The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) advances interreligious dialogue and understanding in order to build bridges between people and communities. We work to disarm religious hatred by creating learning communities where people come together to learn from and with one another—at once honoring the legitimacy and distinctiveness of one’s own and others’ traditions.
ICJS is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
ICJS is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
We build learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good.
To make Baltimore
a model interreligious city.
About Our Logo
Description by Ken Karpay, ICJS president (2018-2020)
on the adoption of the new logo in 2018
The three colorful marks in the logo suggest quotation marks, evoking two hallmarks of ICJS—reading and dialogue. For more than 30 years, we have read sacred texts together and invited people into vibrant conversations around religious difference.
Each quotation mark is distinct, acknowledging the differences of the three religions. Yet the three marks do not stand in isolation, nor are they adversarial. Rather the marks appear to approach and engage each other in conversation. The white space between these three marks hints at a natural connection and speaks to the quiet and calm that the ICJS hopes to bring to the world through study, conversation, and friendship.
Since its founding as the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in 1987, ICJS has facilitated interreligious education and dialogue for religious leaders and communities and the general public. In more recent years, ICJS has expanded its reach to bring interreligious learning and dialogue to more spaces, including the public square and classrooms. Today, we offer intensive fellowships and other programming to equip secondary school teachers and community / civic leaders (a.k.a. Justice Leaders) to effectively engage in productive interreligious learning and relationships.
- ICJS starts its one-year, cohort-based teachers' fellowship, working with educators to become leaders in raising interreligious literacy and innovating new pedagogy around religion in secondary schools.
2016Heather Miller Rubens becomes ICJS Executive DirectorICJS names Roman Catholic scholar Heather Miller Rubens as its second executive director.
- Following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015 and the ensuing Baltimore protests, ICJS develops the Imagining Justice in Baltimore initiative and the Justice Leaders Fellowship to provide opportunities for diverse religious perspectives to address civic and social challenges in Baltimore. The Justice Leader Fellows spend a year studying and dialoguing together around a justice topic (different religious conceptions of justice in 2016, policing in 2018, water justice in 2020, etc.) and also facilitate a series of public interreligious community conversations for more than 150 participants.
2013Muslim Scholar joins ICJSIn 2013 the ICJS initiates a number of major transitions. After long consideration, the ICJS board votes to expand the work of the Institute to hire a Muslim scholar and to engage and include local Muslim communities and leaders in Baltimore. In 2016, the ICJS officially changes its name to the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies, while maintaining the ICJS moniker.
2013ICJS Teacher programmingThroughout its history, the ICJS has built and convened a wide variety of events and programs that serve and connect clergy and other official religious leaders from across these religious traditions. In 2013, a group of secondary school teachers approaches the ICJS in hopes of creating greater professional development and training programs for teachers who teach about religion. In collaboration with Baltimore-area teachers, ICJS creates a variety of Educator Workshops to offer resources and cross-institutional opportunities for teachers on topics concerning religion from public schools, independent non-religious schools, and religious schools.
- In 2013, the ICJS also launches a new Emerging Religious Leaders program. In partnership with the Washington Theological Consortium and several rabbinical schools across the United States, the ICJS brings together Christian seminarians and Jewish rabbinical students from across the country for an intensive one-week dialogue course each summer. ICJS scholars, partnering with seminary and rabbinical school faculty, serve as faculty and facilitators for this annual course. Plans are in the works to expand this program to include emerging Muslim religious leaders.
2008ICJS opens the Bunting-Meyerhoff CenterFor the first 20 years of its existence, the ICJS is housed in an auxiliary building of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Bolton Hill, but in 2008, thanks to the generosity of the board and other donors, ICJS opens the Bunting-Meyerhoff Center in Towson, which includes the ICJS offices as well as a large library and study center to host public programming.
- In the late 1990s, ICJS convenes a working group of rabbis and other Jewish leaders, and in 2000 they produce Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity, a watershed document in Jewish-Christian relations. Dabru Emet (Hebrew for “Speak the Truth”) is published in the New York Times and is signed by more than 220 rabbis and other Jewish intellectual leaders.
- In its early years, the Institute is focused on combating anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in various Christian communities, and it facilitates dialogues primarily between Christian and Jewish clergy. Over time this work expands into greater public programs. Most notably, in 1996 producer Bill Moyers launches a PBS series Genesis: A Living Conversation, and he selects the ICJS and Baltimore to develop a pilot project to host interfaith, multiethnic educational events using the Genesis series and viewers guide. Baltimore-area congregations partner with one predominantly white church, one predominantly African American church, and one synagogue, all agreeing to meet together and discuss the Genesis curriculum over several years.
1986ICJS foundingIn May 1986, Baltimore is the site of a national interfaith gathering, called The 9th National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations, hosted by an interfaith coalition of corporate, community and religious leaders. After the event, several of Baltimore’s corporate leaders recognize the important need for Jews and Christians to continue studying and dialoguing together. The group form a new organization, called the Institute for Jewish and Christian Studies in 1987, electing Richard Berndt, Bernard Manekin, and Charles Obrecht as its first co-chairs. In 1987, the board hires Christopher Leighton as the Protestant scholar and the first executive director.