The year 2017 has had profound significance for the Lutheran community, and in fact for all Protestant Christian denominations. This year marks 500 years since Martin Luther presented his Ninety-five Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz and—according to legend—attached copies to the door of All Saints’ Church and other churches throughout the area of Wittenberg, Germany. This list of propositions sparked the dawn of the Protestant Reformation and would forever change the face of Christianity throughout the world.
To honor the 500-year historical milestone, Lutheran churches and congregations throughout the Greater Minneapolis area gathered at Mighty Force International Church to celebrate with music, ministry, and fellowship. Numerous area pastors spoke at the event, sharing their personal testimonies and even divulging some of the history and inspiration behind the church’s most beloved hymns. Even the name of the church, “Mighty Fortress,” was inspired by Martin Luther’s beloved hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The event was a major success, and its October date is especially significant.
Every year, Protestants recognize October 31st as Reformation Day, the day when Martin Luther stood up to the Roman Catholic establishment and proposed a strict “back to the basics” approach to Christianity. Luther was disenchanted with what he perceived as heretical and hypocritical actions within the Catholic church, particularly as they pertained to the selling of indulgences.
During this time in the 16th century, the faithful could purchase certificates from the church that would absolve themselves from certain sins. They could even purchase these indulgences on behalf of loved ones in purgatory. As Luther understood the scriptures, salvation couldn’t be purchased; it could only be received through genuine repentance. His Ninety-five Theses laid out his specific grievances with his church at the time, but even he could hardly have anticipated the lasting impact his protest would have.
Though the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, its influence continues to impact our world today. According to the most recent census estimates, there are currently more than 900 million Protestants worldwide, and their numbers continue to grow. The movement is certainly alive and well in the Minneapolis area, as October’s event has proven.
Revival in Minneapolis
One of the biggest highlights of the October celebration in Minneapolis was the presentation of the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” This classic hymn was masterfully performed by a mass choir consisting of talented singers from Lutheran churches all across Minnesota. The event attracted thousands of attendees as well as remote participants who were able to watch the presentation from home via the church’s live stream.
Though the event honored an important moment in the history of the church, it wasn’t so much a recognition of Martin Luther as it was a celebration of Martin Luther’s core teaching and the foundation of the Protestant movement: the gift of salvation. Specifically, it’s the freedom of knowing that salvation can’t be earned or bought; it’s a gift made available due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Mighty Fortress International Church
Mighty Fortress is one of the fastest-growing church congregations in the Minneapolis area. This Lutheran church is rooted in the tenets of scripture, acknowledging that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. As noted in the church’s official Belief Statement, God is recognized in the form of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was sent to Earth to die for the sins of mankind, and it’s only through accepting that sacrifice that human beings can be redeemed and made right with God.
The church has traditional Sunday services as well as other services and Bible studies throughout the week. There are even special Bible studies for kids, teens, singles, and other groups. The church’s overseer is Bishop Thomas Williams, a highly respected teacher who has served in the ministry in various capacities for more than three decades. Thomas is the founder of the church and also serves as its president and senior pastor. Williams’ wife, Lady Sabrina R. Williams, also serves in church leadership and oversees many of the church’s day-to-day operations. She has been in ministry for more than 40 years and is passionate about serving Christ through Mighty Fortress.
Together, Thomas and Sabrina Williams have helped the church to grow from a small, humble congregation to a large and influential pillar of the community. The success of the Reformation Day event is a further testament to the influence of Mighty Fortress, as the event brought together a diverse group of Lutheran and Lutheran-affiliated denominations from throughout the state. Believers from all walks of life came together at Mighty Fortress so sing, pray, reflect, and celebrate the Good News, all united by a common love for Jesus and passion for fellowship.
Mighty Fortress Continues to Grow
Due to Bishop Williams’ passionate and informed teachings combined with the loving and welcoming atmosphere for which the church is known, Mighty Fortress continues to attract new congregants every day. All services are held at Excell Academy For Higher Learning in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and all people are welcome to join the congregation for upcoming services. Those who would like to learn more before attending can stream the church’s services live on the internet. Services can be viewed at the church’s website, mightyfortress.net. The church believes in the Biblical teaching of “Come as you are,” and the leaders believe that nobody is too sinful to receive God’s grace.