A lifetime of learning about Luther

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by Lu Ann and David Selmeyer

We are setting up our first display at church this weekend. We belong to Peace Lutheran Church in Antigo, Wis., but I play the organ down the road at the church in Birnamwood where my mother was raised. I also will share the display with them for their Reformation service at their usual Thursday evening service Oct. 30.

My husband and I are retired teachers, and my husband was the principal at Peace for 40 years. We started collecting Luther “stuff” for use in school classrooms and church displays in 1983 when we took an AAL-sponsored tour of Lutherland, most of which was behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany at the time.

We were so enthused when we returned that we planned a “Luther Fest” for Reformation in 1983 (the 500th anniversary of Luther’s birth) at the high school, and we involved all area Lutheran churches.

Many resources and ideas were provided in a great booklet from AAL. We had rooms where Luther movies were shown, displays covering the whole gym floor for adults and interactive activities for children, a play, seven choirs performing on the gym stage throughout the afternoon (it was a Sunday), plus lots more.

Some of the displays that were put together for that event migrated to our basement, to be brought out each year for display at church and school. The joke was that everyone knew my husband wanted to do the October hallway bulletin board at school because he had so many Luther items to display!

When retirement loomed, we wondered what to do with all our “stuff,” so we decided to take a bare conference room at church and transform it into the “Luther Conference Room.” We have been organizing our materials there as our legacy room.

Our daughter-in-law is an artist, and she did a wonderful painting on the wall of the first time Luther saw a Bible in the library in Erfurt and read about Hannah and Samuel. We have calligraphy on the walls in gold (“Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone,” as well as a quote from Ephesians). We put together a paper model of the Wartburg Castle (actually, this is the second one we made). And I could go on and on, but you get the idea — this is a topic we are excited about!

This Reformation, we decided to upgrade some of the materials we still had in storage in our basement from 1983, especially the posters with quotes from Luther. I also have a marvelous three-ring binder of materials from many publications about Luther. People have saved articles from The Lutheran Witness and other sources and given them to me for years. My binder is overflowing with interesting information on Luther. I love reading it, but some of it is not aging well and is starting to look like parchment paper! It is usually kept in the Luther Room at church, along with many books we have accumulated on Luther and the Reformation.

So, when I saw The Wittenberg Project information on the computer, we started following the developments and are excited about taking the Gospel back to the homeland! Plus, our son-in-law, a pastor in the Japan Lutheran Church, a sister church of the LCMS, will be at the dedication in May 2015. Our daughter is trying to figure out a way that she and her two kids can go also. My husband and I are even considering meeting them there! (My cousin traced our family history back to 1521 in the area of Germany near where Luther lived.)