Swiss Protestants mark 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth

By Ecumenical News International
October 11, 2007

The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches has launched an interactive website as part of its celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary in 2009 of the birth of Protestant reformer Jean Calvin.

"We want Calvin to come alive for the people of our time through this Web site," the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and chairperson of the Web site's committee of patrons, said when the site was launched on 28 September 2007.

The website presents in four languages a calendar of jubilee events worldwide, and information on Calvin's life and teaching.

The Reformer was born on 10 July 1509 in Noyon in northern France but is known worldwide for his role in the Protestant Reformation in Geneva, a once independent city-state which became part of Switzerland in 1815.

As the official website for the Calvin celebrations, is now running two competitions. The first invites musicians to compose a hymn for the anniversary year. The second challenges people to submit "the most interesting, substantial and catching sermon" that offers "new, surprising perspectives" on Calvin's significance today.

Protestant churches around the world are planning a wide range of events to mark the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

"We are eager to receive information that can be shared through this Web site concerning the various events being planned all around the world to mark Calvin's 500th birthday," said Kirkpatrick. "We hope and dream that will be as stimulating and relevant for the 21st century as the theology of John Calvin itself!"

The committee of patrons for the website is made up of 18 representatives from academic and church institutions. It includes, as co-chairpersons, Charlotte Kuffer, vice-president of the Protestant Church of Geneva, and the Rev Thomas Wipf, president of the Swiss Protestant federation.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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