Program: Mennonites and Lutherans in the 21st Century: A Journey in Reconciliation

In the 16th century, as the Reformation was taking hold in central Europe, there was great contention about the Church and church doctrine. The Lutheran reformers, even as they pushed back against the role and rule of the church in Rome, seeking freedom to explore and express their understanding of the Gospel, attacked the emerging Anabaptist movement. This led to severe persecution, deaths and martyrdom.

After “living with” the schism and differences and tragic history for centuries, circumstances brought Lutherans and Mennonites together in the late 20th century to talk about this troubling history. In the 21st century, great steps toward reconciliation and understanding have taken place–culminated by a public apology made by the Lutheran World Federation to the Mennonite World Conference at Stuttgart, Germany in 2010. Lutheran Pastor Stephen Godsall-Myers will explore the exciting reconciliation moments that have emerged, particularly in the years since Stuttgart, touching on the relationship that developed between Salford Mennonite and Advent Lutheran in Harleysville.

Open to the public. Admission by donation.

Stephen Godsall-Myers was ordained in 1983. Prior to attending Seminary (in Philadelphia), he was a lawyer in the law firm of Dechert Price & Rhoads. He served as the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia for 4 years before being called as Associate Pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester, PA. When his colleague, the Reverend Roy Almquist, was elected Bishop in 1994, Stephen was called to be the senior pastor at Calvary. He served Calvary until June 2006, when he left to join his wife, Jean, to serve as Co-Directors of the ELCA Wittenberg Center. At the Center, Jean and Stephen worked with congregations, colleges and seminaries to design learning experiences that connected them with Lutheran and Reformation history, with church partners in Wittenberg and Germany, and with the contemporary religious culture. During their 3 ½ years in Lutherstadt Wittnberg, the Godsall-Myers developed many cherished relationships inside and outside the Church. Jean and Stephen returned to the United States in January 2010 and Stephen was called to Advent Lutheran Church in Harleysville. During his tenure at Advent, a wonderful relationship developed between Advent Lutheran and Salford Mennonite. He retired from this call in June 2016. He and Jean returned to Lutherstadt Wittenberg to serve as volunteers during the Reformation observances during the 500th Anniversary of the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses. They spent almost 7 months serving in the Castle Church helping to welcome the 800 or so daily visitors to this important historical church in Wittenberg. Stephen is currently living in Harleysville engaging in church and community work as a volunteer. His retirement has given him and Jean more time for travel and visiting grandchildren.