Liberating Grace Conference

Liberating Grace: The Power of the Reformation in the World Today
March 31–April 1, 2017
Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that one would stake one's life on it a thousand times." – Martin Luther

How does the Reformation continue to inform the Lutheran Church’s interactions with other denominations and faiths, with the poor and underprivileged, with the social issues of our time? What directions might our Reformation heritage lead the church in the future? This two-day conference addresses the Reformation’s continuing impact on the church as it interacts with the wider world.  

We have divided the weekend’s events into four parts. You are welcome to attend all four or mix and match according to your interests.

Part 1:  The conference will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, with the popular and thought-provoking Nadia Bolz-Weber. Bolz-Weber, a best-selling author and pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, will present the 2017 Farwell Distinguished Lecture, unpacking her vision of the role of the church in broader society as that vision connects to its Reformation roots. 

Part 2:  At 8:45 a.m. Saturday, April 1, Ralston Deffenbaugh will deliver the conference’s plenary address, Welcoming the Stranger: Refugees at the Core of the Lutheran World Federation.  A human rights lawyer, Deffenbaugh coordinates the Lutheran World Federation’s international affairs and human rights advocacy and policy development, advises the General Secretary, and serves as the LWF’s main representative to the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland.    

At 10:30 a.m., attend one of three seminars:

  • Nadia Bolz-Weber: A Week in the Life of a Preacher
  • Ralston Deffenbaugh: The Global Challenge of Refugee Protection in an Age of Fear
  • A Conversation with Lutheran Leaders, featuring Carol Birkland '67, April Ulring Larson '72, Sue Rothmeyer '81, and Heidi Torgerson-Martinez '00, moderated by Luther president Paula Carlson.

At 1:30 and 3 p.m., Luther College faculty and alumni will lead breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics related to the Reformation and the life of the church today.

Part 3:  Saturday evening, join us for a special pre-concert dinner in Peace Dining Room. The exceptional menu includes: baked apple and baby kale salad, rye bread and brötchen rolls, roasted thyme-scented chicken breast over honey braised root vegetables or roasted vegetable stuffed charred red bell pepper, and caramel almond cake with red wine poached pear and thyme-infused whipped cream. Wine and beer will be available for purchase beginning at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 6 p.m.

Part 4:  At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Luther College Nordic Choir and Symphony Orchestra will perform J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall. Bach's monumental work, a prominent example of the Lutheran musical tradition, serves as a reminder of the cultural impact of the Reformation.  

The weekend will conclude with a festival worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 2, in the Center for Faith and Life.

Luther College celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 with a year full of events on campus.