Former Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Reformation Day service

A former Archbishop of Canterbury is the guest preacher at an ecumenical service in Holy Trinity Parish Church in St Andrews this afternoon to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Holy Trinity Parish Church St Andrews
Holy Trinity Parish Church St Andrews, courtesy of Wikipedia contributor kilnburn

Right Rev Dr Rowan Williams, who led the Church of England between 2002-12, is following in the footsteps of Scotland’s great Reformer John Knox, who preached in the 15th century church in 1559.

Knox is said to have delivered a fiery sermon that sparked off a riot provoking the congregation to storm the town’s Cathedral where they tore down its statues and ornaments.

St Andrews, which has been a centre of pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years, was the birthplace of the Scottish Reformation.

It is the only place in the UK to be officially designated as a “City of the Reformation” by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, who are leading the anniversary celebrations.

Churches across the city have been working with the University of St Andrews to create a programme of exhibitions and events to mark the occasion.

Rev Alison McDonald, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, will attend the 5.30pm service along with Rev Dr John McPake, the Kirk’s Ecumenical Officer and Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk of the General Assembly.

Mrs McDonald said: “I'm delighted that this important anniversary is being marked ecumenically in services in Scotland and across Europe today.

“It is significant that an anniversary of historic church division has become a focus for reconciliation and for affirming our common calling as Christians.”

Four early Reformers were put to death for their beliefs in the city.

They include the first Scottish Protestant martyr, 24-year-old Patrick Hamilton, in 1527 and the last, 88-year-old Walter Milne, in 1558.

They are remembered with the Martyrs’ Monument which overlooks the sea.

John Knox was educated at the University of St Andrews and was a preacher to the Protestant nobles who took over the former bishops’ palace in the Castle.

The Reformation Day service will be held at 5:30pm on Tuesday 31 October in Holy Trinity Parish Church, South Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9U.