By Jill Palmer
To honor the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Beeghly Library is hosting an exhibit about Martin Luther until Nov. 13. This exhibit is just one “building block” that is part of a larger program sponsored by a grant from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. The goal of this exhibit is not only to commemorate the anniversary, but also to inspire others to act as agents of change as well.
The display in the library was provided by the German Embassy. There were several different themes to choose from for this year’s German Week, and the Reformation was the theme that was eventually decided on. According to Deb Roney, Assistant Professor of English at Juniata College and the Director of Language in Motion, “We decided to go with the Reformation theme because of our Brethren heritage, and we thought it would fit in nicely with the kind of institution that Juniata is and the kinds of questions that seem to matter to our students.” The Reformation not only ties in with the history of the college, but also in the lives of many of Juniata’s student body who are now living the effects of Luther’s Reformation.
There are many other activities and events scheduled in conjunction with the library exhibit as part of the anniversary celebration. According to Deb Roney, “Last week we collaborated with Professor Dunwoody to participate in his Diversity and Democracy series. We put together a panel of seven presenters. Each of them provided a snapshot of either an individual or a movement of people who were agents of change in history, and then we had a discussion about what it takes to be an agent of change and whether or not all change is positive.”
This exhibit is meant to inspire other people to become agents of change in the modern day. According to Judith Benz, Associate Professor of German at Juniata College, “What was important to us was not just to dwell in the 16th century, but also to bring this idea of change more into contemporary times. An important point to make is that this isn’t something that happened in the 16th century and sort of closed off, but rather this is an event that still reverberates today. The final poster in the exhibit is Martin Luther King juxtaposed with Martin Luther. The changes that were started by the Reformation are still visible today, and not only matter to people who grew up in Protestant churches.”
“We are hoping that the posters help pique curiosity. We want it to engender a desire to know more about this topic and to think about how this experience in the past might teach me something that I could use in the present or even in the future about how change happens, the kinds of people who can effect change or not. What kind of courage does it take to stand up against an institution that you think is doing something reprehensible?” Roney said.
In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the exhibit about Martin Luther will be displayed in the Beeghly Library from now until Nov. 13. Thanks to a grant from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., aside from the exhibit, there are many other events and activities planned as part of the Reformation anniversary. Everyone is encouraged to view this exhibit and participate in related activities as not only part of observing the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, but also taking into consideration how they may act as agents of change within their own communities.