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A historic Catholic-Lutheran agreement on salvation will be celebrated locally during an ecumenical service at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 5480 Main St., Williamsville.

The document brings the Catholic Church and churches in the Lutheran World Federation together on the issue of "justification," a central issue in the Protestant Reformation. It was signed Oct. 31 in Augsburg, Germany, by representatives of both bodies.

The Rev. John A. Buerk, ecumenical officer for the Niagara Frontier Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the local service will mark the signing of the historic document through the celebration of a liturgy designed specifically for joint Catholic-Lutheran worship.

"This new understanding on justification is evidence that obstacles between our Christian denominations can be transcended," Buerk said.

The Rev. Francis X. Mazur, ecumenical officer for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, pointed out that the service is being held during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins on Jan. 18, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, and ends on Jan. 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

For that reason, the Rev. James O'Connor, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul, offered to be host of the service in his church, Mazur said.

The speaker will be the Rev. Peter J. Drilling, a theology professor at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, and pastor of St. Anthony's Parish, Lackawanna.

Choirs from Parkside Lutheran and SS. Peter and Paul will provide the music.

The doctrine of justification deals with how mankind achieves salvation.

Martin Luther took the position, based on Scripture, that salvation was strictly a gift from God -- made possible because Jesus won salvation for mankind through his life, death and resurrection.

Catholics traditionally took the position that the gift must be combined with good works on their part to earn a greater reward in heaven.

In the justification document, Catholics and Lutherans agreed that salvation is a gift and the response to it is love of neighbor, which inspires good works.

Churches to join for Epiphany

Ten churches in Cattaraugus, Erie and Wyoming counties will jointly sponsor an Epiphany Celebration at 7 p.m. Thursday in SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 417 Main St., Arcade.

The service, to be followed by a reception, will be the first in a series of events planned by the Arcade Historical Society's Millennium Committee to commemorate the arrival of the year 2000. It will consist of prayers, Scripture readings and Christmas carols.

Besides SS. Peter and Paul's, participating churches will be Arcade United Methodist, Chaffee Baptist, First Baptist of Arcade, Hope Lutheran of Arcade, Java Congregational, Sardinia United Methodist, Delevan United Methodist, St. Mary's Catholic of East Arcade and Arcade United Church of Christ Congregational.

King Mass, commemoration set

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese will hold its annual Mass and commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 16 in St. James Catholic Church, 10 Hastings Ave..

Bishop Henry J. Mansell will be principal celebrant of the Mass, and the Rev. Roy T. Herberger, administrator of SS. Columba and Brigid Parish, will be guest homilist. Everyone is welcome.

The observance will include the awarding of scholarships to students from Catholic Central School and Turner-Carroll High School. The selection of winners will be based on an essay contest in which students presented a new version of the "I Have a Dream" speech dealing with violence, respect, segregation and academic achievement.

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