Religions and Spirituality

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Interfaith Dialogue for the Next Generation of Peacebuilders

Participants in the Drew Summer Institute on Religion & Conflict are studying on Drew's campus this June. Credits: Cara Townsend

MADISON, NJProminent global religious leaders of the  Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths will engage in an interfaith discussion through Drew University’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict Sunday, June 23 during the first-ever Drew Summer Institute on Religion and Conflict.

This June, the Institute is training 25 Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy and lay leaders-- both male and female—from Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan and Nigeria in the latest techniques in religious-based conflict resolution.

“Through the intensive training they receive, these emerging leaders will be better equipped both to challenge radical religious leaders and manifest a positive alternative influence on their congregations, constituencies, and communities with regard to building positive relationships with other communities,” said Director of the CRCC and Professor of Comparative Religion, Chris Taylor.

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On Sunday, June 23, a group of established religious leaders will share their insights and experiences with the Institute participants and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation of peacemakers. The panel and reception will take plan from 5:00- 6:30 p.m. in Crawford Hall in the Ehinger Center on Drew's campus.

Panelists include Rabbi Michael Melchoir, Chief Rabbi of Norway and a former member of Knesset; Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye from Nigeria; Dr. Abdul Mu'ti from Indonesia; Azhar Hussein, who works with the most conservative madrasas in Pakistan; and Rabbi Marc Gopin, Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.

Some of the Institute participants include: Nerlian Gogali, founder of Institute Mosintuwu, a women’s grassroots peace movement in Indonesia; Samson Auta, Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) Coordinator for the Northwest region of Nigeria; Yael Gidanyan, board chair of the Interfaith Encounter Association in Israel; and Muhammad Raghib Hussain, principal of  the Jamia Naeemia, the largest moderate madrassa in Lahore, Pakistan, whose father was assassinated for opposing the Taliban.

The Drew CRCC continues to work closely with local partners in each of these countries to identify participants and plan the structure and content of the Institute. The Drew Summer Institutes will run for three years thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. By the end of the pilot phase of these institutes, Drew University aims to have 18 trained emerging leaders from each country and establish a vibrant global network of young religious peacemakers.

Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict focuses critical scholarly attention on the complex ways in which cultures and religions interact, especially in moments of crisis and conflict. The CRCC seeks to encourage and facilitate scholarly understanding of and conversation about the most problematic, and often tragic, intersections where religions and cultures meet.

The CRCC supports a number of projects and initiatives, including: hosting distinguished visiting scholars; sponsoring lectures, symposia, and roundtable discussions to promote scholarship and it supports promising model projects to enhance inter-religious and cross-cultural understanding.


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