The month of May is expected to be a very busy time for those with ties to the local Lutheran scene in Montreal. As Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson tells, a well-known musical act will hit the stage in early May in a fundraising effort, while a reformation conference is scheduled for the following two days.
“We have ourselves an incredibly busy few days in May to help mark the reformation,” Anderson said. “On May 7th, Connie Kaldor – who is a Canadian folk singer that grew up singing in a Lutheran choir, but is now a folk singer – will be performing in Montreal’s West Island. Then the next two days we host our big Reformation in the City Conference, featuring scholars from Helsinki, the United States and all over. The conference will be a joint initiative of Concordia and McGill Universities – definitely something to be excited about.”
Later in the year, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will also be putting on a special event to commemorate the anniversary of the Reformation and the coming together of The Lutheran World Federation and Roman Catholic Church in Lund, October 2016 – an event that highlighted 50 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics and the joint gifts of this collaboration.
“One of our local pastors is quite plugged in to the music scene in Montreal,” Rev. Dr. Anderson said. “He has helped to arrange for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to play a reformation-themed concert, which will be introduced by the director of the MSO, Mr. Kent Nagano – an internationally known symphony director.”
In focusing on the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, two of Rev. Dr. Anderson’s congregations – Montreal based St. Michael’s Finnish, and St. John’s Estonian – have already made significant donations towards tree planting in Palestine and to scholarships for students in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).
“The way that the Reformation Challenge has worked out in Montreal has kind of taken several different tracks,” Anderson said. “Some churches are trying to raise money with events, while others are giving money directly to the national church through the synod. So for smaller congregations like St. Michael’s and St. John’s that aren’t able to actually host a big event, they have given a direct donation. Those two congregations have already donated seven thousand dollars to scholarships and the planting of olive trees.”
“When I presented the Reformation Challenge to both congregations, they said that they were interested in being involved, so that got me very excited. Looking back, it probably seemed like I was pushing the scholarship idea, but they ended up liking that idea anyways,” he reflected. “It also helped that I informed them that Bishop Younan [of the ELCJHL] spent time studying theology in Helsinki. I know that they would have given their money anyway, but they were definitely appreciative to know of the Finnish connection. Also, one of the speakers from the Reformation in the City Conference just so happens to be a Finnish scholar and is going to be giving a talk to them along with a concert in May.”
Not only does the Reformation Challenge hit home for the Finnish and Estonian congregations of St. Michael’s and St. John’s in Montreal, but fittingly, it also strikes a chord in Rev. Dr. Anderson’s heart as well.
“As I also teach Biblical studies at Concordia University, I was in the Holy Land in 2009 on a study tour,” he said. “After spending a week in the West Bank with that study tour, when I saw the Reformation Challenge came out with the option for scholarships for Palestinian students, I just immediately thought that it was a great idea and I wanted to support it. I think that the Reformation Challenge is a really positive way of commemorating the reformation. The way that it has been set up has allowed us to mark this event in a very positive way. It helps us look forward to the future, and not just back to the past, which I think is just a wonderful thing.”
Further information on the events in Montreal can be found here: http://montreal-lutheran.org/2017Luther500/index.html