The Francis Asbury Society

The Wittenberg Congress 2017: Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

Posted on | November 9, 2017 | Leave a Response

By Lane Loman, FAS Speaker

Wittenberg Congress 2017Dr. Davis, an Assembly of God evangelist, and the late Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, created the Global Church Network for the purpose of reaching a billion unsaved people with the gospel by the year 2030. The Wittenberg Congress was organized and scheduled to provide church leaders and Christians from around the world an opportunity to gather to acknowledge the impact Luther’s actions had upon church history. It was held in Berlin, Germany, from October 30 to November 1, 2017, and concluded with approximately 500 Congress attendees participating in a worship celebration inside the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am thankful I was privileged to experience this historic, spiritual event.

Featured speakers for the Wittenberg Congress, among others, included Dr. Gustavo Crocker, general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Doug Beacham, presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, Dr. Timothy Hill, general overseer of the Church of God, Dr. Leonard Sweet, professor of evangelism at Drew University, Dr. Jo Anne Lyons, general superintendent (retired) of the Wesleyan Church, and Dr. James O. Davis, Assembly of God evangelist and co-founder of the Global Church Network.

The theme and challenge from each speaker pointed to one mission and goal: reaching every peo-ple group and language with the gospel by 2030. The following highlights are from messages shared during the Congress sessions.

  • Dr. Leonard Sweet used Martin Luther’s own words in the opening session, “The Bible is the manger in which Christ was laid. The scriptures are alive, they speak to me. The scriptures have feet, they run after me. The scriptures have hands, they lay hold on me.”
  • Dr. Gustavo Crocker reminded us, “Your church must strengthen its identity, identify its mission, and fulfill its purpose.” Dr. Crocker confirmed that collaboration works. In his home country of Guatemala, 40 percent of the population are Christian because the Church of the Nazarene, the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, and the Quaker Church worked together to spread the gospel.
  • Dr. Doug Beacham spoke of “convergent synergy.” Luther impacted the political, social, and religious segments of his day. He heard the Bible anew, finding his answer regarding righteousness and peace. He used the technology offered (the Gutenberg press) to pro-mote his beliefs. He influenced educators and succeeded in winning over the entire faculty of Wittenberg University. He believed in transformational relationships, looking to Africans in Ethiopia to help trace the roots of Christianity.
  • Suliasi Kurolo, pastor of the largest church in the Figi Islands, challenged us by saying, “Plant that lasts for a season: flowers. Plant that lasts for a lifetime: trees. Plant that lasts for eternity: church.” Pastor Kurolo also reminded us “prayer is not a spiritual gift; it is a discipline, and fasting brings power to that discipline.”
  • At the Castle Church in Wittenberg, in his concluding address, Dr. Davis shared an interview he had with Sir Edmund Hillary in 2007. Hillary was the first person to successfully climb Mt. Everest. Dr. Davis asked Hillary for any words of wisdom he might have. In responding, Hillary said, “Don’t just do what others have done. You will only end up feeling what others have felt. Do what no one else has done, and you experience what no one else ever has.” Dr. Davis proposed to those present that our Mt. Everest is the Great Commission, and our task is to fulfill that commission, accomplishing that which no one else has ever done.

Lane at Church DoorsI brought so much away from my time at the Wittenberg Congress. Of the many messages and people I heard and met, one reality became crystal clear: We are not alone in our desire to complete Jesus’ mandate to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Regardless of background, church affiliation, ethnicity, or education, people from all walks of life are interested in the souls of those who have not yet heard the gospel. Working together, we can do this! In the words of Dr. Leonard Sweet in his concluding remarks at the Castle Church, “Luther proclaimed, ‘Here I stand,’ we must embrace a new position, ‘There we go!’”

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