In the beginning was the cloud. In 2014, we started to think about what we wanted to have represent Reformed Switzerland at the June 2015 German Protestant Church Congress (Kirchentag) in Stuttgart – in the midst of a majority Lutheran crowd.
We ultimately decided to put together three lists of items made up of people, places, and broader topics for the three inside walls of our large festival tent, taken from the 2002 book Die Reformierten: Suchbilder einer Identität on the Reformed and their identity. In total, 138 such entries were on display, historical and present, from both near and far. Daniel Lienhard compiled these into three tag clouds, as can be found on the Internet, exhibited in different colors in conjunction with the green R used to mark the Reformation and the Reformed movement. The tent in Stuttgart was also to be put together in a way making it possible for the materials to be used again later.
The three clouds were in fact put back on display in Kappel, where the annual Zurich church events were held from January to March 2016, this time on the topic of why and how the Reformed Reformation should be celebrated 500 years on. Each evening, individuals were able to ask for information on one of the 138 entries, and if nobody on hand was able to provide that information, it was our turn to offer it. We worked on brief profiles to help us to that end, a project that developed into the predecessor of the lexicon. Our success with this in Kappel, and inquiries made by visitors from the German Reformed Alliance and from within the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) encouraged us to expand on our “cheat sheets” from the event and shape them into a lexicon in the true sense of the word.
The clouds are now replete with nearly three times as many entries, people, places, and other topics – all presented in telegram form. The articles cover a wide range of Reformed regions throughout the world and stretch from the beginnings of the Reformation to our own contemporaries today. People who have sympathized with Reformed ideas have also been included, as well as individuals from all walks of life. We took strides to maintain a balance between women and men as well. While information was taken both from lexicons and literature as well as online sources, we did not add any sourcing information for the sake of readability.
Clouds can conceal surprises, and after 500 years, it can be of great interest to discover who the mothers and fathers were of the Reformed movement, how they embodied Reformed thought and action, where we can trace their heritage today, what inspired them, and whether the same spirit can continue to inspire us in our own lives. Remembering can mean renewal.
We thank the Zurich Church Council and the FSPC for their commission and support, the regional churches for recommending this book, and numerous individuals who supported us with their ideas and information. May the cloud move on to be a pleasant surprise to many others in the future.
A cloud full of letters? These entries are not, however, cloudy at all, but precise and to the point – well within the Reformed tradition. We find the names of a variety of individuals, a number of painters, a pop singer, a queen, a large number of noblewomen, a goldsmith, an astronaut, theologians of course, and a number of places of importance to the Reformation. The collection is eclectic and makes for easy reading. And the clouds of our own thoughts quickly drift along in a variety of directions along with those of these witnesses to faith. We may indeed come across many a theological pearl in the process: Concise and understandable short articles on issues primary to what the authors view as the Reformed identity. Clear thoughts find precise expression here, often worth discussing and always worth our consideration. If we are open to them, we are moved to think for ourselves. And that is indeed the intent of the authors; the Reformed Reformation has always been an educational movement to a great degree. Reading, thinking, and interpreting for ourselves are things to be learned as part of a lifelong process. We therefore wish all of our readers great joy and success to this end!
Gottfried Wilhelm Locher, Council President, Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
The Reformation from A to Z: This is not a systematic approach but one that is more associative and even at times seemingly random. The essence of the Reformation cannot be ascertained through logical conclusions of a kind of causality, but only gradually through trials and tribulations, through things written and others overlooked. The first thing I did was to look for who or what was missing – for example under R for readership! You are indeed invited to seek out and discover more for yourself!
Has the project been a success? Have the authors done what they set out to do? It has been the intention of authors Matthias Krieg and Anne Durrer to raise people’s interest and awareness for these topics and to prompt them to learn and think. And it is appropriate enough for us to approach the Reformation through a wide variety of historical topics and its impact on both past and present, since this refutes the idea that a single individual discovered it all at one time and in one place, launching it alone with the blow of a hammer. The Reformation is actually quite diverse, spanning any number of topics from A to Z, even if it is rather predictable in the end, closing with Zurich and Zwingli at the end of the alphabet. It is my hope that you will enjoy this lexicon and the journey from A to Z as provided by Anne Durrer and Matthias Krieg.
Michel Müller, Church Council President, Reformed Church of Zurich
Photo: © Reformed Church of Zurich