The Reformation

thereformationLeft Window Pane

The theme of the Reformation fittingly enters at this stage. John Wycliffe has been termed “the morning star of the Reformation”. He sent out poor preachers, modeled after the ways of St. Francis, to protest the riches of the Church. He never left the Roman Church, but he tried by active means to correct its abuses.

Wycliffe also translated the Bible into English. His followers were wiped out after his death. In the window both he and his disciples are carrying Bibles.

In the panel below is a printing press. Johann Gutenberg perfected the art of printing by inventing moveable type in 1450. The first book he printed was a Bible in Latin. In 1516 Erasmus’ edition of the New Testament in the Greek appeared with a new translation into Latin. This was printed by Johann Froben who also published Luther’s writings. William Tyndale issued in print the first English translation of the entire Bible in 1526. The important element of the Protestant Reformation was the act of people reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves. After the above events took place, the results became irreversible.

Center Window Pane

In the Lutheran Church the Reformation of the sixteenth century is synonymous with Martin Luther. It was he who gave the Lutheran Church its distinctive character of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone as the source and foundation of divine truth), Sola Gratia Salvation by God’s grace alone), and Sola Fide (Salvation appropriated by Faith Alone, itself the work of the Holy Spirit). Because of his impact, the Lutheran Church was named in his honor.

The great Doctor Martin Luther holds his Ninety-Five Theses which he nailed to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. Hammer and nails are seen at his feet. He is dressed in his Augustinian habit because he was a monk.

The medallion in the lower panel shows a chalice and a goose. These refer to John Hus, a leader of reform in Bohemia and a forerunner of Luther who lived a century earlier. Hus(s) means goose. He was also a victim of martyrdom. The chalice refers to the fact that he restored to the people Communion. He did this by giving both bread and wine to the communicants, as did Luther in Germany.

Right Window Pane

Nearly three centuries pass for the Church of the Reformation. In 1839, under the leadership of the Reverend Carl Ferdinand W. Walther, Saxon immigrants fled from Europe where freedom of worship was being jeopardized. They immigrated to the United States to begin a new life built around freedom. They came in several ships and sailed up the Mississippi River to settle in Missouri. He became the pastor of Trinity Church in St. Louis and began to publish a magazine entitled Der Lutheraner. Some of the immigrants moved to Perry County establishing a center there. During their first year they built a college and seminary out of logs. This is seen below Walther in the medallion. Behind him is a sailing ship and a wilderness clearning. He is holding a book and is preaching.

In 1847, congregations in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio organized a synod and made Walther their first president. Its seal is in the lower panel. Secondary symbols are mostly decorative, although in each case they are recognized for their meaning.

This window commemorates the 125th Anniversay of the Synod in 1972 with its theme: REJOICING IN MERCY.