Press Release Geneva, 2. November 2008
The calvin09 year which celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jean Calvin has been inaugurated in front of the Reformers’ Wall in Geneva by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Protestant Church of Geneva.
“Jean Calvin is one of the most powerful theologians in history. His work provided the Reformation movement with a first systematization of its thought, which strengthened the movement amd helped the churches to organize themselves. Very soon it allowed the ideas of the Reformation to undergo an unprecedented geographical expansion,” asserted Thomas Wipf, President of the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches.“Calvin, the visionary Reformer, sparked off a movement which has spread to the four corners of the earth: more than 80 million Christians living in 107 countries today acknowledge his legacy.” With these words Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), and Clifton Kirkpatrick, WARC President, opened the ceremony at the Reformers’ Wall – prerecorded from China. Representatives of Reformed congregations from all over the world were present at the traditional ceremony of the Company of Pastors, which this year was devoted to the founder of the Company, Jean Calvin.
The inauguration brought out the legacy of Calvin rather than his portrait: Calvin democratized the ministry of the church and in so doing inaugurated a culture of collegiality in the affairs of a community. Calvin put God above all authority. He strengthened the unity between believing and doing, between freedom and responsibility. Calvin reinforced bridges between humanist thought and Christian convictions. “The church would be different without Jean Calvin,” concluded Thomas Wipf, “and so would Geneva.”
The main lines of the festivities were unveiled at a press conference which followed. The calvin09 year will be punctuated by key occasions, spectacles, exhibitions, public courses and concerts. The International Museum of the Reformation will present the exhibition “A Day in the Life of Calvin”, while parishes can download or order a ready-to-use mini-exhibition. All the details of the events in Switzerland and throughout the world can be consulted on line at the international and interactive site www.calvin09.org: for example the great spectacle “Jean Calvin” in front of the Reformers’ Wall, the official ceremony in Geneva on 14 June 2009, or the reconstruction of a typical 16th-century Huguenot village.
Finally, a number of products which can be ordered from the on-line boutique were presented. The book on Calvin and Calvinism published by the FSPC and Labor & Fides will provide stimulating food for thought, while the calvin09 chocolate created specially for the occasion will be another way of evoking the memory of the Reformer John Calvin.