President David Granger: Reverend Leroy Nicholson, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana; Justice Sandra Kurtzious, Vice President; Ms. Elocia Smith, Secretary; Deacon Shelda Emanuel; Pastor Shirley Jaundoo; Pastor Conrad Plummer and other pastors.
This morning I am honoured to be here among the Lutherans celebrating the start of one year commemoration of what I feel as a Christian was probably the most significant event in our church since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Protestant Reformation. I take it very seriously as you can hear.
The service here this morning launches a year of activities to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In fact the words are synonymous, because what took place four hundred and ninety-nine years ago or five hundred years ago, was a revolution. As you have been told already by Justice Kurtzious, Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517, nailed the document, which came to be known as The Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, and he nailed this document on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony in Germany. Martin Luther’s courageous act, seemingly simple at the first, engendered the most significant change in Christian doctrine, as I said, since the resurrection of Christ.
It triggered a religious upheaval, known as the Protestant Reformation, throughout all of Europe and eventually the rest of the world. The Protestant Reformation challenged Roman Catholic Orthodoxy. Branches of Christianity developed in the form of new churches, religious organisations and sects. The religious map of Europe was redrawn. Countries of the South, more or less, remained within the Roman Catholic community. Many of those in the North became part of the reformed community of churches. The Protestant Reformation is the mother of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Guyana. Your church, my brothers and sisters, is the oldest Church in Guyana. The Dutch Planter Class introduced the Church here in October 1743, two hundred and seventy-three years ago.
The Lutheran Church in Guyana, what was then the colony of Berbice, initially was a small, exclusive congregation which catered exclusively for the spiritual needs of the Dutch Planter Class. The 1763 Berbice Revolt of enslaved Africans led to the Church’s being relocated to New Amsterdam, which is where we are today, the home of Lutheranism in Guyana. Today I understand there are over 14 parishes and more than 50 congregations in Demerara and Berbice.
On behalf of the Government of Guyana, I wish to extend congratulations to the Evangelical Lutheran Church not only for its longevity, but also for the continuity of its work in our country including its work in educating our children over the years.
Again on behalf of the Government of Guyana I wish every success to the activities of the Lutheran Church at this, the launch of a year-long celebration. I wish that the events that commemorate this Protestant Revolution will resonate throughout our country. I encourage the Church to continue to be dedicated to its mission of promoting religious understanding during the coming year and beyond.
May God bless the Lutheran Church in Guyana.