Faculty in the News – September 2015

Prof. Najib Awad gave a briefing to the Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University on Sept. 28.  He spoke about “Christians in Contemporary Syria: What Does Minority Mean?” The audio of the talk is available here.

Prof. Lucinda Mosher‘s essay, “Getting to Know One Another’s Hearts: The Progress, Method, and Potential of the Building Bridges Seminar” is Chapter 29 in The Character of Christian-Muslim Encounter, a Festschrift in honour of David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam, and Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Inter Religious Relations, at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Prof. Scott Thumma was quoted in an Orlando Sentinel story about the sale of a megachurch property and the trend toward multiple locations for churches. The story says: “In 2000, 23 percent of U.S. churches had more than one location, but a new study by the Hartford Institute shows that 60 percent of churches now have more than one address. ‘They rent a theater or school gymnasium and can go from a couple hundred members to a couple thousand without a lot of investment in physical costs,’ said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.”

Prof. Yehezkel Landau is a signatory on an interfaith statement against religious extremism as a member of the PEACEMAKERS IN ACTION network of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, based in New York City.  In part, the statement reads: “As religiously committed grassroots activists, we encourage and engage in spiritually-motivated peacebuilding and reconciliation where extremist violence and hate reign. We acknowledge our neighbor, actively seeking out those who are different from us to create community among all. We have proven that wars can be stopped and lives improved with our approach. With one voice, as the Peacemakers in Action Network, we call on women and men across the globe to stand with us in solidarity against extremism and violent intolerance of the ‘other’. ” The full statement can be found here.

Prof. Lucinda Mosher will participate in “Three Religious Leaders Speak for Peace” on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 11 p.m. at Church of the Mediator in Micanopy, FL.

Prof. Scott Thumma was quoted in this Chicago Tribune article Minister search firms play matchmakers for pastors, churches about headhunters for ministers. “‘It makes sense,’ Prof. Thumma said. He said pastor search firms are particularly logical approaches for nondenominational churches, which typically lack a hierarchical organization to assign pastors or help with vacancies.”

Prof. Feryal Salem is among those who have signed this ISNA Statement on the Inclusion of Women in Masjids, which was officially launched during the Islamic Society of North America conference over Labor Day weekend. The signatories, which include former Macdonald Center director Dr. Ingrid Mattson, spoke about it at the conference. In part, the statement says:  “We, the undersigned Muslim scholars, leaders, organizations and concerned Muslims, voice our strong commitment to uphold and realize the Prophetic ideal of masjids being open and inclusive of women.  Striving to realize the Prophetic model, we call upon all masjids to ensure that (1) women are welcomed as an integral part of masjids and encouraged to attend, (2) women have a prayer space in the main musalla which is behind the lines of men but not behind a full barrier that disconnects women from the main musalla and prevents them from seeing the imam; and (3) women actively participate in the decision-making process of the masjid, best realized by having women on the governing bodies of masjids.”

Prof. Scott Thumma was quoted in this recent article on “church planting” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  It looks at the phenomenon of new churches being created where other churches are failing. “First the evangelical Protestant wing realized that they were missing large portions of the U.S.,” Prof. Thumma said. “The mainline has finally awakened to the fact that they need to plant churches as well.”

Prof. Donna Schaper has two new books out: Prayers for People Who Think They Can’t and Approaching the End of Life: A Spiritual and Practical Guide.

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