Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago Establishes a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice June 6, 2006

On September 21, LSTC will inaugurate a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice. The Center will provide cultural and educational opportunities in which Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths will come together for mutual enrichment, understanding, healing and wholeness. It is the outgrowth of LSTC building relationships with the Muslim community in Chicago for over two decades.

President James Kenneth Echols commented, "The Center allows LSTC to move with strength in this area - both in the classroom and beyond. It will be a resource for the whole people of God."

The Center's first conference, "Christians and Muslims Together: Owning Our Pasts - Visioning the Future" will be held at LSTC and the Chicago Cultural Center September 21 - 23. A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice (CCME) will periodically host guest speakers at LSTC. It will also sponsor conferences and workshops where members of the two faith communities can meet one another in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect to address issues of mutual concern. LSTC and the Center will work with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to create a consultative panel similar to the ELCA's longstanding panel on Jewish-Lutheran relations. As needed, the Center will provide orientation programs for church workers and others who are going to live in primarily Muslim countries.

Harold Vogelaar, LSTC's professor of world religions, has been the impetus for LSTC's strength in Christian-Muslim studies and relations. As Vogelaar moved toward retirement, LSTC wanted to find a way to maintain and to continue to develop its strength in interfaith and Christian-Muslim relations.

Gifts from Gerald A. and Karen A Kolschowsky, a Lutheran couple with a deep interest in interfaith relations, and the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation have provided the means for LSTC to establish a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice. They have also endowed the Harold S. Vogelaar Chair of Christian-Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations.

"This is a critically important issue in ministry today," said Mark Van Scharrel, vice president for advancement. "Even in small Midwestern towns we interact daily with people of various faiths. Those doing ministry need to have a place to gain respect, understanding and appreciation of other faiths. This Center at LSTC has very practical applications."

Our goal is to move beyond just crisis-to-crisis intervention," Vogelaar said. "There is no substitute for sustained face-to-face learning. Knowledge gained ‘from' rather than ‘about' others can often help to ease or even erase those barriers that so often divide us."

Further information about the Gala Inauguration of a Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice and details about the opening conference will be posted at


Jan Boden
Director of Communication and Marketing

The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.

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