Belfast Telegraph

Catholic clerics set to join Presbyterians at Reformation forums

By Alf McCreary

Senior clerics from the Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church are to take part in a series of seminars on the Protestant Reformation.

The four seminars - The Unfinished Reformation - will take place in the Presbyterian theological Union College in Belfast to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The college's teaching staff will provide three speakers, while a Catholic view will be given by a former UK Ambassador to the Vatican, Newry-born Francis Campbell. Dr Campbell, who is the current vice-chancellor of St Mary's University, Twickenham, will speak on October 2 on the topic The Roman Catholic Church and Reformation.

Another joint seminar titled Presbyterians and Catholics: Areas of Common Concern will be held at the same venue on October 9.

It will be taken by Rev Trevor Gribben, clerk of the general secretary and secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and Father Tim Bartlett, the secretary general of the World Meeting of Families, which will meet in Dublin next August - an event Pope Francis is scheduled to attend.

The seminars are a follow-on from some of the issues raised in the college's Luther 500 Conference held in January.

Union College principal Professor Stafford Carson said it is hoped that the seminars will encourage people to consider the ongoing legacy of the Reformation.

"We will look at what areas has the Church continued to be reformed since the 16th century, and in what areas does it still need to be reformed," he said. "I hope that this series of seminars will create a greater awareness of the Reformation, its meaning and its ongoing legacy, especially in Ireland."

The first seminar will take place this Monday (September 25) at 7.30pm, with the main speaker being Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick from Union College.

The fourth seminar will take place on October 16, when the speakers will be Dr Martyn Cowan and Dr Zach Cole from Union College.

Each seminar will cost £7.50, or £25 to attend all four.

Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has announced an island-wide programme to mark the anniversary of the Reformation.

The three celebratory events - which are free and open to all -will be held on October 17 in Abbey Presbyterian Church Dublin, in the Waterside Theatre in Londonderry on October 18, and on the next evening at the Assembly Buildings in Belfast. All three events start at 7.30pm.

The Rev David Johnston, the leader of the organising team, said that each event will combine worship, reflection, discussion and music.

October 31 will mark the 500th anniversary of the dramatic initiative of the Augustinian Friar Martin Luther who in 1517 nailed 95 short theological statements to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and thereby changed the course of world social, ecclesiastical and political history.

The Reformation is considered to have lasted across Europe until 1648 and sparked the birth of modern day Protestantism.

Belfast Telegraph

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