Reformation Day Celebration Service
When: 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Sunday
Where: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 600 South Enota Drive, Gainesville
How much: Free
Many religious leaders write Halloween off as a secular holiday, but for members of the Lutheran church, the day carries special significance.
"On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 statements about the Christian faith (on the door of All Saints' Church in Germany)," said Ben Haupt, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gainesville.
"At that time, churches were selling these things called indulgences, which in some ways were a fundraiser for St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The indulgences were being sold under the guise of being forgiveness for sins. The pope was guaranteeing that your sins would be forgiven if you bought those indulgences.
"Luther was appalled because he said forgiveness was free and it came through Jesus being on the cross. He said forgiveness wasn't something we could buy."
On Sunday, Haupt's congregation will continue its tradition of hosting a Reformation Day celebration during its 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. services at the church, which is located at 600 South Enota Drive in Gainesville.
"We continue to have these celebrations because we still believe that forgiveness is a free gift. Our money can't buy a relationship with God," Haupt said.
"Reformation Day is potentially a day that all Christians could celebrate, but I don't know a lot of other denominations that do."
One reason why the celebration is particularly relevant to Lutheran worshippers is because the denomination took its name from the outspoken author.
"The church that broke away from the Roman Catholic church in the 1500s, essentially took Luther's name after he died," Haupt said.
"That's not to say that he was any better than anyone else, or that we agree with everything he said, but there are a lot of things he said or taught, that we still teach today."
The celebration will include an appearance by the Yonah Brass ensemble.
"There will be a special sermon, and our children's church will be more of a history lesson about who Martin Luther was and what he did," Haupt said.
After the church's second service on Sunday, children will be invited to participate in "trunk-or-treat" festivities in the church's parking lot.
All of the services are open to the community.