In 1992, a visiting student at the Harvard Divinity School, Kelly Monroe, observed that many of her fellow students felt isolated in their search for meaning and truth. This sense of disconnection was particularly striking in contrast with Harvard’s spiritual heritage. As she learned, the mission of Harvard College at its founding in 1636 involved a pursuit ofveritas, or truth, not truth as an abstraction, but truth in the person of Jesus Christ. An early motto, Veritas Christo et ecclesiae (Truth for Christ and the Church), had been reduced to the single word Veritas. Truth, it seemed, had become unattached.
Kelly began to encourage Harvard students, alumni, and professors to write down how their life stories lead them to discover veritas in the person of Jesus Christ. Kelly collected these stories for her fellowship group, eventually publishing them as a book: Finding God at Harvard: Spiritual Journeys of Thinking Christians.
As she read these accounts of true life found, Kelly wondered: Why not gather these believers and invite the whole university to re-engage the pursuit of veritas, a truth knowable in and through the life of Jesus Christ? With this vision, the first Veritas Forum welcomed the authors of the book and other Christian thinkers from various academic disciplines and cultures to share their questions, sufferings, journeys, and discoveries with the Harvard community.
The first Veritas Forum, expected to attract only perhaps one hundred people, drew a crowd of seven times that size! Students, faculty, and friends came together for a weekend of open lectures, discussions, films, and workshops, discussing the pursuit of knowledge in the university, exploring its relation to the truth of Jesus Christ, and experiencing Gods' love in the community.
This group of Christians challenged their community to move from the margins of academic culture to the middle and to face the hardest questions of the university, society and the human heart. Campus by campus, the idea of Veritas took root and inspired local communities to do the same. Currently, over one hundred campuses across the United States, Canada, and Europe have responded to the desire to explore true life by creating their own Veritas Forums, involving hundreds of speakers and a quarter of a million student and faculty participants.
If you are interested in becoming part of our ongoing story, find out how to start a forum on your campus or check out the Forum calendar to get involved with a Veritas Forum near you.