A letter from Karen Moritz in the Czech Republic
“In the Footsteps of Jan Hus and Martin Luther”
Everywhere you look you see images of him, you see signs with his name on it, and you hear people talking about him. Who is he? He is probably one of the most famous people here in the Czech Republic and Prague. His name is Jan Hus. For most of us in the U.S. he is not very well known, except by those with Czech heritage or by avid students of the Reformation. He was one of the earliest Reformers, predating Martin Luther and John Calvin. Later he became the father of the Czech nation. The Communist regime saw him as an example of the exemplary citizen, a man who fought against corrupt institutions for the average person. Like Martin Luther he has an upcoming anniversary. 2015 is the year of Jan Hus; 600 years ago on July 6, 1415, he was burned at the stake. His statue looms large in the center of Old Town Square. Streets, bridges, and squares are named after him. I work in his house, Husův Dům.
People throughout the Czech Republic are preparing to celebrate this important anniversary and our partners in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) are no exception. The Church is partnering with other denominations, notably the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, to prepare a variety of events for the year of celebration. In anticipation of this the ECCB and the PC(USA) are working together to plan and lead a travel/study seminar this year entitled “In the Footsteps of Jan Hus and Martin Luther.” Sixteen people from the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Norway, and Sweden will be gathering together from April 28 through May 6 to learn more about Hus and the connections between the Bohemian and German Reformations.
Preparing this seminar has also involved gathering together a variety of people throughout the Czech Republic and Germany. There will be presenters from the Protestant Theological Faculty and the Hussite Theological Faculty of Charles University. There will also be trips outside Prague to other parts of the Czech Republic. One stop will be in Kralice, where there is a museum marking the preparation of the Kralice Bible. Just as the King James Bible not only shaped the faith of countless Christians but also shaped the English language, so the Kralice Bible shaped the faith of countless Christians and helped shape the Czech language. The group will then go to Telč, one of the oldest and most scenic towns in the Czech Republic. There the group will learn about the lasting heritage of the Bohemian Reformation in the church today. There will also be a trip to the historic town of Tábor. The Taborites and the Hussites were some of the followers of Hus who tried to continue his reforms. In addition to the trips out of town and the various presentations the group will also travel throughout Prague. The group will visit landmarks of the Reformation and various cultural monuments as well, like the Castle and the Jewish Quarter. However, lest you think there is no room for fun, the group will have the chance to attend a Czech opera at the National Theater and there will be a concert at the famed Rudolfinum Concert Hall. And of course there will be worship. The seminar will open with a Communion Service at Martin in the Wall Church and will include devotions throughout the seminar.
The seminar will conclude in Germany with a trip to Dresden and a visit to the historic Reformation town of Lutherstadt Wittenberg. There we’ll learn more about Martin Luther and we’ll hear about the upcoming Luther Jubilee in 2017. As the seminar draws to a close we will hopefully get a better sense of how the Bohemian and German Reformations are connected. Following a tour through the historic town there will be a closing worship service. The seminar will conclude with a dinner at which we will be joined by two illustrious guests: Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther and a leading Reformer in her own right, and Barbara Cranach, wife of the renowned painter Louis Cranach. Cranach and his wife were close friends with the Luthers. Katharina and Barbara will share something about their illustrous husbands and about their participation in the Reformation.
I am so grateful for all the support that makes our shared ministry possible. Thank you for your prayers, your financial support, and your participation in our service together. I invite you to continue with your support. I so value your notes and emails—they make my day. Your financial support, as individuals and congregations, makes it possible for me to serve here on your behalf and I am truly grateful for every gift. In addition to your continued support:
I invite your prayers for the continued partnership between the ECCB and the PC(USA).
Please pray for those planning and attending the seminar.
Please pray for the witness of the Church throughout the Czech Republic and Europe, particularly as we move through Lent and into the Easter season.
With a joyful heart,
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 314
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