Oct. 8, 2012
On October 25th, Reformation Day at Emory will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, commemorating Richard and Martha Kessler’s donation of their private collection of Reformation imprints and manuscripts to the university in 1987.
Held at Pitts Theology Library, the Kessler Collection has grown since the original donation to include more than 3,500 items—a number matched by only two other libraries in North America; the collection stands alone in its holding of more than 1,000 publications by Martin Luther himself.
The Reformation Day program’s theme, “The Kessler Collection After Twenty-Five Years,” celebrates the first 25 years of the Kessler Collection by noting its value for scholars, students, and the church. For example, the Kessler Collection brings many works from the Reformation period to the United States for the first time, providing a tremendous resource for North American scholars. Additionally, the Kessler Collection is ecumenical, gathering materials from Catholic, Reformed, and Anabaptist authors, in addition to Lutheran sources, which provides scholars with the opportunity to hear the full range of voices that were raised in the dynamic period of the Reformation.
Rev. Jan Rippentrop, a doctoral student in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion and a Lutheran pastor, will begin the day’s events with an address titled, “The Spirit of Worship: Lutheran Theology of the Activity of the Holy Spirit in Hearing God’s Word.” Rippentrop will provide the perspective of one who is working with the materials of the Kessler Collection in her research excavating Lutheran liturgical developments.
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will deliver “A Living, Daring Confidence,” an address that draws on Martin Luther’s description of faith as a “living, daring confidence in God’s grace.” Hanson will explore the opportunities for a Lutheran witness to the gospel within a richly pluralistic and diverse culture that at the same time is marked by increasing partisanship and disparities between rich and poor.
Dr. Dewey Kramer, professor emerita of German, humanities, and religion at Georgia Perimeter College, will deliver the day’s final lecture with “The Man Who Loosed Luther’s German Tongue: New Approaches to Johann Tetzel.” Her address will examine the complexity of the conflict between Johann Tetzel and Martin Luther, as well as an overview of the steps taken during the 20th century toward increased understanding between the Catholic and Lutheran communities. These actions were influenced by Catholic and Lutheran scholarship of original sources, which illustrates the importance of returning to works held in the Kessler Collection to guide contemporary ecumenical relations.
The schedule also includes worship at 11:00 a.m. with the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South and former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, presiding. The Candler Singers, under the direction of Barbara Day Miller, will provide a luncheon musical program.
Reformation Day at Emory is free of charge and open to the public. All events except lunch will take place in Cannon Chapel. Reservations for lunch are required and should be made by calling 404.727.6352 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The full schedule may be viewed at http://www.pitts.emory.edu/visit/news-events/reformation-day.cfm.