Symposium to shed light on modern reformation

Reformation: Transforming the World One Door at a Time is the theme for this year’s Symposium.





What do Doctor Who, Kanye West, a church door, climate change, and a small German town all have in common? They are all included in this year’s Faith, Reason, and World Affairs Symposium, entitled Reformation: Transforming the World One Door at a Time.

Symposium will be held Sept. 19-20 and will include events and activities such as guest speakers, a variety of concurrent sessions, a dramatic production, a replica of a German marketplace, and much more. Classes convene at Symposium, so all are able to participate.

Though Symposium attendance is technically mandatory, it can be tempting for some students to skip, especially if there is not a required assignment for their class. However, according to those who helped plan the event, opportunities like this are few and far between.

“This is part of our community. This is something we value,” said librarian Virginia Connell, a member of this year’s planning committee. “This is one of the last times you’ll get to do an event like this, you’ll get to do it for free, you get to do it when it automatically fits into your schedule. It’s easy to dismiss it when you’re a college student, because  you think, ‘Oh, life’s going to be full of opportunities like this,’ but then you get out and you find out, ‘Well, maybe not!’”

As a librarian on the committee, Connell makes sure there are adequate resources available to students and staff alike to enhance the experience of Symposium. Uniquely positioned in the library, she is aware of almost everything happening on campus and in classes, and brings this perspective to planning Symposium.

“What we’ve increasingly done, in the time that I’ve been here, is we’ve tried to lean much more towards making the resources available online, and then making them be introductions to the topic, but introductions that are easily worked into a class…and that works out really well to spark interest or synthesize the things that students have learned already,” Connell said.

In addition to online resources, the concurrent sessions were selected to draw in students from all corners of campus. Titles include “Kanye West’s 95 Theses: Is Hip-Hop a Euphemism for a New Religion?” and “Tardis vs. Monastery: Why Being Bigger on the Inside Today is What the Medieval Artists Started Millennia Ago.” As a result, students are able to attend the sessions they are most passionate about and actively engage with the Symposium topic.

“A lot of community is coming together to make this event,” said Katelyn Mitchell, student curator of the Symposium art exhibit on Luther. “We didn’t want all the concurrent sessions to simply be about Martin Luther. It’s relevant to students’ interests and they’re really tailoring it towards the student body this year. And there’s food. Food is always good.”

But if free food is not enough incentive, Reverend Dr. Ernest Simmons, Symposium Chair, offers another perspective.

“If you want to learn some possible routes to change — social, political, religious, economic change — then you should come,” Simmons said. “I would hope that students want to come, first of all, to be challenged. That these are changes that need to be made to our society and our time. And then more personally challenged, ‘How can I make a contribution to constructive change?’”

Concordia’s academic emphasis is on BREWing: Becoming Responsibly Engaged with the World, and that is exactly what Reformation: Transforming the World One Door at a Time focuses on.

“This is an opportunity…to raise up the rich history that is responsible for the founding of this college. But also it’s not a requiem for the reformation. To raise this history up is not to be restricted by it, but to be inspired and motivated by it. I like to say that tradition should function as a compass to guide us into the future, rather than a lock to keep the future out.”

A full schedule of Symposium events can be found at

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