Phil-Mont commemorates Church History Week at the end of October each year. The Board of the school entered into its minutes over two decades ago that the week on which October 31st (Reformation Day) falls would be officially recognized as such. Over those years the school has had special chapels and assemblies recognizing important events, individuals and movements which, by God’s providence, have had an impact on the church. Chief in regard to the annual recognition is the Reformation Day Writing Contest which affords some of the best writers in the middle and high school student body an opportunity to submit their work for scrutiny by outside judges. Many students have entered the contest over the years, writing across a wide range of topics.
This year’s Church History Week afforded a special opportunity for commemoration, because October 31, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. According to most historians, this seemingly obscure event – at the time – touched off the Protestant Reformation. In view of this anniversary, Phil-Mont challenged the faculty to bring the importance of this historic event to the students. On the 31st a number of things occurred during the school day to make this a reality.
In the elementary school, the teachers presented special lessons to their students about Martin Luther and his significance in the history of the church. The elementary students were also treated to a presentation by Mrs. Linda Finlayson, a children’s author who specializes in church history for young people. She spoke on who else but Martin Luther.
In the middle school, the teachers in the each of the disciplines presented lessons which corresponded to the time period in question. The students in Bible class were even visited by Martin Luther himself (aka Dr. Joe Chi). A part of Luther’s presentation to these students was a challenge to the students to post their own theses on the Bible classroom door.
In the high school, classes were suspended for the day and the students were allowed to sign up for special classes being offered by the faculty. These classes ranged from architecture in the church during the time period and how the Reformation changed that environment to women of the Reformation to everyday life in late Medieval Europe to science and math innovations of the time. Mr. Dan Kunkle took his students through the 95 Theses while Mr. Liegel had his students do – what else – a dramatic reenactment of the momentous events of the time. One of the highlights of the commemoration day, of course, was the Reformation Day Writing Contest Awards Assembly. The topic for this year? You guessed it – the significance of Martin Luther and the 95 Theses.
Middle School winners: Karis Dharmawirya (1st), Ewan Chi (2nd), and David Olinger (3rd) – above
High School winners: Ben Chi (1st), Jeremiah Hooks (2nd), Alizee Berdoulat (3rd), Logan Crosby & Micah Shaw (Honorable Mention) – left
The evening prior to the event, the Phil-Mont community enjoyed an hour-long lecture on the significance of Martin Luther by Dr. Carl R. Trueman, professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. Trueman, a Luther scholar, enlightened the audience on a number of related topics including the human side of Luther. VIEW THE LECTURE
Attendance at the lecture was estimated at about 200 with many from outside the Phil-Mont community as well as many students.
By all accounts, Phil-Mont’s quincentennial commemoration of Luther and his posting of the 95 Theses was a tremendous success. It is believed that all students – grades K through 12 – came away with a greater appreciation of God’s work in the history of His church.
And as the students were reminded, this was ultimately a work of God, not the work of Martin Luther. If anything was gained, the students and faculty took away from this the fact that God uses broken, sinful vessels like Martin Luther along with the likes of Abraham, Joseph, David, the prophets, Peter and Paul – and even you and me – to do His will for His greater glory and for the benefit of His church. Soli Deo Gloria!
So, now what? Starting making your plans for the millennial commemoration of Martin Luther and the posting of the 95 Theses. Tempus fugit!