On Feb. 10, about 60 people gathered on the lawn outside of Tingelstad Hall on the Pacific Lutheran University campus to celebrate a symbolic tree planting known as Luthergarten.

This event was put together in honor of the 500 year anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Lutheran colleges and churches across the country are planting saplings from Wittenberg, Germany or saplings native to the region in order to commemorate the reform movement that produced Lutheran education.

For PLU, this tree planting took on even more meaning. In the words of PLU President Thomas W. Krise, “This ceremony is symbolic of those things we call ourselves to do in our mission statement.”

Throughout the ceremony, these sentiments were echoed by several bishops from Washington, Idaho and Alaska. Bishop Kirby Unti from the Northwest Washington Synod used the tree planting as a way to reconsider our view of the world, saying, “It’s time for us to proclaim that there’s always hope, there’s always promise, there’s always good life and, in fact, this is a very good world.”

Many members of the PLU and Parkland communities turned up for this event, despite the intense wind that caused others to flee indoors.

Juniors Siobhan Flanagan and Alex Lund were two of the students who showed up to watch the ceremony. “It’s nice to see how much of the community turns up for things like tree plantings,” Flanagan said. “There’s not a lot of students per se, but there are a lot of people from the surrounding area.”

Both Flanagan and Lund have been involved in campus ministry, and Lund even attended a tree planting in Wittenberg, Germany with his local bishop.

“It was an amazing experience to see both tree plantings and to be able to see the comparisons between the two,” he said.

University Pastor Jen Rude wrapped up the ceremony with a prayer, full of hope for the community and for the world. She concluded with a powerful quote by Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that the world were to collapse tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.”

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