2008 saw the inauguration of the Luther Decade in Germany - a program that stretches over ten years and culminates in the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the posting of Luther's thesis at the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. Parishes and associations, national Churches and all others that would like to, are invited to contribute to the program during these ten years. An extensive Internet portal offers suggestions and provides a platform for this: www.luther2017.de.
But before the Great Jubilee Year of 2017 the Jan Hus Memorial Year takes place in the Czech Republic. The 6th of July 2015 will be exactly 600 years since Jan Hus was burned at the stake at the Council of Constance. This is not a cause for celebration, but a good opportunity to commemorate this great Reformer of the First Reformation. Also his death sparked a whole movement, the Bohemian Reformation, a great reform movement in the heart of Europe, which of course had many opponents and, therefore, often left blood stains behind - on all sides. The Czech Churches, but not just the Churches, have begun to prepare for this anniversary with exhibitions, symposia, events of all kinds, pursuing the question of what that reform movement can tell us today. That is an interesting question, which we ask ourselves today, how the Church has to change in order to proclaim the Gospel in a credible way to the people of our time.
The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) has committed itself to join these main memorial years with other anniversaries. This results in a 6-year-long string of anniversaries from 2013 through to 2018.
2013 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of a six-volume Bible with many explanatory notes that was published for the first time in 1613 by the then Unity of Brethren. This Bible was printed in Kralice near Brno, therefore, it is known as the Kralice Bible. This Bible with its distinctive Kralice Czech has significantly influenced the development of the Czech language. But above all, it was an important aid for the laity in their Bible study, which played a central role in the then Unity of Brethren. As indeed the Bible, as the Word of God, is a very fundamental aspect of the Reformation for every Christian. Therefore, the anniversary of the Kralice Bible is the first highlight of the Reformation Anniversaries for the ECCB. In addition to events at the parish level, there will be a whole weekend, from 13th to 15th September 2013, in and around Kralice, in which the history and significance of the Kralice Bible will be illuminated from different sides. The program will contain elements for young and old, so that everyone will find something worthwhile in it.
Compared to the 400 years of the Kralice Bible, the 40 years of the Leuenberg Agreement looks very modest indeed. But, this anniversary is also important for the ECCB since this Agreement made it possible, for the first time since the Reformation, for the Reformed, Lutheran and United Churches to celebrate together the Lord's Supper and they could recognize each other's baptism and have pulpit fellowship, which makes it possible for preachers of the various Protestant traditions to mutually invite each other to preach in their respective Churches. This anniversary will be celebrated with a special worship service in the Red Church in Brno on 16th June 2013. The Secretary General of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Bishop Michael Bünker from Vienna, will give the sermon during this special service.
Although it is mainly celebrated by the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, the anniversary of the arrival of the Apostles to the Slavs, Saints Cyril and Methodius, in Great Moravia 1150 years ago, is also important for Protestants,. We want to celebrate this event together with the Protestants in Slovakia, 5th July 2013 at Branč Castle.
These anniversaries mark the start of the Reformation anniversary years. More anniversaries will follow: In 2014, 600 years ago, in our church St. Martin in the Wall the Lord's Supper was given to the people for the first time in both kinds. Therefore, our parish there is especially invited and encouraged to help shape the celebration of this event. After the Jan Hus Year of 2015 there will also be a commemoration, in 2016, of the Reformer Jerome of Prague, who was burned at the stake in Constance one year after Hus.
After the Luther Year 2017, follows the 100 year anniversary of the ECCB in 2018. All these anniversaries will have, from the beginning of 2013, their own internet portal: www.nase-reformace.cz. This portal is being set up at the moment of this writing and will be available from the beginning of February 2013. For the time being it is only in Czech, but who knows how things will develop.