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EXPLORING DIFFERENCES, DEEPENING FAITH

Hartford Seminary draws Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other students from around the world. Explore our website to learn more. International Peacemaking students visiting the United Nations

The Leader in Graduate Interfaith Education

With roots that go back to 1834, Hartford Seminary is a non-denominational graduate school for religious and theological studies. What makes us unique is our multi-faith environment and our proven ability to prepare leaders for the complex world that surrounds us.

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Graduates Urged to Embrace Complexity, Help Heal a Troubled World
More than one speaker had a similar message for 59 students completing their programs at Hartford Seminary: Graduation represents not an ending but a beginning of the hard work ahead to help heal a struggling world. President Joel N. Lohr, presiding over his first graduation, told the graduates, "You've been prepared for a meaningful life through Hartford Seminary." He urged graduates to continue the Seminary's legacy of peace and reconciliation. "Our world needs you," he said. "You are one of the leaders of the future. Go out and make a difference." The graduation address was delivered by Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. She spoke to graduates about embracing the complexity of life and its challenges, as well as embracing differences of opinion. "Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds?" she asked. She asked the graduates to keep two things in mind as they go forward. First, to be mindful of their own need for spiritual nourishment. "Take time to strengthen and renew yourselves," she said. "Often the people working the hardest to charge the world take care of themselves the least." Second, she challenged the graduates to think of themselves as "civic engagement specialists" who can "serve as a voice of moral clarity." "We need your leadership to discover and revive the common good." Following the conferring of degrees, Hartford Seminary writing prizes were presented to three students: Jayleigh Lewis received the Hartranft Scholarship Fund prize. Kyra Jenney received the William Thompson Fund prize. Kelly David received the Bennett Tyler Scholarship Fund prize. The winner of the 14th Annual Celie J. Terry Prize, awarded to a student who demonstrates a commitment to academic achievement and excellence in interfaith community work, was Danang Kurniawan. And the first annual Preaching Award, determined at a preaching competition in April, went to Safwan Shaikh and David Figliuzzi. A link to the gallery of professional photos will be posted on the website and sent to all graduates next week, as well as a video of the entire ceremony. [gallery ids="18647,18646,18645,18644,18643,18642,18641,18640,18657,18658,18659,18661,18662,18664,18665,18666,18667,18668,18670,18671,18672,18674,18675,18676"]
Black Ministries Program Honors Graduates
The Black Ministries Program at Hartford Seminary honored six dedicated graduates, along with their families and friends, on May 16, 2019, at the program's annual banquet. Established in 1982, the Black Ministries Program is a national model for building the leadership, training, and preaching skills of laity and clergy in the urban church. Graduates have completed a challenging two-year program with courses on topics such as preaching, ethics, theology, and church administration. Geraldine Patterson, Class President, welcomed the graduates and their friends and families to the banquet. Nadege Lys, a BMP student, served as Mistress of Ceremony, and Class Chaplain Tenell Rhodes gave the Invocation and Blessing of the Food, as well as a Scripture reading. The Rev. Althea Walker, head of Alumni Communications for BMP, gave greetings and introduced the head table, which included Hartford Seminary President Joel N. Lohr. Following a musical selection by Yvonne Mack and a special reflection by BMP graduate Gymnetta Fludd, those assembled paused for a moment of silence to reflect on youth and school shootings and attacks on houses of worship in our country. Bishop Dr. Benjamin K. Watts, who directs BMP, introduced the main speaker, the Rev. Lisa Clayton, who gave a rousing speech. Closing remarks were delivered by Tre Brown, class Vice President. Bishop Watts gave the Benediction. The 2019 graduates are: Lee (Tre) R.E. Brown, Ruth A. Bush, Gymnetta Fludd, Geraldine Patterson, Tenell Rhodes, and Coronica Richardson. Congratulations to all! [gallery ids="18625,18627,18629,18626,18630,18631,18632,18633,18634,18635,18636,18637"]        
Dr. Hossein Kamaly to Fill Imam Ali Chair for Shi’i Studies
President Joel N. Lohr and Hartford Seminary are pleased to announce that, as of July 1, Dr. Hossein Kamaly will hold the Imam Ali Chair for Shi’i Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools. He will also be Associate Professor of Islamic Studies. The chair, established in 2015, is the first dedicated to Shi’i Studies in North America. Its mission is to provide a voice in the academy for Shi’i Islam, as well as encouraging dialogue among Islamic schools of thought and practice, including Shi’i and Sunni law. Hartford Seminary’s commitment to dialogue includes dialogue within religions as well as between them. “I could not be more pleased that we have attracted a scholar and teacher of such high repute," President Lohr said. "But Dr. Kamaly brings more than excellent scholarship and teaching. He brings deep understanding of and love for interreligious dialogue, as well as a keen interest in helping to bring Islamic schools of thought into discussion with each other in a way that builds bridges of peace in the world. Ours is a world in need of careful, clear thinking, and sensitive discourse. Dr. Kamaly is just the person to lead us and the country in this important work.” Dr. Kamaly has taught in New York City for many years. He was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Barnard College and Columbia University from 2007-2017. He has also taught at the City University of New York, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College. He has a Master’s and Ph.D., both in History, from Columbia University. He is the author of two monographs, God & Man in Tehran (Columbia University Press, 2018) and the forthcoming A History of Islam in 21 Women (Oneworld Publications), as well as many journal articles in both English and Persian. Funding for the chair’s endowment was made possible through numerous generous donors from around the world, including the Universal Muslim Association of America, the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities, MARC (Mulla Asghar Memorial Library & Islamic Recourse Centre), and the Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer Foundation. Establishing the chair was a community effort spearheaded by Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, a renowned scholar who retired from teaching at Hartford Seminary in 2016 but remains an honorary Faculty Associate. Previous holders of the chair include Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakhjanvani and Dr. Seyfeddin Kara. Dr. Ayoub, Raza Abbas, and Dr. Ali Shakibai, representatives of the Imam Ali Foundation, issued a statement about Dr. Kamaly’s appointment. “We are thrilled with the good news of the selection of Professor Hossein Kamaly as holder of the Imam Ali Chair for Shi’i Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Schools of Thought at Hartford Seminary. We sincerely pray and do hope that Professor Kamaly, along with his respected colleagues and students, will contribute to a much higher level of intra- and interreligious understanding in support of truth, justice, and peace for all.” Dr. Kamaly said he is honored and humbled by the trust placed in him. “I look forward to joining esteemed colleagues at the Hartford Seminary, in fostering academic excellence and community service.”
Hartford Courant Publishes Op-Ed by President Lohr
President Joel N. Lohr's op-ed on the Poway synagogue shooting was published in the May 13 edition of the Hartford Courant. In The Poway Synagogue Shooting Raises Important Questions for Christians, President Lohr discusses an aspect of the shooting, which killed one person and injured three others, that has not received a lot of attention -- that the shooter was a church-going Christian. Read the entire piece at this link. He says in closing: "As a Christian, especially a committed one, the Poway synagogue shooting brings out an ugly history for me. It is a real history, one we need to take seriously. It may be too early to draw conclusions about it all, but I can’t help but ask questions — questions as a Christian and as a scholar of Jewish-Christian relations and biblical interpretation. "If nothing else, I humbly call on my fellow Christians, from conservative to evangelical to mainline, to give all of this heartfelt reflection and honest examination. Some of our denominations have done so, for which I am thankful. But have we done enough? Are we being sufficiently proactive as local faith communities?"    
Alum Spotlight: The Rev. Dr. Chris Antal Authors Paper on Moral Injury
The Rev. Dr. Chris J. Antal, D.Min. '17, is the lead author of an article on moral injury published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. The article is Transforming Veteran Identity Through Community Engagement: A Chaplain-Psychologist Collaboration to Address Moral Injury. It looks at "moral injury" as "an essential construct for understanding an important dimension of suffering experience by U.S. combat-deployed veterans." The Rev. Dr. Antal said the paper began with his work at Hartford Seminary. “I developed the moral injury group and the Community Healing Ceremony featured in the paper through my Doctor of Ministry project. My project was based at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia and consisted of the first group and ceremony. The week this paper was published we had our sixth ceremony.” Co-authors include Peter D. Yeomans, Rotunda East, Douglas W. Hickey, Solomon Kalkstein, Kimberly M. Brown, and Dana S. Kaminstein. Congratulations, Chris!  
Hartford Seminary Mourns the Passing of Former Trustee Amy Robinson
From President Joel N. Lohr: We learned yesterday of the tragic and unexpected passing of our former Trustee Amy Robinson. Our hearts go out to her family and friends and all who knew her. Amy was a vital member of this community who never stopped advocating for interfaith dialogue and peacemaking. She is someone who lived out and modeled the values we hold dear at Hartford Seminary. Amy was a Trustee of Hartford Seminary for many years, leaving the board in 2014. She was the chair of the Recruitment and Communications Committee and wrote for both the Development and Communications offices, lending the expertise she had as a writer and marketing consultant. Many in our community will also remember that Amy not only earned a Master of Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary in 1999, and was a graduate of the Women’s Leadership Institute, but that she continued to take courses and stay involved in the life of the Seminary. She was often present at evening lectures and events such as Convocation with her bright smile and unflagging energy. Additionally, Amy was a committed financial supporter of our work, for which we are grateful. May God bring peace and comfort as we mourn our dear friend. Amy's obituary can be found here. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, June 15, at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Bloomfield. A reception will follow at the church from 5-7 p.m. To visit the funeral home page where condolences can be posted, click here.
Boundless: A Celtic Vision of the Sacred in All Things with John Philip Newell
Please join us for this special opportunity to hear from John Philip Newell, internationally acclaimed Celtic teacher from Edinburgh and the celebrated author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, as well as founder of the School of Celtic Consciousness. Celtic Spirituality celebrates the essential sacredness of all things. It remembers John the Beloved as leaning against Jesus at the Last Supper. It was said of him in the Celtic world that he, therefore, heard the heartbeat of God. He became a symbol of the practice of listening, listening deep within ourselves, deep within one another, and deep within the Earth and every creature and life form. We will explore the implications of listening for the Sacred at the heart of each moment. John Philip Newell is one of the most prominent Christian teachers of spirituality in the Western world and has authored over 15 books, including Christ of the Celts, Praying with the Earth, A New Harmony, and his most recent visionary title The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings.  This free event is co-sponsored by First Church of West Hartford and Saint John's Episcopal Church of West Hartford.         Note: Hartford Seminary is committed to providing accessibility for all. Please contact Susan Schoenberger at sschoenberger@hartsem.edu or 860-509-9519 at least 3 days in advance if you have questions about our accessibility or need reasonable accommodations for this event.
Divine Words, Female Voices with Dr. Jerusha T. Rhodes
Our biennial Willem A. Bijlefeld Lecture will be given by Dr. Jerusha T. Rhodes, Associate Professor of Islam & Interreligious Engagement at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Rhodes will discuss her new book – Divine Words, Female Voices: Muslima Explorations in Comparative Feminist Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018) – which argues that interreligious feminist engagement is both a theologically valid endeavor and a vital resource for Muslim women scholars. She will discuss how comparative feminist theology leads to new, constructive Muslima and Islamic feminist positions on topics including revelation, scripture, feminist exemplars, theological anthropology, and ritual practice. The Willem A. Bijlefeld Lecture is named after the first director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. It brings a distinguished scholar to campus for a public presentation on Islam or Christian-Muslim relations to promote interreligious understanding and mutual respect in the local, national and world communities. Note: Hartford Seminary is committed to providing accessibility for all. Please contact Susan Schoenberger at sschoenberger@hartsem.edu or 860-509-9519 at least 3 days in advance if you have questions about our accessibility or need reasonable accommodations for this event. About the Speaker Jerusha T. Rhodes is Associate Professor of Islam & Interreligious Engagement at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Her research focuses on theologies of religious pluralism, comparative theology, and Muslima theology. She also serves at the Director of Union’s Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement (ISJIE) Program. Dr. Rhodes earned a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies with a focus on Religious Pluralism at Georgetown University in 2011. She also received an M.A. in Islamic Sciences at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, and an M.A. in Theological and Religious Studies at Georgetown University. Before joining the Union faculty in July of 2012, she was Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University. Dr. Rhodes’ first book, Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism (Oxford University Press, March 2014), explores the Qur’anic discourse on religious ‘otherness’. In this book, she draws upon feminist theology and semantic methodology to re-interpret the Qur’anic discourse and challenge notions of clear and static religious boundaries by distinguishing between and illuminating the complexity of multiple forms of religious difference. Her second book, Divine Words, Female Voices: Muslima Explorations in Comparative Feminist Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018), uses the approach of comparative feminist theology to engage diverse Muslim and Christian feminist, womanist, and mujerista voices. It argues for the value of comparative feminist theological engagement and proposes constructive Muslima insights relating to Divine revelation; textual hermeneutics of the hadith and Bible; Prophet Muhammad and Mary as feminist exemplars; theological anthropology; and ritual prayer, tradition, and change.  
Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the Language of Scripture
Hear from top scholars on the language of Scripture in this special Hartford Seminary symposium. Faith, Belief, and a Compassionate Response: What it Means to be a Neighbor Father Joseph Cheah University of Saint Joseph The word “compassion” comes from the Hebrew word, rehem, which means a mother’s womb. To be compassionate is to have a deep feeling a woman has for the child that comes forth from her womb. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, it was the good Samaritan who exemplified this sort of compassion by offering liberating assistance to the half-dead man on the side of the road. Using Harvey Cox’s thesis of the primacy of faith over belief, Father Cheah will examine what this good Samaritan, a foreigner and a racialized other, teaches us about what it means to be neighbor and exemplifies for us the value of strangers in our midst. Dr. Deena Grant Exploring Jewish and Christian Translations of Scripture: Practical Applications Is translation interpretation? We will explore together ways that translation can influence meaning by discussing a variety of diverse translations of the identical Scripture passages. The Book of Job, Islamic Thought and the Gospels Dr. Steven Blackburn Retired from Hartford Seminary As a rising tide of Islamization began to engulf both Jews and Christians in Mesopotamia by the mid 8th century C.E., interpreters of Jewish scripture presented their writings in ways that were accessible to Muslims through preferences for vocabulary with an Qur’anic cast.  The translation of Pethion ibn Ayyub of the Book of Job betrays not only affinities to Islamic thought but simultaneously attempts to harmonize Job’s teaching with portions of the Gospels. Does Everyone in Heaven Speak Arabic? Dr. Suheil Laher Adjunct Professor at Hartford Seminary 'When God is angry, He sends revelation in Arabic. When He is pleased, He sends revelation in Persian.' What might have led someone to claim the Prophet Muhammad had said these words? The Qur'an is central to Islamic belief and practice, as God's words. But what exactly is meant by the phrase, “God's words.” Is Arabic “the language of God”? And if so, how much leeway is there for prayer and sermons to be in other languages? Will everyone in Heaven speak Arabic? Dr. Laher will discuss these theological and ritual questions, and how they impacted and were impacted by socio-political factors.
DID YOU KNOW...
Hartford Seminary became the first seminary in America to open its doors to women, in 1889.
In 1902, Hartford Seminary was a founding member of the American Association of Schools of Religious Education.
The first American center for the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations opened at Hartford Seminary in 1973.
In 1990, Hartford Seminary became the first nondenominational theological institution in North America to name a female president.
Naming a Muslim to the core faculty was a first for nondenominational theological institutions in North America in 1991.
Hartford Seminary established the first Islamic Chaplaincy Program in America in 2001.
The first chair of Shi’i Studies in North America launched at Hartford Seminary in 2015.

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