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Seminary to hold Videoconference Focusing on Comenius and Moravian History

Bethlehem, Pa. October 3, 2005—Moravian Theological Seminary will hold a videoconference focusing on Moravian history called Comenius and the Reform of Christianity from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 16. The conference will link the seminary’s distance learning classroom with a video-conference classroom at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church location in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The Reverend Dr. Craig D. Atwood will guide discussion regarding how Jan Amos Comenius’ works relate to contemporary church, culture, and the renewal of both in times of great change. Called "the father of modern education" for his revolutionary educational principles, Comenius was a man of his time in thinking of education in religious terms. Comenius was born to a Moravian family in the Czech Republic (most likely the village of Nivnice) in 1592. He studied at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and became an ordained pastor. Throughout the rest of his life, he would work not only as a minister but as a teacher. After his home and all his manuscripts and possessions were burned in 1621, Comenius lived and worked in various places throughout Europe, including Poland, Sweden, England, the Netherlands, and Royal Hungary.

His writings about education, particularly The Great Didactic, were well-received throughout the continent. He was elected a Moravian bishop in 1625. Comenius again lost all his belongings in 1657 when the Polish turned against the Moravians for helping the attack of a Protestant Swedish army. He died in Amsterdam in 1670. Comenius’ educational beliefs included educating boys and girls, sense training for pre-school children, a curriculum still in use for elementary school children, the teaching of social studies and science in secondary schools, giving students personal experience with the subject matter whenever possible, making school as pleasant as possible, and educating students to be great thinkers instead of great memorizers. He wrote the first children’s picture book as an educational aid. He is often recognized on lists of “the most important people in the last millennium” for his work in education and developmental psychology.

Atwood is Comenius Scholar at Wake Forest Divinity School and the Theologian in Residence at Home Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He supervises the Public Theology program at Wake Forest as well as teaching courses in historical theology and Moravian Studies. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Moravian Theological Seminary and a doctoral degree in historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the editor of The Hinge: A Journal of Christian Thought for the Moravian Church. Atwood is also the author of the award-winning book Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem.

The videoconference is free to attend. Register for the program by filling out the registration form on the seminary’s website, or by mailing the registration form enclosed in the seminary’s Continuing Ed Program 2005-2006 Catalog. To request a catalog or further information, call Millie Román-Buday at 610-861-1519. Those in attendance will receive 0.2 Continuing Education Units.