Come to Germany! All kinds of great stuff. And all kinds of friends at Terra-Lu! The picture above shows about 95 leaders (one for each Thesis) who came from the USA and Canada to Germany in the fall of 2015 to walk in the steps of Martin Luther. We had a great time together and most of these leaders brought groups to Germany in 2017 for the Luther500 Festival or for other unique trips. And most of us will be friends and in contact for the rest of our lives.
This great trip, and the Luther500 Festivals in 2011 and 2013 and 2015 before this, gave birth to the idea of inviting folks to visit all kinds of places in Germany (and around Europe) in a community-building, intergenerational, affordable, and family friendly way. Some want to visit the Luther sites, but there is also much more to see and do throughout Germany (and around Europe). This site will be updated periodically with specific itineraries for travel in 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond.
I've been traveling to Germany since 1997, mostly because of playing in the Lost And Found band with my pal George whose last name is Baum--and what could be more German than that, well, except for Apfelbaum or Tannenbaum. But, the truth is that our trips to Germany always made us think of two things: our grandmothers. Wow. Here we were in the land of planting geraniums, washing the sidewalk, and using canvas bags at the grocery store before Earth Day was even a thing. Sometimes, we'd play a concert and the opening band would be a brass one. Uh huh. A brass band. Just a bunch of kids and neighbors who practice on Tuesday evenings in a medieval timber-frame building and play a few tunes when the American folk-punk band comes to town. And then everyone comes to the show -- kids, parents, teens, grandparents, dads who set up the beer table in the back of the room replete with glass glasses and a jar of cold hotdogs, and the Mayor (by that I mean the Burgermeister) who presents us with chocolate, flowers, and a picture book about the town. Now that I would always think, is my kind of concert. All are welcome. And all are willing to have a look. As we all put the chairs away, and everyone helps us carry instruments and leftover CDs to the van, I think, "I'd like my friends to see what it's like in Germany."
I became close friends with Christian Utpatel who was the National Youth Pastor in Germany for ten years, yet on the side arranged our concert tours in Germany. Christian is a travel professional who is also an ordained Lutheran pastor, a Reformation scholar, and a member of the city council in Homberg. When my wife and I brought our first daughter to be baptized by our friend Rev. Scott Moore in the font in Eisleben where Martin Luther was baptized, Christian and I sat up late one night and thought, "we should find a way to make it possible for folks in the USA and Canada to see the Luther sites and other parts of Germany." So we dreamed up the Luther500 Festival, and joined together with George and lots of friends, and held the first one in 2011. The week before the second festival in 2013, my wife and I brought our second daughter to be baptized in the Luther font by Pastor Moore (with Godparents George and Cris as witnesses). How fun. Well, I hope the girls will remember their baptisms, but I know for sure that their mom, dad, Uncle Mark, and Godparents will. That was 2013, when we had the second super successful Luther500 Festival. We had another in the fall of 2015 and then six weeks in 2017! Now, 2019 is filling up, and 2021 (when we’ll be in Wittnberg and Worms) is in the works.
And I guess this is part of the story now too: keep your eyes open for Luther: The Rock Opera which George and I wrote music and lyrics for, based on the Graphic Novel Luther by Dr. Rich Melheim. The "Concert Version" of the Rock Opera is ready for you to perform any time you like. It takes about three rehearsals to learn and about an hour to perform. Sing 24 songs in a row, project slides for scenery behind you, and you've got yourself a Rock Opera! It's a fun and memorable way to observe Reformation Day. Then, of course, you can come on the tour and see all the places you've been singing about!