Bronze statue of Martin Luther to be dedicated on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 30

October 25, 2016

101216-020-creggerRoanoke College will dedicate a bronze statue of Martin Luther on Sunday, Oct. 30, which is Reformation Sunday, during a 4 p.m. ceremony at the new Morris M. Cregger Center’s Luther Plaza. Luther Plaza is the plaza in front of the Center’s High Street entrance at the intersection of High Street and Peery Drive.

The Cregger Center will be dedicated on Thursday, Oct. 27. More information on that event is here.

Roanoke is the second oldest Lutheran college in America. Luther Plaza and the statue of Martin Luther honor Roanoke’s Lutheran heritage on this year’s Reformation Sunday, marking the 499th anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.

The statue was donated by Charles and Helen Schumann of Richmond, Virginia.  The Schumanns are longtime supporters of Roanoke College and its Lutheran heritage. Their gifts to Roanoke have made possible two professorships in recent years – the Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics, held by Dr. James Peterson, and the Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Lutheran Theology, held by Dr. Ned Wisnefske.

The statue is a bronze one-and-a-half larger than life figure of Martin Luther, created by sculptors Betty and Polly Branch of Roanoke, Virginia. The bronze statue is on a 3,800 pound base of absolute black granite from Uruguay. It is engraved with the name of the statue, “Martin Luther,” as well as the three Lutheran colleges that make up the Roanoke alumni heritage –  Roanoke College, Marion College and Elizabeth College. A plaque placed next to the statue holds a quote from the writings of Martin Luther.

Marion College was a Lutheran women’s college in Marion, Virginia, which closed in 1968. Elizabeth College was also a Lutheran women’s college in Salem, once located where Roanoke’s Elizabeth campus is now. Elizabeth College closed after a fire in 1921. Alumnae of both Elizabeth College and Marion College became part of the Roanoke College alumni body and Roanoke maintains the records of the now-closed colleges.

Members of the media and the community are invited to the Martin Luther statue dedication to celebrate Roanoke’s close ties to the Lutheran Church.

Betty Branch earned both her bachelor of arts and master of arts from Hollins University. Proficient in both painting and sculpture, she has spent a portion of many years working at Nicoli Studios in Carrara, Italy. Branch’s award winning art has been exhibited internationally and has been the subject of television documentaries. Her works, from small to monumental, are in many private, corporate, university and museum collections.

Polly Branch, Betty Branch’s daughter, is a community artist and peace advocate working in a variety of media. Her landscapes and figures most often depict an energetic connection to the natural environment. Her murals and mosaics can be seen in Roanoke neighborhoods across the valley.  Polly Branch earned her bachelor of arts in biology from University of Richmond and a master of arts in liberal studies from Hollins University. She sculpts large scale works with her mother.