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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Communiversity

College program connects school and community

If you're looking for Mr. Wright (the architect, that is), dinosaurs or God and the movies, you can find them and nearly 40 other topics at the Fargo-Moorhead Communiversity, an ecumenical continuing education program held every winter at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.

Last year the four-week program served 1,300 adults, including Ron Ellingson, an agricultural information manager at Crystal Sugar, Moorhead, and a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D. Like Ellingson, most students are older adults who have a college or advanced degree and live within 100 miles of the college.

Ellingson has taken classes for more years than he can remember. "Communiversity is a bright spot in the middle of winter," he says. "It's a place where the community can go and learn in a nonthreatening atmosphere. And we've always had such tremendous and mind-extending instructors."

Those instructors — who teach music, creative living, liberal arts, sciences and theology — come from the community as well as from Concordia; North Dakota State University, Fargo; and Minnesota State University, Moorhead. Most teach during February at Concordia and other community sites, including local retirement centers. Some spice up their offerings with inspirational lunch hour lectures, special workshops and concerts.

Founded by Concordia religion professor James Hofrenning in 1965 with 18 students, Communiversity is all about the joy of learning. There are no prerequisites, examinations, papers or credits. Its faculty, funding and planning committees are all ecumenical. So are the alumni, who now number 31,000.

"The genius of Communiversity is that it is a creature of the community," says Paul Dovre, former president of Concordia. "It is grass-roots ecumenism at its best."


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October issue

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