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Archive for the ‘educating religious leaders’ tag

Faith Inspires: The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development

from Huffington Post

This week’s Faith Inspires highlights the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), a Jerusalem-based organization of inter-religious leaders who promote environmental consciousness and responsibility together. Through their Seminary Students Sustainability Program, Muslim, Christian and Jewish students learn side-by-side about sustainability and co-existence. The organization leads “eco-tourism” trips throughout the Holy Land. And on March 19, ICSD will host the Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference, which will bring together a diverse group of religious leaders to talk about the religious imperative to protect the earth.

Click here to read the full article

New Journal by Students Seeks “Enactment of Deep Pluralism”

by Kile Jones
from State of Formation

A new journal is born!

“Religion” is one of the most difficult words to define.  People use the word all of the time but have a hard time flushing out its precise meaning.  Having spent time on issues surrounding defining “religion,” I felt it would be a good idea to start a new journal where “religion” can be analyzed, interpreted, and compared with other phenomena.  I figured it would be an accessible, academic, online forum for people to publish on issues surrounding “religion.”  Much likeState of FormationClaremont Journal of Religion is meant to facilitate academic dialogue and encourage the enactment of deep pluralism.

Claremont Journal of Religion (CJR) is a student led, peer-reviewed, online journal that focuses on the ways “religion” can be understood in the contemporary world.  CJR is in relationship with the recently established Claremont Lincoln University,Claremont School of TheologyClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremont University Consortium, and The Society for Philosophy and Religion at Claremont (SPARC).  The goal of this journal is to provide a forum for emerging scholars, academics, graduate students, and lay-leaders to publish their latest work in the broad field of “religious studies.”

Click here to read the full article

Collaboration to Launch New Program for Informal Interreligious Education

State of Formation, an international network for young religious leaders, is collaborating with Claremont Lincoln University to develop a pilot program for informal interreligious education. The program’s inaugural events will be a monthly series of coffeehouse-style conversations on interreligious topics, beginning with a Dec. 1 evening event on the Claremont campus (see below for details)

State of Formation is an international program of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, run in partnership with Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School and in collaboration with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. It is a forum for up-and-coming religious and ethical thinkers to draw upon the learning that is occurring in their academic and community work and reflect on the pressing questions of a religiously pluralistic society. A number of Claremont students are regular contributors to State of Formation blogs.

As the founding member of State of Formation’s Education Leadership Circle, Claremont Lincoln University will begin hosting regular coffee hours to foster meaningful conversations, friendships and collegial relationships between students of different traditions. Each gathering will focus on a topic of pressing significance for theological students—from pulpit leadership in a diverse society to overarching theological questions related to identity and news that impacts one or more religious community.

Click here to read more

Are We There Yet? The $100,000 Question in the Interfaith Movement.

by Bud Heckman

How do we know when we have arrived in the interfaith movement?  When religious pluralism is normative?  When religious differences don’t cause conflict or even concern?

Things have been changing rapidly in the expanding field of interfaith relations. Therefore, it may be worth measuring our progress by some milestones of our achievement rather than by an elusive final destination.  I want to suggest six different markers of hope which I see, and I want to invite you to share your own markers of hope and stories of success.

I see great progress in: academic legitimization, institutional development, research expansion, intra-field cooperation, government partnerships, and specialization of work.  A brief example on each milepost:

Academy – When Diana Eck addressed the American Academy of Religion (AAR) as President five years ago, I glumly noted to her that, out of the hundreds and hundreds of workshops at the AAR, only two referenced “interfaith.”  Through the Pluralism Project, Diana built an entire industry out of the study of religious pluralism with dozens of scholars and researchers in her network. Yet the academy was largely stuck in the dry approaches of comparative religion and history of religion. This year’s AAR program, however, is so chock full of practical “interfaith” things that a person could go to just such workshops for the full five days.

At the same time, seminaries are re-inventing their approaches to the religious “other,” following the groundbreaking lead of the folks at Hartford, Auburn, and Claremont Lincoln.

Colleges and universities are similarly signing up wholesale for the array of services of the Interfaith Youth Core to transform their campuses and tomorrow’s leaders.

Institution Building – Interfaith organizations are growing like spring grass.  In 2003, I started research with a team of interns at Religions for Peace USA to count and categorize interfaith organizations.  We took Chris Coble’s earlier research and expanded it to find 17 different kinds and more than 1,000 interfaith organizations in the US.  Eight years later, a new breed of taxonomers is telling me they have more than 25 categories.  With my colleagues at Coexist Foundation USA, we just catalogued nearly 2,000 interfaith entities.

Research – The Coexist Foundation has invested a great deal in research through Gallup on perceptions of Muslims and the global success of interfaith relations.  But our research is just one of dozens of efforts.  The researchers at Hartford Institute for Religion Research have had a decade-long look at interfaith relations and are showing from 2 to 4 fold growth in shared experiences of “worship” and common action across faith lines.  ARDA, Glenmary Research Center, Public Religion Research Institute, and many others are producing equally important data.

Cooperation – In response to the public relations disaster of Park51 last summer, six New York-based interfaith organizations worked together this year under the umbrella of Prepare NY.  This first-ever multi-organizational interfaith effort has resulted in hundreds of dialogues and in a more peaceful, constructive, and meaningful celebration for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  Religions for Peace USA joined with Groundswell, Hebrew College and other institutions to release a statement together about our shared focus after 9/11.

Government PartnershipsReligions for Peace has pioneered fostering government-religious community partnerships, which hold much promise for scaling interfaith relations.  Recently , I had the pleasure of serving on the Interreligious Cooperation Task Force of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and had the pleasure of seeing the new ways in which government is becoming responsive to religious communities. The US Government is just one among many governments who have taken a unique interest in advancing interfaith relations.   Qatar, Norway, Indonesia, Finland, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia are but a few of the countries doing creative new things to foster multifaith cooperation.

Specialization – The waters were much murkier twenty years ago, before the resurgence of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and even ten years ago, before the 9/11-inspired surge of interfaith growth.  Organizations were less clear about their niches, their unique value added.  With today’s clarity and specialization of mission comes better funding, cooperation, and focused impact.

No longer the infant, the interfaith movement is more like the awkward teenager, showing signs of becoming a promising adult, but not there yet.  What is next?  We have room to grow.

Funding is one of the most critical areas that must come along further, if we can say we have succeeded.  My recent research shows an array of new funders starting to test the waters of supporting interfaith relations.  While the continued down global economy and shifts in focus for a handful of the original funders for the movement may give some pause, The Coexist Foundation has been working hard to be one of many in a hopeful countercurrent of support at this critical hour.

The Coexist Foundation is awarding an endowed annual US$100,000 Coexist Prize for an unsung hero/heroine in interfaith relations, and we wish to celebrate the stories of your success that are worthy of being told.  Video stories will be made of the finalists and shared at the announcement of winners next Spring.

We have to continue to progress along the above lines and make advancements in other areas.  For instance, we have to: more effectively engage traditional and new media, articulate standards and measurable outcomes, and help a new, forward-looking generation come into mid-life leadership roles in the movement.

With our common efforts, religious pluralism can become the norm.



Rev. Bud Heckman is the Director of External Relations at the Coexist Foundation and the Executive Director of Religions for Peace USA.  Your comments are welcome:


Launching Claremont Lincoln University

A Watershed Moment in American Theological Education

by Paul Chaffee
Founding Editor of The Interfaith Observer

On September 6, 2011, Claremont School of Theology, a distinguished United Methodist seminary with roots back to 1885, joined in partnership with The Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and the Islamic Center of Southern California/Bayan College. Together, they and a number of other affiliates have joined to create Claremont Lincoln University (CLU), an institution like none other.

Training imams, pastors, and rabbis will be a core goal at CLU. Seminarians will have separate curricula and degree programs for clergy formation, part of a larger set of offerings and degree options focused on the interdisciplinary, intercultural, and multireligious needs of the world in the 21st century.

Others have helped open the door to interreligious collaboration. In the United States, Harvard University, Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley have been pioneers in multireligious higher education. Similar programs are brewing in other seminaries, and the Association of Theological Schools is paying attention. But CLU is the first fully accredited school in America for preparing imams – and having the three primary Abrahamic traditions training clergy in a shared environment is unprecedented.

This point was made over and over again when the $50 million enabling donation from David and Joan Lincoln made the story national news last May. Time Magazine’s headline ran Training Pastors, Rabbis, and Imams Together. USA Today went the same way with Theology school integrates studies of different faiths. In fact, the full story and its ramifications for theological education go much further.

“On behalf of humankind”

CLU’s new provost, Philip Clayton, is clear about the focus of the new University: “Finding the common threads among religious and ethical traditions – while honoring the distinctiveness of each” is the goal. The reach of this vision goes beyond Christian, Jewish, and Muslim interaction. Indeed, on the morning of the launch, a special, widely attended ceremony celebrated a letter of understanding bringing Jains into the new University, thereby including a South Asian religion into what had been an exclusively Abrahamic conclave. American Indian, Buddhist, and Hindu participation is expected.

In addition, CLU is developing collaborative projects with a number of organizations. As its new website states, “Claremont Lincoln University is more than a teaching institution. It’s a call to action on behalf of humankind.” To that end, it already has working relationships with:

  • Doha International Center for Interreligious Dialog (Qatar)
  • Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
  • Pacifica Institute
  • Islamic Society of North America
  • Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace & Justice
  • International Islamic University Malaysia
  • Harbin Institute of Technology (China)

At the September 6 inaugural convocation, the remarkable opportunity this new University represents was detailed most powerfully in the keynote address by the Honorable Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States.

… This is what the Claremont Lincoln University offers: an opportunity to share fragments of truth and pieces of the puzzle, firstly to overcome our own demons represented by the extremism, exclusivity and intolerance we spawned, and the way we have allowed some, in our name, not to follow God, but to appropriate God, and so contribute to the misery of society.

Simultaneously, we must allow the graduates of this institution to revel in the multiplicity of worship, ritual, pageantry and tradition, of the many faiths that must come to the Claremont Lincoln University, but they must also seek to enjoy the wonderment that comes from recognizing the Divine in each other, and acting on this insight in ways which cultivate a better world through compassionate relationships, collaborative efforts, and peaceful acceptance.

Ambassador Rasool noted the poignance of opening a University on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and called for “Providence” to bless this new enterprise and its focus on a more peaceful world.

Call for Contributors: State of Formation

State of FormationState of Formation is a community conversation between young leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students and the like – the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow – will work to redefine the ethical discourse today, particularly as it is used to refract current events and personal experiences. This initiative is supported by a partnership between the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR),Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue (JIRD), Hebrew College, and Andover Newton Theological School.

Over the past year, emerging religious and ethical leaders from around the country have engaged readers around the world by sharing their stories and views on State of Formation. Conversations once dominated by established leaders are now readily embraced by the up-and-comers, and accessible to contributors from many different moral, faith, political, economic, and social

We are thrilled to introduce a new element to the State of Formation program: Regional Associations. These groups strive to showcase the strong work happening within local communities across the country while fostering better relationships between emerging leaders. Currently, State of Formation is working to partner with groups in the following cities to create Regional Associations: Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Francisco. We plan to create additional Regional Associations in Nashville, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Houston within six months. We hope the robust and constructive exchange among our contributors will continue and highlight the progress being made at the local level across the nation.

Contributing Scholars to State of Formation will be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits to participating in the State of Formation Contributing Scholars Fellowship. In addition to being recognized as a Contributing Scholar by JIRD and CPWR, they may be eligible for travel grants and may have their work featured in articles on additional platforms like CPWR’s website, PeaceNext, The Huffington Post, Sojourners, and Tikkun.

Nominees should be currently enrolled in a seminary, rabbinical school, graduate program, or another institution for theological or philosophical formation — or up to three years out of their graduate program in a professional setting. Emerging leaders from both within and outside of the regional groups are encouraged to apply.

Click here for more information

Webinar: Equipping Religious Leaders for Interreligious Work

Alon Goshen-Gottstein

Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein

Register Now Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10:00am U.S. Central Time

Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute and lecturer and director of the Center for the Study of Rabbinic Thought, Beit Morasha College, both in Jerusalem.   He was ordained a rabbi in 1977.  Projects of the Elijah Interfaith Institute include the bi-annual meeting of the board of World Religious Leaders, the Educational Network, as well as the Jewish and the Muslim Theology of the Religious Other.

Title: Equipping Religious Leaders for Interreligious Work
Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees:
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees:
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Claremont expands program to Jewish and Muslim students

Larry Gordon
from Los Angeles Times

Leaders of the Claremont School of Theology will announce Monday the gift of $40 million from an Arizona couple to help expand the Christian divinity institution into a university that will include training for Jewish and Muslim clergy.

The donation from David Lincoln, a Claremont trustee, and his wife, Joan, is the largest ever to the 126-year-old theology school, which enrolls about 240 students in master’s and doctorate programs in religion and counseling. The couple also gave $10 million to the school last year.

Click here to read the full article

Leading Interfaith Organizations Launch “State of Formation” Forum for Emerging Leaders

State of Formation

Current American discourse on religion and ethics is primarily defined by established leaders—ministers, rabbis, academics and journalists. There is an entire population of important stakeholders without a platform: the up-and-comers.

To remedy this, the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Hebrew College, Andover Newton Theological School, and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions have joined forces to create State of Formation, a forum for up-and-coming religious thinkers to draw upon the learning that is occurring in their academic and community work, reflect on the pressing questions of a religiously pluralistic society, and challenge existing religious definitions.

State of Formation is a community conversation between leaders in formation. Together, a cohort of seminarians, rabbinical students, graduate students, activists and the like—the future religious and moral leaders of tomorrow—are working to redefine the ethical discourse today.

Writers for State of Formation will demonstrate candor and respect, and State of Formation’s content will reflect the diversity of budding religious and ethical leadership in America and the particular learning that only occurs in religious and philosophical education. Above all, its contributors will address the pressing ethical issues of our pluralistic world.

The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, the parent publication of State of Formation, is a program of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City.

State of Formation:

Seminarians Present on Parliament Experience

In May, doctoral student and Parliament participant, Kyeongil Jung presented at Union Theological Seminary on his involvement with the “Educating Religious Leaders for a Multi-Religious World” program.

“The 2009 Parliament was an interreligious kairos moment which proved that religion is not a problem, but a promise of hope for a better world. Leaving Melbourne, we promised one another to meet again in 5 years for the Sixth Parliament, then as young pastors, rabbis, imams, monks, nuns and scholars of religions.” Read more here: (insert link to article).

Click here to read the full article (pdf)