JAF Honors Program Begins 9th Year

October 3, 2012

Media Contact
M. Ryan Groff, JAF Program Coordinator

WENHAM, MA—Since its inception in the fall of 2004, the Jerusalem and Athens Forum (JAF) has welcomed nearly 130 students into the interdisciplinary honors program. Through a great books course in the history of Christian thought and literature, the program strives to help students reflect on the relationship between faith and intellect, deepen their own sense of vocation, and awaken their capacities for intellectual and moral leadership.

"It's hard to believe JAF is already in its ninth year,"says Tal Howard, director and professor of history. "It only seems like yesterday we were making plans and recruiting our first group of students."

Participants in each cohort have begun their year of readings, discussions and cultural outings in a weekend retreat. Program students, staff and faculty meet at the Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center, in Byfield, MA. The retreat center, run by the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, an order of Christian women, fosters a monoastic spirit with cycles of fellowship, silence and prayer in the Anglican tradition.  

A Friday afternoon discussion with a senior member of Gordon's faculty featuers a roundtable on the value of liberal learning, the contemplative life and leisure. The faculty discussant is also asked to reflect on their own sense of vocational trajectory in conversation with texts students are reading. This year's faculty discussant was Dan Russ, Academic Dean of Gordon College.

For the retreat, students read Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture and a commencement essay from Jaroslav Pelikan titled, "A Porrait of a Christian as a Young Intellectual." On Saturday morning, students entered smaller groups with other Gordon staff and faculty to discuss these texts. This year's leaders were Ryan Groff, JAF program coordinator, Agnes Howard, adjunct professor of history, and Hilary Sherratt, JAF alumna ('09–'10) and college grant writer.

The retreat continued Saturday with lunch and an afternoon of strolling about Newburyport, Massachusetts. To learn more about the JAF program, please visit www.gordon.edu/jaf or contact .   

Picture: JAF cohort standing in front of Eat Cake, a dessert shop in Newburyport, MA. View the original picture on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jaforum.

JAF Students