Prominent Christian leaders and scholars from across North America gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, from January 27-29, 2017, for the third Christian Leadership Initiative (CLI) Alumni Study Symposium. The Symposium’s theme is “Judaism and Israel in American Christian Discourse.”
CLI Alum Molly T. Marshall writes about the program for Baptist News:
Over the weekend, I met with religious leaders associated with the American Jewish Committee and the Shalom Hartman Institute, a leading educational resource for Jews in both Israel and North America. Christians and Muslims profit greatly from the scholarship and conversations convened by these two bodies.
For nearly five years I have participated in the Christian Leadership Initiative, which fosters greater understanding between Christians and Jews. Together we study texts, share perspectives on the relationship of U.S. Christians and Jews to the state of Israel, and practice respect for the lived religion of others. We gather with the awareness the peace among religions is essential to peace among nation-states, as Hans Küng has long observed.
Amidst the current political turmoil, our conversations took on an added resolve. We spoke about colliding interests of varied groups and pondered how to build coalitions, recognizing that these will always be uneasy alliances, but necessary means of social transformation. The privileged place held by Jews in the United States far outstrips that held by Muslims, and we seek to address this disparity, especially in this season of demonizing Islam.
Now in its 10th year and co-sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute and AJC, CLI introduces prominent Christian leaders from North America to the central ideas of Jewish ethics and faith, the diverse ideologies and practices of contemporary Jewry, the meaning of Israel for world Jewry, foundations of religious pluralism, and interreligious study. The intensive, 13-month CLI educational program begins and ends with 10-day seminars at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. During the initial fellowship year, the scholars participate in distance learning to continue their studies of Judaism and modern Israel, while working in their home communities.
The Alumni Symposium will explore the role of recent church statements and Gospel texts on Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, as well as current debates within the Jewish community and between Jews and Christians. It aims to better equip CLI alumni to engage more deeply with Jewish communities in Israel and North America, and to enrich the dialogues around Israeli-Palestinian issues in which CLI alumni engage.
Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, said CLI has gathered a unique core group of 80 Christian scholars and introduced them to classical Jewish text study in the context of modern Israel.
“The Alumni Study Symposium is another step toward realizing our vision of a multi-cohort CLI community that will have an indelible positive impact on Christian-Jewish relations in the United States,” he said.
Dr. Marcie Lenk, Shalom Hartman Institute Director of Christian Leadership Programs, said there is now trust among the participants, because of all that they have experienced together and learned from one another.
“We can all sympathize with the challenges and struggles within our communities about controversial issues, and that understanding allows us to move forward together,” she said.
The CLI Alumni Study Symposium is generously supported by the Allen H. & Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust.
The following CLI alumni are attending:
Rev. Dr. Radu Bordeianu, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
Dr. James Buchanan, Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell, Highland Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY
Rev. Dr. Lawrence E. Carter, Sr., Morehouse College, Atlanta
Rev. Dr. Robert Cathey, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago
Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology, Dallas
Dr. Lynn H. Cohick, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Rev. Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta
Rev. Dr. Lincoln Galloway, Claremont School of Theology, CA
Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Dr. Sally Holt, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Dr. Robert Hunt, Center for Evangelism and Missional Church Studies, Perkins School of Theology, Dallas
Rev. Jessica MacMillan, Presbytery of the Western Reserve, Cleveland
Rev. Jacquelina Marquez, Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, KS
Rev. Dr. Esther Menn, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Rev. Mario E. Milian, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Coral Gables, FL
Rev. Dr. Doug Mills, First United Methodist Church, Albuquerque, NM
Rev. Dr. Martha Moore-Keish, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA
Rev. Dr. Rob Nash, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta
Rev. Dr. Jason Poling, St. Hilda’s Episcopal Church, Catonsville, MD
Dr. Elena Procario-Foley, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY
Dr. Brian Rainey, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ
Dr. Amy J. Uelmen, Georgetown University Law School, Washington, DC
AJC (American Jewish Committee) is the global Jewish advocacy organization, with headquarters in New York, 22 regional offices across the United States, and 10 offices around the world, including one in Jerusalem. Founded in 1906, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more information about AJC, go to ajc.org, or contact Kenneth Bandler, AJC Director of Media Relations.