Pastor Jeff Swanson St. John Lutheran Chruch

The Rev. Jeff Swanson is shown with pictures of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina at St. John Lutheran Church in Sioux City.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | Five hundred years ago this month, Martin Luther brought about the Protestant Reformation in Europe when he publicized his 95 Theses, a listing of grievances with the Catholic Church. Soon thereafter began the formation of the Protestant denominations we know today.

To honor this momentous anniversary, ELCA Lutheran congregations throughout Siouxland are gathering at First Lutheran Church, 3939 Cheyenne Blvd., at 4 p.m. on Sunday for a special service featuring old and new hymns accompanied by a brass quartet, hand bells and a festival choir.

The Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, bishop emerita of the South Dakota Synod/ELCA, will be the preacher at the service, delivering the sermon; The Rev. Rodger Prois, bishop of the Western Iowa Synod/ELCA, will be the presider, leading the liturgy.

A German-style meal will follow the worship service, during which a medieval woodwind group will perform, and Luther re-enactors will be on hand.

The area ELCA congregations organizing the event are joined in planning by local members of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church - USA and the United Church of Christ, which are all "ecumenical partners" of the ELCA.

Cindy Lippke, director of Christian education at First Lutheran, said organizers are expecting a good number of attendees.

"This has been opened up to the entire northwest Iowa area, and we are expecting -- our church holds about 500 people -- they're expecting a large crowd," she said.

The Rev. Jeff Swanson of St. John Lutheran Church in Sioux City said all are welcome to come and take part.

"It's open now to the entire community, to all people wishing to celebrate, commemorate, remember," Swanson said.

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