St Mary’s church hosted a service for members of all the local churches on Sunday October 29, to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther, considered the main instigator of the Reformation in the 16th century.
Canon Richard Orchard, secretary of Churches Together in Rye (CTR), opened with a welcome, followed by the singing of the hymn A Safe Stronghold our God is Still, written by Luther. Canon David Frost (St Mary’s) and Ann Hamilton (St Anthony’s) led an act of penance which recognised that “the Gospel was mixed with the political and economic interests of those in power” and expressing “ deep regret for the evil things that Catholics and Protestants have mutually done to each other”. There was also contrition for the divisions, discrimination and violence that had ensued, but acknowledging the forgiveness and enlightenment that comes through Christ alone.
At this point, the special choir which had been organised by Patrick Cox-Smith (organist) sang its first anthem, Malcolm Arnold’s setting of Lord of all hopefulness, followed by bible passages read by Paul Martin (Methodist church) and the Revd Fiona Gill (Baptist church). It was somewhat of a surprise to have a sermon about Martin Luther given by a Roman Catholic priest, but Fr Mark White CP (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Herne Bay) held the congregation in the palm of his hand as he fleshed out the life and work of Luther, expounding so clearly the importance of and need for the reformation at this time, even though it led, sadly, to a split in the church. He drew our attention to other national and international commemorations of Martin Luther, 500 happening at this time. It was truly a message of inspiration to encourage the CTR to new dimensions of unity and fellowship, so watch this space for future ventures.
Following the choir’s rendering of John Rutter’s Clare Benediction, Canon David Frost (St Mary’s) led intercessions and after an act of thanksgiving led by Janet Waddams (St Mary’s), he pronounced a benediction. Everyone then adjourned to the Clare chapel for tea/coffee and Anne Wood’s famous cookies.
Photos: Sandra Lanigan and Kenneth Bird