Pastor tours sites from Luther’s life


John Wakeman, pastor of Greenfield Faith Church, stands near Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament books of the Bible from Latin into German. He was part of a recent tour in Germany that highlighted Luther’s influence. “It’s a trip I was dreaming about for quite a while,” Wakeman said.

Photo provided

He saw the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of when Germany was divided into two countries.

He gazed upon mountains like the ones Julie Andrews would have sung upon in the opening of “The Sound of Music.”

But even more interesting to local pastor John Wakeman was visiting sites that related to the life and ministry of Martin Luther.

Wakeman was part of an eight-day tour of Germany in May that highlighted the journey of the 1500s theologian credited with helping launch the Protestant Reformation. One piece of Luther’s writing, challenging some of the church practices of the time, came to be known as the 95 Theses.

“I’ve read a lot of books about him and learned quite a bit more on the trip,” said Wakeman, pastor of Greenfield Faith Church. “… He had a fascinating life.”

The group visited cathedrals, museums, some World War II landmarks and other sites, including Wartburg Castle, where Luther translated the New Testament from Latin into German.

There were 53 people in the group, Wakeman said, including four professors and about 10 pastors. The tour was led by Erwin Lutzer, pastor emeritus of The Moody Church in Chicago and speaker on the “Running to Win” radio program. Wakeman said he wanted to go on one of the tours before Lutzer stopped leading them.

Those who go on one of the trips, according to an online page that promoted this year’s tour, are “richly rewarded with a better understanding of our own Christian history, the struggles in our own cultural context, and of course, the joy of meeting new friends.”

Travelers each received two of Lutzer’s books, “Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation” and “Hitler’s Cross: How the Cross of Christ was Used to Advance the Nazi Agenda.”

Wakeman said a memorable moment of the trip was seeing All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, where Luther’s 95 Theses are engraved on the doors.

“That was the highlight probably — because that’s the start of it all,” Wakeman said.

Since he returned from the trip, a number of people have asked him about it. He plans to share about the trip, and lessons learned from it, in his sermon during the service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the church, 328 N. Swope St.