John Calvin's 500th anniversary celebrations drew a much higher level of interest from the general public than expected, say organizers of Calvin events.
The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and head of the Calvin09 project, called this year's celebrations of the 16th century Protestant reformer a resounding success.
"The results exceeded our expectations," he said in a statement.
Christians across the globe began celebrating the quincentenary of Calvin's birth early this year. Thousands have participated in festivals, services, lectures, exhibitions and concerts in remembrance of the French theologian who has had a profound influence over entire religious movements.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Protestant Church of Geneva inaugurated the Calvin09 year in front of the Reformers' Wall in Geneva last November. A committee was set up to serve as an umbrella group for numerous local and national initiatives and to promote the meaning and significance of the anniversary.
"The church would be different without Jean Calvin," Thomas Wipf, vice president of the committee and president of the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, said during the inauguration.
Kirkpatrick believes Calvin09 has reconnected Reformed Christians to their roots.
"The focus on Calvin has led many Reformed Christians to a new appreciation of their heritage and their connections with one another," he commented. "We no longer felt the need to apologize for Calvin but rather found much in his thoughts, his actions and his legacy that is truly life-giving for our time."
Christian pastors in the United States recently paid tribute to Calvin, lauding him for upholding Scripture as the only source of religious truth and for placing all emphasis on the glory of God.
While recognizing Calvin's significant contributions to both the Reformation and democracy, Christian leaders have reminded fellow believers that their mission is to magnify the glory of Jesus Christ.
"Our business here is to glorify God not Calvin," Doug Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, said during a Desiring God Ministries conference last month. "To glorify Calvin instead of God would be the biggest way to insult Calvin."
Calvin09 events are scheduled to take place until the end of the year.
On the Web: http://www.calvin09.org/EN/home/home.html