by ICJS Newsroom

BALTIMORE—The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS), in partnership with the Washington Theological Consortium, is hosting a one-week intensive course in Muslim-Christian dialogue for emerging Muslim religious leaders from around the United States and Christian seminarians from the Mid-Atlantic. 

The Emerging Religious Leaders course, to be held from June 1-5 on the campus of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., is an expansion of a successful program ICJS and the Consortium have offered since 2012 for Christian seminarians and Jewish rabbinical students, and the first of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

The course will focus on providing the Muslim and Christian students with the opportunity and the tools they need to engage in fruitful interreligious dialogue.

“I think it’s safe to say that most Christian seminarians go through their years of training without having the opportunity to interact intellectually with Islam or meaningfully encountering their Muslim peers,” said Zeyneb Sayilgan, Ph.D., ICJS Muslim Scholar and a co-leader of the ERL  program. “Similarly, while there are a growing number of training programs and higher educational institutions emerging to train the next generation of imams and chaplains, these future Muslim leaders have few opportunities to learn alongside and with Christians during their formation.”

Matthew D. Taylor, Ph.D., ICJS Protestant  Scholar and a co-leader of the ERL program, noted that many programs facilitating Jewish-Christian dialogue have been developed over the past few decades. But there are fewer opportunities for Muslim-Christian dialogue. “The infrastructure for Muslim-Christian engagement and exchange in the U.S.  is still being built. This course aims to help construct a crucial piece of that  needed infrastructure: networking and dialogue skills for religious leaders in training,” he said. 

Through this interreligious experience, participants will gain knowledge about another religious tradition, learn skills in engaging in interreligious dialogue and inquiry, and develop a relational network through which they can continue to pursue dialogue and interfaith learning. The course will include lecture and discussion, observing each others’ worship services, and field visits to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center mosque in Sterling, Va., and the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. In addition, America’s Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, D.C. will have its travel exhibit on site and museum director Amir Muhammad will engage students in a learning session on the early presence of Muslims in America.

The Muslim students come from seminaries across the country:  Boston Islamic Seminary; Madina Institute, Atlanta; Mishkah University, Houston.; Rabata, Twin Cities area, Minn.; and Tayseer Seminary, Knoxville, Tenn.

Christian seminarians participating in the program attend Virginia Theological Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, United Lutheran Seminary, Howard University School of Divinity, and Catholic University of America. 


John Rivera, Communications & Marketing Director
Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS)
O (410) 494-7161 ext 202; C (443) 604-2918



The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) works to dismantle religious bias and bigotry to foster an interreligious society in which dialogue replaces division, friendship overcomes fear, and education eradicates ignorance. Through courses, fellowships, online events, and scholarship initiatives, ICJS builds learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good. ICJS is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization. More information is at 

The Washington Theological Consortium is a community of theological schools of diverse Christian traditions—with partners in education, spirituality and interfaith dialogue—that supports ecumenical unity and interfaith understanding. Learn more at