October 31, 1517 – the date Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany – is now widely held to be the beginning of the Reformation. As a living memorial to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has created a Luther Garden in Wittenberg. The LWF objective for the Luther Garden is to underscore the ecumenical significance of the Reformation anniversary and its importance for ecumenical relationships. Five hundred trees will be sponsored by churches of all denominations around the world, and sponsoring churches will plant a twin tree in the area of their home parish.
On November 16, 2014, St. Peter’s Reformation tree was planted in the Wittenberg Luther Garden, along with trees sponsored by churches in Denmark, Gambia, Myanmar and South Africa. On behalf of the Congregation and Pastor Beglo, St. Peter’s tree was planted by the Rev. Hans W Kasch (LWF Center Wittenberg) and the Rev. Neil Christian Thomson (Canadian Forces Reserve Chaplain), assisted by a child from the Protestant Primary School in Wittenberg.
St. Peter’s Reformation tree was commissioned with a reading of the powerful message to the world, recorded at the beginning of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word …” (John 1:1-5). One of the endearing Luther legends is his assertion that if he knew the world would end tomorrow, he would plant a tree. In keeping with the Gospel of John and the spirit of Luther, St. Peter’s Reformation Tree is a sign of hope. The marker is inscribed:
500 years Reformation – 500 trees in Wittenberg / A sign of a growing ecumenical community / 187 Mirabelle plum tree / St. Peter’s Lutheran Congregation in Ottawa, Canada / Rev. Dr. Barton Beglo, Pastor
In 2015, St. Peter’s twin tree was planted at Canada’s Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. The Farm was established by the federal government in 1886 and the city grew up around it. Today the Farm has a dual role as a National Historic Site and working research centre. St. Peter’s Ottawa tree is located in an area under development as a shelter belt on the western boundary of the Farm. A plaque on the donor wall at the site is inscribed:
For/Pour / The Reformation, 500 Years, 1517-2017 / Donated by/Offert par / St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Ottawa.