News Release: Events, Religion and Ethics

Oct. 8,  2009

Reformation Day Scheduled at Emory

Candler School of Theology's 22nd annual event focuses on Luther, youth education

News Article ImageView a detailed schedule of Reformation Day events.

Emory University's Candler School of Theology will honor theologian Martin Luther's contributions to education at its 22nd annual Reformation Day program Tuesday, Oct. 20.

"Luther and the Education of Youth" is the theme of the event, which includes an array of lectures, music and worship.

The 2009 Reformation Day lectures will offer the insights of scholars such as:

  • Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, who will examine how Luther makes sense in a modern world;
  • Christopher Brown, assistant professor of church history at Boston University School of Theology, who will discuss how Luther changed the way education was delivered; and
  • Jonathan Strom, associate professor of church history at Candler, who will discuss Luther, learning and literacy.

The program culminates at 8 p.m. in a concert of Bach's Cantata 126, based on the chorale "Keep us, O' Lord, in thy Word," performed by the Emory University Concert Choir under the direction of Eric Nelson. Organist Sarah Hawbecker will play chorale preludes by Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach. The concert will take place in the Cherry Emerson Concert Hall at the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, located at the corner of North Decatur and Clifton roads. The concert is free and open to the public.

A detailed schedule of Reformation Day events is available online.


Reformation Day at Emory is scheduled each year for the Tuesday before Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October. Reformation Day marks the day in 1517 when Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses seeking debate about church doctrine and practices to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. What followed became known as the Protestant Reformation.

This year's Reformation Day program marks the 22nd anniversary of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, which was established at Pitts Theology Library in 1987 when Richard and Martha Kessler donated their private collection of Reformation imprints and manuscripts to Emory University. For the first decade, the event was a celebration of sacred music, but it was gradually expanded to include lectures and other components.
Luther's importance to education is considerable, said M. Patrick Graham, Margaret A. Pitts Professor of Theological Bibliography and Director of Pitts Theology Library. He said Luther's small catechism was used as a textbook in schools and was widely circulated during Luther's day.

Graham hopes the program will give attendees a better appreciation of Luther's importance to education and a sense of how people still benefit from Luther's efforts.

Growing the Kessler collection has been challenging and exciting because the availability of materials is very limited, Graham said. "You can't go to or a local bookstore and easily find a copy of the item you need. Typically, a single copy of a work appears and it's bought quickly. Sometimes, decades pass without a certain work ever being offered for sale."

About Candler School of Theology

Candler School of Theology, Emory University, is an intellectually vital, internationally distinguished, and intentionally diverse university-based school of theology. Its mission is to educate faithful and creative leaders for the church's ministries in the world. Candler is dedicated to expanding knowledge of religion and theology, deepening spiritual life, strengthening the public witness of the churches, and building upon the breadth of Christian traditions, particularly the Wesleyan heritage, for the positive transformation of church and world. It is one of 13 United Methodist Church seminaries, and its enrollment includes more than 500 students from more than 50 denominations.


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