We are Lutherans

Following Martin Luther in and around Seyda, Germany for 500 years.


Thank you to Mrs. Katharina Körting, the coordinator for the 500th reformation jubilee in the church circle Wittenberg, for the idea to write this booklet. And a special thank you to Carla and Lawrence Melocik for help with the translation to English.


Before writing the thesis that resulted in the Reformation, Martin Luther’s name was Martin Luder.  Following the widespread tradition of that time where authors would adopt a Greek name to be used in relation to the book, he adopted as the author the Greek word - “Luther” for his name.  Luther means “freedom”. He adopted the Greek for “freedom” to demonstrate his belief that with Grace he was free; free to live in God’s love enabling him to follow his conscience in the face of all opposition and free from the fear of purgatory.  


Ever since, we have known the man as Martin Luther.


The start of the Reformation took place near Seyda, which is situated between Jueterbog, where Tetzel was taking money for the indulgencies, and Wittenberg, where Luther posted his thesis against the sale of indulgencies.  Both cities are 15 miles away from Seyda.


Martin Luther knew Seyda. In one of his sermons he said: “Dear congregation, Moses went into the desert a distance like from Wittenberg to Seyda.” (See Luthers Works: Weimaraner Ausgabe 25, 473, 15). He also appointed a Pastor for Seyda. His friend Bartholomaeus Rieseberg was one of the first Lutheran Pastors in Seyda, from 1527 to 1540. He came here after he escaped from death by fire in Hessia for being a Lutheran Pastor.


On November 13th, 1528, “Friday after Martinsday”, Martin Luther was personally in Seyda. (Martinsday is November 11th, the day of St. Martin of Tours, who cut his coat in half to share with a poor man) for one of his first church-visitations. Ten years after the reformation Martin Luther and his friends were looking to the congregations around Wittenberg to understand how the Lutheran Message came to life there.


They had some very bad experiences- not in Seyda, because there was Rieseberg, but in other villages they visited. For instance sometimes the Pastor could not recited the Lord’s Prayer without reading it, as up until this time it was enough for a Pastor to be able to “read the Mass” (the service was still called the Mass).


The visitors were like inspectors, examining the conditions in Seyda so that they could make recommendations to bring about Luther’s vision.  Seyda did not have a school or a hospital so they ordered a school and hospital be built. Also, they required that a “common box” be established that would be spent to help the poor.


At that time smaller villages were aligned with larger villages for both civil and religious administration.  Labetz, a small village near Wittenberg, was under the religious administration of Seyda, but it was by far much closer to Wittenberg.  Another small village, Schadewalde, was administered by Wittenberg but it was only 1 mile from Seyda. Luther and his team recommended that Schadewalde belong for church purposes to Seyda and Labetz to Wittenberg.


The Pastor of Mellnitz, another village 2 miles from Seyda, had its own Pastor. But it was a very small village with not enough income to support him.  The Pastor could “not live and not die” in such a village.  So the Visitors said Mellnitz now belongs to Seyda and transferred the Pastor to Seyda.  Seyda from this time had two Pastors; one of them was a Senior Pastor (called a Superintendent). In Mellnitz today, you can see the 850 year old church and its two original doors.  An unusual aspect of the church is that it had a door for the congregation, and a separate one for the priest.  The priest’s door is very small. 


In Seyda, the visitors installed a new office: A “Superintendent” Pastor would now be responsible for the education and working of ten Pastors in Seyda and the region around. This Superintendent-office existed in Seyda until 1877 and until 1919 Seyda had two Pastors: One “Oberpfarrer” (like a senior Pastor), and a “deacon” (like associate Pastor). They lived in the two houses adjacent to the church. The present Pastor’s house was built in 1846 and the other was built in 1744 and both are still used today by the parish.


After Luther’s visit to Seyda, he wrote the Big and the Small Catechisms to help educate both the Pastors and congregations. Short and precise, he addressed the main beliefs of the Christian faith.  The Small Catechism was to be used in “house, school and church”.  The Big Catechism was for instruction of the Pastors.  Today the Small Catechism is in the German Lutheran Song Book, in dialogical form: Question and answer.  It is broken down into five parts: Commandments, Faith, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, and Communion.  For hundreds of years, even to this day, the Catechism has been taught.

For a long time on Sunday in Seyda, there was both a main service in the morning and in the afternoon a catechism service.  From the Small Catechism and instruction from the “house, school and church” it was normal, that – like Luther wrote – “a child of seven years knew what the church is”.


In the Big Catechism Luther gave background knowledge for Pastors, e.g. “What is God?” “God is where your heart depends.”


This visit was not the last one. They came back to see how the recommendations were implemented. In Seyda they found the new school, but not a hospital. The Seydians apologized: They had given money for the hospital in the neighbour-town of Zahna!


So we can see here how the reformation worked in Seyda with visits and recommendations with a follow up visit to see if they are implemented.  Otherwise, it shows how careful they were with pre-existing religious traditions when they did not contradict the Bible.  You can see today in the churches in Arnsdorf and Ruhlsdorf old carvings.  In Ruhlsdorf there is a carving of the “holy family”: Mary and Joseph and Anna the grandmother of Jesus and mother of Mary. Anna has the baby Jesus on her lap, she has a cloth around her head as a married wife, and in the background her three husbands (a medieval legend held they died consecutively). The medieval legend is a correspondence to the visit of the Lord by Abraham.  The people at that time looked for such similarities between the Old and the New Testament. This holy carving had no more importance then they had before the reformation - to be an intercessor of healing (Luther as a young man cried: “Holy St. Anna, I would like to be a monk, if I survive this storm”). The visitors didn´t take away the carvings from the church. They moved them from the centre: where now there is Jesus and the cross. But beside this we can see also today Anne and some other holy art. In Arnsdorf, the holy Sebastian was taken away from the middle of the Altar to the sidewall.  Replacing it in the middle is now the pulpit.


Long is the line of Lutheran Pastors who have served in Seyda. They were often well educated with good relationships to the University in Wittenberg. We can see this we look at when the big oil picture in Seyda Johannes Zacharias Hilliger.  For 45 years he was in charge in Seyda (from 1725 to 1770). In the background he has a lot of books. In his hand he has an open book with a sentence in three languages: Greek, Latin and Hebrew: “Trust your way to the hand of the Lord, when you have trouble: The Lord is watching over you.” (see Ps 37,5 and Genesis 22,14)


The congregation in Elster, another small village near Seyda, was assigned a Pastor with the help of Luther.  (Elster’s name is derived from the “Elstertor”, the gate of Wittenberg to Elster, where Martin Luther burned the bull of the Pope on December 10th, 1520.)  The pastor’s name was Valentin Schwan. Here it happened, which some feared, that a Pastor’s son would follow him, like an inheritance.  Here it was not only the son but also the grandson.  To protect against this situation the requirement of celibacy was founded by the Roman Catholic Church.


In 1521 Luther stood in front of the “Caesar”, the Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation, Emperor Karl V. of the “Holy Roman Reich of German Nation”. He was all powerful in Germany.  He supported Luther and the supremacy of Holy Scripture and conscience.  A Danish Prince who later became the King of Denmark was there.  At the time he was Catholic. He was so excited, that he became a Lutheran. He came to Wittenberg to be a church volunteer.  Then, as a king in Denmark, he invited Bugenhagen (first Pastor in Wittenberg, who was elected by the congregation in 1523), a friend of Luther, to come to Denmark to write and install church orders for his kingdom. “Gods word and what Luther says - will never, ever go away”- so Danish Pastors recite this also today before the sermon.


The Lutheran kings of Saxonia, Hessia and Denmark were related to each other, because of the need for wives or husbands in the same religion.  So a Danish princess, Hedwig, came here to Saxonia:  She was a grandchild from the Danish Price who was in Wittenberg after 1521. Her husband was Kurfuerst.  He was like a King (“Kur” means “elect”), being one the seven Electors of Germany who elected the Caesar, the emperor of the H.R.R.G.N.).  Kurfuerst, died early, and so Hedwig as his widow inherited a small kingdom in the Seyda region. She lived in the castle “Lichtenburg” near Prettin, 25 miles away from Seyda, and had ruled over all our villages and towns.  She contributed as a gift the little church in Gentha, in 1624. Gentha is a small village 3 miles south of Seyda. After a battle in Gentha during the 30 Years War only two widows and two widowers survived. Hedwig gave them farm tools and animals – and built this church for their hope and consolation. “Was it worth it to do this for such a small number of people?” we ask today.


Hedwig’s gift is an expression of Lutheran faith. Recently, in 2013, we discovered another expression. In the Gentha church there is picture of the Last Supper on the front of the altar Hedwig.  One apostle is absent, and Hedwig is sitting in place of him there. A woman pictured sitting at the table of the Lord!  No one in recent history realized this. This is typical Lutheran thinking: All of us have a place there, by Jesus.


In the Town Church in Wittenberg the painter Cranach did the same with a picture of the Last Supper.  At the table, the people of the congregation in Wittenberg are sitting. But only men!  In Gentha there is a woman sitting at the table – the first time this is known in such picture. Perhaps the picture in Gentha pictures apostles which have faces of people from Gentha from this time.  Unfortunately, we do not have pictures of them to compare.


Faith is confirmed in action.  This was shown at the beginning of the reformation (e.g. when Luther and his friends visited Seyda with the call for education to all and for the care of the weak, poor and sick).  Another example of this occurred in 1708 when a fire destroyed most of the houses in Seyda, including the church. Then the Saxonian Christian community joined together to help Seyda.  A “Love Tax” and a “Voluntary Love Gift” from Saxonian towns helped to rebuild the town and the church. This is the reason that Seyda is still exists; the Christian “love for the neighbour”. In 1711 the new church was ready. By 1717 the congregation had collected enough money to buy one bell for the steeple (before 1708 there were 5 bells). The bell from 1717 (the 300 year anniversary of the Reformation!) is ringing still today. On the bell is written: “Bringing the voice of joy of Lutheran Christianity to the future”.


Other bells were added but the old bell from 1717 was the only one that survived WW II when all other bells were taken to make war material. Currently the congregation is collecting money to bring a second bell to the steeple in 2017.


In the 18th century the typical Lutheran “Pulpit-Altar” came into the church. It shows the “Lutheran program”: In the center of the altar are the Word and Sacrament demonstrated by building as part of the altar, the altar pulpit and baptismal font.  The pulpit is above the altar and is reached by stairs in the back and comes to a small window from where the Word is read and explained from above.  On either side of where the small window there is an open red curtain painted on the wood just like shown in the picture of the Last Supper painted on the altar.  In this picture, the Lord is sitting with his disciples at the table offering the Holy Communion; a similar open curtain surrounds the preacher in the pulpit. The open curtain means that the Way is revealed by the Lord through the Word and Sacraments. Remember also the curtain in the temple which was torn when Christ died on the cross.

He is present here and today at this table and in his Word.


The carved picture of the Last Supper in the altar is an invitation.  It looks like we – coming to the sacrament – are all in one circle together with Jesus and the disciples. The bread is on the table - for us.   In the Common Lutheran Song Book for Germans is a song by Martin Jentzsch, who was born in Seyda. The song (Nr. 418) talks about this picture, we will hear later about this.


Another basic of Lutheran theology is to make a difference between “Law” and “Gospel” in the word of God. This is to seen on the altar too. Surrounding the cross on the very top of the altar is on the left side is Moses with the ten commandments meaning it’s the “Law”; and to the right side John, who wrote: “God is love”, the Gospel. Both are pointing to Christ on the cross. The big figures right and left of the pulpit are Peter and Paul, the patrons of this church since 1711. They changed places 100 years ago, but in 2016 they came back to their right places. This is also a message of the reformation: To change when you discover when something is wrong. Paul is now pointing with his finger not to the blue sky, but to the cross of Christ; and Peter is not telling us to go away from the altar but to come to the table of the Lord.


Another basic of the Lutheran church is the cooperation between state, the civil authorities and the church. Until 1918, the King of Germany was the first bishop in the Lutheran church at which time he was required to abdicate and the practice ended. Our church reminds us of this with placement of the seats for the government officers in the balcony left of the altar.  The balcony is marked with the Saxonian-Polish Crest and on the right balcony is the grave-stone of an officer of the government who lived and was in charge of the Seyda region for 50 years. On it in Latin is written: “Serve like I did, then we can speak about it!” Also on the old bell from 1717, are the names of state officials and church men. The old school near the church was built 1881, 33% of the money was given by the church congregation, and until 1918 the Superintendent was the Supervisor for the school. Education was an important thing for the Lutheran congregation at all times, following the example of Luther.


On an oil picture of the superintendent on the balcony you can see also the “Luther Rock”, the robe which Martin Luther wore as a professor in Wittenberg. This style of robe is still worn by the Lutheran Pastors in Germany until today. But the style of robe is not the principal thing; it belongs to the “adiaphora”, the secondary things. An example of this is found in a letter Luther received from a Pastor who felt himself in emergency: his king permitted him to preach in the Lutheran way, but he forced him to wear the vestments worn by Catholic priests. “Can I do this?” he asked Luther. Luther answered: What is important is the Word, what is worn doesn’t matter, he can even wear underclothes!


For many centuries Lutheran Pastors wore the vestments that Catholic priests used for Mass.  For instance in Gadegast, 1 mile away from Seyda, we have some old bills: 100 years ago they bought new Mass vestments. In 1817 the Prussian king ordered all Pastors in his land to wear the black robe in the service.


After the war from 1812 to 1815 against Napoleon, life changed a lot in Seyda.  Saxonia fought with France against Prussia and Russia and lost the war. Our region became part of Prussia and the Prussian “Province Saxonia” was founded. This was the name of our church region until 2009 when it was merged with Thuringia to form the “Evangelical Church in Middle Germany” (which contains all the Luther Rock main Luther sights). The Prussian King took over the power in 1815. His family roots were in South Germany, so he was reformed, influenced by the reformation in Switzerland of Zwingli and Calvin. His forefathers attempted to bring together the majority Lutheran people and the minority Calvinists into one united church, but failed. The king in 1817 was smarter: He said: We will make a union between Lutheran and Calvinists, but only like being under the same roof. Every congregation could be in their own Confession, which meant that for the most part they learned the Lutheran Catechism and to have the Lutheran liturgy. The king, Friedrich Wilhelm III, had a hobby of writing religious songs and liturgy for services.  Through his friend, Czar Alexander of Russia, he met a Russian music composer, Karl Heinrich von Bogatzky. With Bogatzky’s melodies, the king made a new song book for the services in his kingdom. Every congregation, who accepted this song book, got a special song book inscribed with gold letters - “For the congregation in … from King Friedrich Wilhelm III.” I found such a book under a church bench in Morxdorf, a small village 3 miles away from Seyda. But in another village nearby, Seehausen, the farmers went in front of the Pastor house, held their Lutheran song books up and cry: “We are Lutherans!”


In the church plaza in front of our church in Seyda we find a “Freedom Tree”, a White Linden Oak, remembering the coalition between Russian and Prussian troops in 1813 that defeated Napoleon. The tree is over 200 years old now. Another tree we call the “Luther Oak” was planted in 1883 on the 400th birthday of Martin Luther.


In 1883, a new Christian charity was established in Seyda. The idea originated with the important Lutheran theologian Friedrich von Bodelschwingh. In Lutheran tradition, he started a good charity in Bethel in western Germany, building houses on a farm for the poor, homeless and unemployed and provided work in the fields near the houses. His relative, Gustav von Diest, did the same in Seyda in 1883. At that time there was a serious economical crises taking place in Germany and many were homeless and without work, on the streets throughout Germany and also in Seyda. He discovered in them the “brothers of the street” and said: “Give them work instead of benefits!” Through his plans, they drained the wet fields dry by digging channels. The new fields – good for agriculture, were sold to the farmers. So they had money to host and to feed the former homeless people. After a year they got some money to help them start to build a new life. To see the individuality and worth of men is a typical Lutheran view.


“Break with the hungry your bread who are walking in darkness. Invite them into your house; take the burdens of the others unto yourself!” So in memorizing the verses from Joshua, the prophet, Martin Jentzsch wrote verses for a song. This song can still be found in the present Song Book for Lutherans in Germany, song Nr. 418. He was born in Seyda, and his father was the Pastor there during the days of the “working colony”.  As the Pastor’s son, he was sitting in front of our altar, watching every Sunday the picture of the last supper we’ve heard about. He wrote: “Break us your bread, Lord, sinners and good men, and help that we all come to your table!”


Lutherans did also missionary work in Africa, in Tanzania, the former “German East Africa”. In the church in Gadegast, one mile from Seyda, an old mission flag on the balcony remembers this time.   140 years ago the first black man came to Gadegast and told about the mission stations in Africa which consisted of a school, hospital and church. In Gadegast and also in the other villages the congregations contributed money for such missionary work.  We still have visits from such one station that they supported from Lugala hospital in Tanzania. A piece of the Lutheran World Church: Our congregation had also built this.


The Luther Church in a town in Thuringia was financed by the congregation of Gadegast in 1886 also.  This was a region of Germany which was predominantly Catholic.  We can read today how many families were helped. The Gustav Adolf Association helped then and still helps Lutherans in the “diaspora”, living in the minority worldwide.


In 1886 the church in Ruhlsdorf was built. The patron was like a little king in the village, who was also responsible for the church – gave the money for the new building.  By his life he was an example of the Lutheran faith. Not only did he give money but also his time by visiting his poorest farmers, when they were sick, to pray and to sing with them. The Pastor said at his funeral: “No door was too small for him.” He also founded a mutual fire-insurance company for the farmers in the province of Saxonia and later for whole Germany. By this he protected a lot of people in dealing with big emergencies.  He was also a member of the parliament, the “Reichstag”. He spoke against Chancellor Bismarck and his Culture fight (Kulturkampf) against Catholics. The “little king” of Ruhlsdorf was the one, who had the courage to speak against Bismarck: “I’m a Lutheran. But what you do is not the Christian way and not smart.” So Bismarck at last had to change his plans.


At the Ruhlsdorf church is the grave marker of this man whose name is Carl Traugott (Trust God) von Hülsen, with the verse from the bible: “Jesus Christ speaks: I live, and you should also live!” With building the church he also donated the Cup and the Plate for Holy Communion. His great grandchildren in 2015 helped us by giving a large donation to redo the roof of the church, in the good Lutheran tradition of their ancestor.


In our churches in and around Seyda you can see what was important to the congregation. In Naundorf, 4 miles away from Seyda you can see a “pulpit-altar” like in Seyda.  Also Gentha (3 miles away) had one, as shown in an old photo. In Gadegast in the middle of the altar we see a picture of Christ, who comes with wide spread arms to us. In Zemnick in a window behind the altar, the Easter story with Maria Magdalena at the empty grave and the Lord coming to her.  You can feel the contrast to “reformed” churches when you go in other regions of Germany, For instance in the reformed churches in northwest Germany there are no pictures, no altar, no candles - only a pulpit in the middle, and a table in a corner with moving legs, used only for Communion.


A small paper with “Information for the Congregation” printed in 1928 was found in Gadegast under a bench while cleaning the church. In it you can read from the “confession for the youth”. In Gadegast behind the altar is a Confessional seat. Luther did not break the tradition of confession. In 1817 during the renovation of the Castle Church in Wittenberg the confessional seats were rebuilt. Luther only criticised forcing someone to go to confession. He said no one can confess all his sins, but he also said, that confession is healing.


The congregation is constituted by Word and Sacrament. This is written in the “Confessio Augustana” written in 1530, the Lutheran “Credo” (CA VII). This is visible for instance in the building of the church in Meltendorf, 3 miles from Seyda. This small village had no church. The richest farmer, Broese, built a new farmer’s house in the middle of the 19th century.  In the centre of his house he built a church room. Later, in 1896, the farmers of the village worked together to build a small church for their village. Because the village built it, the building has never been the church’s property but it is the state’s property. The assigned Pastor did not come often, that’s why the farmers invited Pastors sometimes from far away to preach in their church: To hear the word of God.  In this small village they didn’t have a church choir. The choir for about 30 years Sunday to Sunday also did his work by song.


The anniversary of the reformation in 1917 was during the time of WW I. In the Gadegast church we have from 1915 a “Nail-Cross”. For every nail a donation was given for the soldiers fighting in the war. Luther as a server of nationalism would have supported that.


The paintings in the church in Seyda in 1935 showed the signs of Luther and Melanchthon, and the Song “A Mighty Fortress” and some verses of the bible. There are similar paintings in Ruhlsdorf. Recently, the congregation by itself repainted the church. We had permission to do this in spite of the requirement for historical accuracy because we had a professional restorator mix the colors for us to match exactly what had been used previously. But for the sentences and signs of Luther and Melanchthon beside the altar we did not get permission for a non-professional work and it was left as it was. As a tribute to 2017 we would like to fix these pictures and are collecting money for this. There is written under the Luther Rose: “The Christian heart is going on roses, when it is behind the cross.” And on the other side by the sign of Melanchthon: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, so you are saved.”

Pictures painted around 1900 of Luther are to be found in Gadegast, Elster and Ruhlsdorf (and also of his friend, Melanchthon), and from the 18th century an oil picture of both by the famous painter Siebenhaar.


The example of “courage” of Lutheran faith can be found also in the life and the work of Pastor Hagendorf, in Seyda from 1938 to 1954. He first came under the observation of the Nazi Secret Service, the Gestapo, because he made requests for donations for Jewish Christians in letters he wrote. He was questioned, why he was soliciting donations for someone who had Jewish grandparents (the source of such information was the Baptismal records of the church), and he answered that he never wrote, that he found something and passed it on. Later he was sent to a concentration camp after he publically criticized Hitler. He survived and came back to serve in Seyda.


In June 1953 a revolt against the communist power took place in East Germany. It was crushed by Russian tanks. Two leaders of the revolt knocked on the door at the Pastor house in Seyda and asked for help. They said to each other: “One has to open up the door! So Jesus said!” (Mt 25). The Pastor did, and helped to smuggle them to the American Sector of Berlin – but he was caught and sent to prison by the communists.


In 2003 something unusual happened that provided evidence that we belonged to the Lutheran World Family.  At that time a pastor exchange program took place. Pastor Keith Hardy from Baltimore, Maryland and I twice visited each other for a month. Pastor Hardy was surprised: “Every village has a big church in the centre, and the church is Lutheran!” After his visit also some members of the congregation came to Seyda, and now they help to translate this booklet. Because our churches are old they are not usually heated we use only a small area of the church that is enclosed for services. In the winter church in Naundorf (4 miles away) we have a red glass cross made by Kermit Sanders from Epiphany Lutheran Church in Baltimore.


A congregation group from Seattle helped in 2005 to renovate the church of Mellnitz (2 miles from Seyda) and the youth house of the church in Seyda. They belonged to the “West Side Presbyterian Church”, from the reformed tradition. But together we followed the steps of Martin Luther here. The beginning was September 11th (9/11), 2001! Impressed by the terror of this day we prayed together in the church.


We have some contacts in relating to the 500th anniversary of the reformation. Year after year a choir from the biggest Lutheran university in the U.S., the Valparaiso University Choir (near Chicago), came here, 50 students. They were here for the confirmations in Seyda and in Gentha and for the new chapel in Mark Zwuschen. This choir now has now a partnership with the Thomaner Choir in Leipzig (Bach Choir), and has been selected to be the choir by the state for the reformation jubilee celebrating the October 31, 1517 posting of the 95 theses, in the castle church; but before their performance they will visit our small villages and congregations.


Other friendly visitors are from Denmark (Bishop Marianne Christiansen visited Gentha in 2015 and 2016), from the Czech Republic (Bohemian Brothers) and from Poland (Masuria).


At a village anniversary, in Naundorf near Seyda, the church’s congregation made a play about the history of the village and in one of them was “Luther”.  Bernhard Naumann from Wittenberg who works at Town Church there and often plays the part of “Luther” in festivals there.


Special meetings are held at the Lutheran World Foundation in Wittenberg.  One time a group of 16 visitors at the Foundation spent an afternoon and night with us.  It was like the Olympics as they came from across the world.  Lutherans from Zimbabwe, Latvia, Hong Kong, El Salvador, Canada, U.S.A., Ghana, Zambia, India, Columbia, Sweden, and Denmark.  A huge experience for both them and us!


Finally, the arrival of the refugees from Syria brought in the last months gave us the opportunity to describe our faith and the Reformation for people from another culture background: that you cannot buy “tickets” for “paradise”, but it is a present from Jesus, that what you do is the main thing, but loving everybody as Jesus loved us. This is a contrast to their thinking - that works are bringing the decision for heaven or hell – in the Islam and in our modern western society.


Luther’s spirit is alive in our congregations.  An example is the new chapel in Mark Zwuschen, built between 2009 and 2012. On top is written “Vivit”, Latin for “He is alive!”.  This reminds us of the famous painting by Cranach the Elder ”Christ on the Cross” with Jesus’ grave cloth flying as a sign that he has conquered the grave.  “Vivit”, “He is alive” is written also on the Luther Rose, the sign of Martin Luther.  The message “He is alive” is going through the times and makes happy and free.


The idea for this booklet came through the visit of Mrs. Katharina Körting, coordinator for the 500th anniversary in the Wittenberg church region. We met, because other restaurants were closed, first in the village of Listerfehrda.  Because we met there I told her a story of about the village. Listerfehrda had no church, but after WW II a Communist Major had planes to built one. The location was fixed. But over night he took to flight to West Berlin.  A Communist fleeing to his freedom in the 50ies! So it didn´t come to a church in Listerfehrda. But the dream was there until today. In telling the story I thought: “Lets try it once more!” and now, in October 2016, we have a small wooden structure which we are making into a chapel. On the altar is painted both the Cross and the Luther Rose. It’s a chapel for the village, and being on the bike path from Berlin to Wittenberg (7 miles away) and on to Dresden, it is where a lot of bicyclists and hikers pass by.


A lot that is “Lutheran”, we don’t recognize, like a fish, who is swimming in the water doesn’t know he is in the water until he is out of it.  An example of this is that we get presents on Christmas Day – and not, like earlier, on the feast day of St. Nikolas (December 6th). Martin Luther did that because he said: Christ’s birth is more important.  Also celibacy was not required and Lutheran pastors could marry.  All these make the Martin Luther we know today.


The memories of Luther are alive in Seyda: that eternal life is from God’s mercy; freedom from other teachings of salvation (like salvation through money like Tetzel did); that the Bible is available for everybody to read himself; to provide help if our neighbour needs practical help; that we can have joy by the good gifts of God – and, especially in our days, that we have hope such as when we believe that tomorrow the world is going away and we plant a apple tree today.


God give us all

your mercy´s blessing!

That we follow your ways

in true love

and brotherly trust that

we think the best of each other.

Kyrie Elision!


Lord, your Holy Spirit

Do not take away!

Holy Spirit give us the right portion,

Of your love that we may

live in peace and unity.

Kyrie Elision!


Song for Holy Communion,

Sung in Seyda for 500 years; German Lutheran Song Book Nr. 214,3.