Interfaith Work Gets Boost from Luce

henry luce foundationHebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School have received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the Henry R. Luce Foundation to continue their pioneering work in the area of interfaith learning and leadership and broaden their collaboration to more fully include members of Boston’s growing Muslim community.

“We welcome this investment in the interreligious laboratory our schools have created," said Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton. "The world is desperate for leaders who can be true to their beliefs and yet effectively navigate the challenges of religious difference without suspicion, hate and violence,”

The two schools are partners in the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education, a nationally recognized collaboration to prepare religious and ethical leaders for service in a religiously diverse society. CIRCLE carries this out through joint classes, public programming, leadership-development training and print- and Web-based publications including the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and State of Formation.

“Institutionalizing interfaith work on our two campuses and beyond takes patience, diligence and strategic engagement,” said Jennifer Peace, the center’s co-director at Andover Newton. “With this new funding, we have a wonderful opportunity to continue deepening this process while also adding new dimensions to our work.”

A key priority of the new grant is to extend the current scope of interfaith study on the two campuses through the joint appointment of a Muslim scholar-practitioner.

“This desire to strengthen relations with our Muslim brothers and sisters is not simply an abstract imperative,” said Rabbi Or Rose, the co-director at Hebrew College. “It is an essential responsibility in light of the significant and growing Muslim community in Greater Boston.”

Other new initiatives include a feasibility study for a residential program in interreligious understanding and leadership for young adults considering their career path, and adult-education programs for Jewish, Christian, Unitarian Universalist and Muslim communities who want to gain skills, knowledge and strategies for building relationships across religious lines.

“The expanded support from the Luce foundation will enable CIRCLE to advance the cutting edge of inter-religious leadership education,” said Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, president of Hebrew College.

— June 27, 2013