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For Religious Leaders in Training

A Groundbreaking Experience for Muslim & Christian Emerging Religious Leaders

Over five days of mutual learning, challenging discussion, and blossoming friendships, a group of more than two dozen emerging Muslim and Christian religious leaders engaged in an innovative intensive course in interreligious dialogue on June 1-5, 2022.

The Emerging Religious Leaders (ERL) course, held on the campus of Virginia Theological Seminary, is a groundbreaking program for Muslim and Christian students in the U.S. Sponsored by the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS), it was co-directed by two ICJS faculty, Protestant Scholar Matthew D. Taylor and Muslim Scholar Zeyneb Sayilgan.

ICJS partnered with the Washington Theological Consortium and five Muslim-training institutions to create the five-day course, an expansion of a similar program for Christian and Jewish students offered since 2012.

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ICJS is an Associate Member of The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS), but not an Accredited Member with the ATS Commission on Accrediting.

Emerging Religious Leaders provides a safe environment for learning and highlighting the values of inter-religious dialogue. It is a great opportunity for religious leaders to meet and have practical and authentic conversation and ask challenging questions.

Ghada Ghazal

Catholic University of America, ERL 2022 Participant


I appreciate the faculty’s intentionality to gather us all. I had no idea that it would be us coming together in one place from all over the nation with different backgrounds. There are so many differences among us, but so many similarities that we share.

Chris Bonner

Howard University, ERL 2022 Participant


I love the fact that even though we were in the same class listening to the same discussions, we both walked away with totally different opinions and perceptions. We could both, then, reflect on the community we both come from and see how we could take all of that back to our community.

Sofia Shareef

Madina Institute, ERL 2022 Participant


There are a lot of similarities between how we live out our faiths. Emerging Religious Leaders has shown me that the God in me is the God in everyone else, and it’s exciting to see.

Jan Phillips

Wesley Theological Seminary, ERL 2022 Participant


Emerging Religious Leaders has been a very positive and eye-opening experience. I witnessed and participated in some intense conversations and growth. It is a wonderful opportunity to begin some very important and sorely needed conversations. I see the ERL as a starting point for more interreligious work and progress in the future.

Eamaan Rabbat

Rabata, ERL 2022 Participant


This program was transformative. I feel we all walked away knowing that our common love for God and humanity through our faith is what is most important and how that can lay the groundwork for mutual witness in the world.

Kimberly Nelson

Howard University, ERL 2022 Participant


Jewish-Christian Emerging Religious Leaders Course

From 2013 through 2019, ICJS hosted the Emerging Religious Leaders Course for Jewish and Christian students. This course will be held again in June 2023 for students in participating institutions.