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TORRINGTON, CONN (SZS) — “The roots of the Reformation that began with Martin Luther’s 95 theses in 1517 are being remembered and watered already in the Luther Garden in Wittenberg, Germany. “They are going to grow and thrive in the city as green monuments to the memory of 500 years of living Reformation to be commemorated in 2017.”

As the entire Lutheran World Federation (LWF) communion looks forward with anticipation to 2017, the Luther Decade will focus on various themes. The focus of 2011 is the Reformation and Freedom; 2012 will be the Reformation and Music.

Churches have been invited to plant a tree in the garden, which is shaped like the Luther rose seal. The response has been so great that they have stopped making arrangements for this until they are able to plant what has already been requested. By 2017, the hope is that there will be 500 trees planted in the Luther Garden and around Wittenberg as well as another 500 sister trees planted all over the world to represent the good news going out from Wittenberg so many years ago.

Bishop Wilma Kucharek, on behalf of the Slovak Zion Synod, planted a Small Leaf Linden Tree on Reformation Day, 2011, during the 4th International Seminar of the Lutheran World Federation. A child from the Protestant Primary School of Wittenberg assisted in watering the tree. A marker in front of the tree denotes it as being from the Synod in commemoration of the Reformation anniversary. LWF Wittenberg Center Director Hans Kasch was on hand for the planting of the tree. Fourteen trees were planted that day.

For the Lutheran World Federation, the worldwide dimension of the project supports its fundamental notion of the church, as it has been phrased in its constitution: The Lutheran World Federation confesses the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and wants to serve the unity of Christianity. On this basis, the Lutheran World Federation wants to underline the ecumenical significance of the Reformation anniversary and its importance for the ecumenical relationships.

The project was initiated by the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva. Its realization has been supported by the German National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation, the United Evangelical Church in Germany and the Luther City of Wittenberg.

According to the plans of the landscape architect Andreas Kipar (Milan/Duisburg), the Luther Garden has an oval shape and will contain 270 trees from all continents. 230 additional trees will be planted in the area of the old fortification of the city of Wittenberg , so that there will be 500 trees altogether, symbolizing the 500 years since the Reformation.

The center of the garden is paved in the shape of a Luther rose. In several places, the measurements of the garden reflect the number 95, the number of Luther’s theses. Paths and alleys connect the park with the world. Some of them lead to the city center of Wittenberg, some lead to the Castle Church, and some lead to the City Church, all of which are sites of Reformation history. In-between, there are orchards with local fruit trees.

The entire Luther Garden will be built in nine construction stages between 2009 and 2017.

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