.

Luther's original setting of Ein Feste Burg, "A Mighty Fortress"