WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 9, 2017 — West Liberty University’s History instructor Sandra Czernek was selected to present at the National Council for History Education’s annual conference in Atlanta, Ga. later this month.
The Histories Seen and Unseen conference takes place March 30 – April 1. Czernek will present her research during a breakout session on Friday, March 31. It is open to university faculty, teachers and historians around the nation.
“My program is entitled, Faith Alone, Grace Alone: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Since this year marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, I though it was a very appropriate topic,” she said.
Czernek attended last year’s conference and when she learned the theme for 2017 was Histories Seen and Unseen, she could think of no better topic than Martin Luther and the 16th century Protestant Reformation.
“I’ve been interested in the major world religions as far back as I can remember, even when I was a child,” she said. “Luther was tortured by faith issues and feared that he would never be saved, and this forced him to come to his conclusions. To me this is an example of unseen history. It’s not a big battle or a war but a major world change caused by someone’s faith issues.”
The beginning of the Protestant Reformation is usually dated to 1517 when Martin Luther published his “95 Theses.”
“One of the most powerful forces in history is religion. It is one of the many unseen catalysts for history. We sometimes take these things for granted but when you think of how many monumental events have happened historically that were based on faith, it is easy to understand the importance of faith and religion in historical change,” she said.
“Luther, like many others, was concerned and appalled by the corruption in the Catholic Church at the time. The significance of his issues and actions and the consequences are enormous. I find it a very interesting chapter in history and I hope to bring my interest to other teachers and students at the conference.”
According to Czernek, her students tease her about her affection for Martin Luther and other historical icons and she enjoys warning them to steer clear of negative comments on her favorite historical icons.
“We received many proposals and were not able to accept all of them and I am pleased that Sandra is joining our select group of quality program session presenters. Faith Alone, Grace Alone: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation will be valuable to our conference participants,” said John Csepegi, director of Conferences and Events at the National Council for History Education, which promotes historical literacy.
Czernek started at WLU in 2004 as a senior adjunct and became a fulltime history instructor in 2008. The WLU student body twice selected her as Professor of the Year, most recently in 2014.
Prior to her employment at WLU, she taught at West Virginia Northern Community College. She earned her bachelor and master’s degrees at WVU.
The Weirton native now resides in the Warwood neighborhood of Wheeling.
History is a major within the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at WLU and is housed in the College of Liberal Arts.