In addition to his role as one of the 17th century bishops of the Moravian Church, John Amos Comenius was also a ground-breaking scholar and advocate in educational reform. In his important work on education, “The Great Didactic,” Comenius wrote, “If, in each hour, a man could learn a single fragment of some branch of knowledge, a single rule of some mechanical art, a single pleasing story or proverb (the acquisition of which would require no effort), what a vast stock of learning he might lay by. Seneca is therefore right when he says: ‘Life is long, if we know how to use it.’ It is consequently of importance that we understand the art of making the very best use of our lives.”
After considering this call for life-long learning, lay leaders and members of Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem worked with the church’s pastors to develop a way of helping others in this very Moravian quest for the expansion of the mind.
Through their discussions, the team envisioned a fall and spring series of monthly discussion-based presentations by professors in various disciplines from the Moravian community, created to showcase our passion for education to the wider community. This vision became “The Comenius Forum.”
The group at Central started by getting to know their congregation’s talents for education. From archivists to retired geologists to active anthropologists, they invited those in higher education to engage us in subjects with which they were passionate.
Since beginning the Forums in January of 2011 (and as they approach their fourth season), Central has held more than a dozen forums, with topics ranging from “Germs and the Public” to “Poetry and Memoir Writing—What Does It Mean to be Human?” to “Energy Explorations for Our Future.”
During the past year and a half, we have been pleased with the variety of disciplines and the engaged discussions we have enjoyed with members and visitors following church on a Sunday in the Old Chapel of Central Moravian Church. We are now working to attract more community members to participate and hope that the future will provide us with additional opportunities to engage our congregation and community in Comenius’ quest: “How do we make the very best use of our lives?”
The next Comenius Forum series begins Sunday, Sept. 16 at 12:30 in the Old Chapel of Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem. To learn more about the Comenius Forum, including dates and upcoming series topics, visit http://www.centralmoravianchurch.org/get-connected/adult-education/.
The Rev. Janel Rice is pastor at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa.
From the September 2012 Moravian Magazine