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interfaith seminaries

Pacific School of Religion’s Unlikely Adventure

Pacific School of Religion’s Unlikely Adventure

by Paul Chaffee

Nowhere is the diminishing influence of liberal Protestantism in the US more dramatic than in the decline of its seminaries. Mounting debt, smaller student bodies, and ever-increasing costs have left dozens of institutions struggling to survive.

The Chaplaincy Institute: Pioneering Interfaith Ministry

The Chaplaincy Institute: Pioneering Interfaith Ministry

by John R. Mabry

Andrea paused at the doorway to the hospital room to gather her thoughts. Her last patient had been a Sunni Muslim grandmother who was scared of what her tests might say. This next patient is an atheist who may or may not want to talk to her. After that, she has a Jewish person, and a Seventh Day Adventist. While that kind of rapid-paced paradigm-shifting might cause vertigo in some chaplains, it’s all par for the course for Andrea and others...

The Expanding Interreligious Horizon at Hartford Seminary

For interfaith devotees it is heartening to see venerable academic institutions take a lead in studying interreligion. Andover Newton Theological School and Hebrew College’s collaborative leadership training program stands out. Equally impressive work is going on at Auburn Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Hartford Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Naropa University, and University of the West, among others.

Learning About Interfaith Every Which Way

As with so much mainstream media, stories about religious education usually shine a bright light on particular problems – science versus creationism in the classroom, lawsuits over textbooks, prayer in public schools, renting space to religious groups, upset atheists – so many problems, so many conflicts.

Seminaries Buzzing with Interfaith Studies

Most of the several hundred seminary campuses crisscrossing Canada and the United States were developed by individual religious traditions. They wanted to ensure a steady, dependable source of new leaders for their denomination’s congregations. Over the decades most of these seminaries developed similar curricula – ancient languages, scripture, history, theology, ethics, pastoral care, and the liturgy, policies, and history of each school’s particular tradition. This shared curriculum, though, did little to connect the different traditions to each other. In most of these schools, memory, vision, values, and institutional structures all come through the lens of a particular tradition.

“Interfaith Seminaries” Chart New Territory

Historians generally associate the birth of world’s interfaith movement with the seminal Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893. At that gathering, the brilliant and charismatic Swami Vivekananda introduced the “consciousness” teachings of Vedanta to the West. After this remarkable seeding, the next Parliament of Religions would not gather for another hundred years.

Creating the Order of Universal Interfaith

Since its inception, leaders in the interfaith movement have asserted that interfaith is about bridge-building, not creating a new tradition; and that we treasure our differences as well as the values we share. Not everyone agrees though, and there have always been minority opinions.