The year of 2017 mobilized churches and ecumenical movements for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. World Day of Prayer in Croatia took time to look into the past and connect the history of women in the Reformation with today’s women in WDP. We created an ecumenical project called "From the Reformation to the Reformation of the Heart." The central event was a three-day conference held in a small picturesque village of Fužine, Croatia, on May 18-20, 2018.
Women from Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia had the opportunity to meet for this conference and reflect on the Reformation and WDP through lectures and workshops. We brought together 45 participants from 12 denominations, and from 12 other civil society organizations.
From the time of pen-writing to Twitter and Instagram what can we learn from the woman of the past? The Reformation reformulated the role of women in the family, church, and society. Women gradually became involved in social life and founded societies and movements. Education gained new meaning after the first girls' schools were opened. Women were able to study the Scriptures! They soon led prayer-meetings, taught children, and even preached. They were active in the community, they helped the poor and the marginalized, and they managed large households and cultivated organic agricultural products.
At the conference, we used theatre to portray two special characters, Katharina von Bora, Luther's wife, and Argul von Grumbach, the first woman writer at the time of the Reformation. Their committed and dedicated lives were a role model for women of that time, and still are a bright example to this day. By reading the Bible they were empowered by the Word of God and changed the image of women in a world dominated by men. They were not just wives and mothers. They have changed the world by changing themselves.
It took extraordinary courage to stand for something, stand against the current status to follow the ideals, which was often overwhelmed by persecution. But what women have achieved is to know that their opinions were valued, and that as human beings they were just as valuable as men.
Likewise, the history of the World Day of Prayer begins with Protestant women around 1887, who at one point felt this reformation in the heart and stepped forward with their idea of helping by leading prayers and learning about the situation of women around the world. As stated in the WDP motto - informed prayer, prayerful action. Today, the movement mobilizes millions of participants, but it started in one heart!
And here I see a parallel between women of the reformation and WDP women. Today's women are courageous, smart and beautiful, and are willing to step up and respond to the call to fight, to strive, and to live authentic Christianity in the 21st century.
Let your heart shine! Let it spark you to do whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4,8). Above all, love and live with God everyday regardless of the circumstances.
With such a reformation of the heart, we can do great things and contribute to the expansion of World Day of Prayer in the world!
– Senka Sestak Peterlin, WDPIC Reg Rep of Europe