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Joint prayer service between Roman Catholics and Lutherans slated for Sept. 11

An ecumenical prayer service next week will bring Roman Catholics and Lutherans together for a joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Sept. 11 service will begin at 7 p.m. at Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church, 2650 Farnam St., in Omaha, and brings together Omaha Archbishop George J. Lucas, and Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), along with the wider Catholic and Protestant communities in the Omaha area.

The service stems from one of the central directives of From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017, a joint publication of the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, urging Lutherans and Catholics to seek moments to come together in prayer.

“We are trying as best we can to embody what church leaders on both sides agreed to in From Conflict to Communion,” said the Rev. Ashley Hall, PhD, an associate professor of theology at Creighton University and the ecumenical officer for the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA. “Sitting together, praying together, reading Scripture together is where we can find the common ground we share.”

Bishop Maas will preside over the service with Archbishop Lucas delivering the sermon. The service will also include readings from Scripture and ecumenical documents and the choirs of St. Cecilia Cathedral and Kountze Memorial will join in singing hymns and psalms.

In addition to the Reformation, the service also jointly marks 50 years of a continued Roman Catholic and Lutheran dialogue that produced From Conflict to Communion.

This is the second such event to mark the anniversaries. On May 1, both bishops celebrated a similar service at St. Cecilia Cathedral that drew more than 500 worshipers.

Pope Francis has been encouraging similar gatherings around the world as the Oct. 31, 2017 date marking 500 years since Martin Luther published his 95 Theses nears. In Sweden in October 2016, the Pope took part in a prayer service marking the 499th anniversary of the Reformation with Bishop Munic Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation.

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