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News from the Hill March 11, 2013 | back to index

Thinking outside the classroom

Faculty and administrators at Andover Newton Theological School are not limiting their teaching—nor their learning—to the classroom setting.

Over the course of the 2012-13 academic year so far, Andover Newton has seen President Nick Carter invited to Vienna, Austria, for the founding ceremonies of the King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, in recognition of the school’s path-breaking accomplishments in interfaith leadership education.

One facet of that interfaith experience is the CIRCLE program, which this year has added its first Muslim CIRCLE fellows to a group that also included Christian, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist students from Andover Newton and Hebrew College. The winter 2013 course "Experiencing Islam" was taught to students from both colleges by Dr. Homayra Ziad, an assistant professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., whose weeklong intensive course made her the first Muslim teacher at Andover Newton.

Professor of Interfaith Studies Dr. Jenny Peace and Dr. Ziad are leading a new American Academy of Religion Group in Inter-Religious and Interfaith Studies, which was presented and approved at the most recent AAR meeting. The group will spend five years exploring the meaning and impact of interfaith work, starting with the 2013 AAR assembly around the theme of "Public Understanding of Religion and Religious Pluralism."

Elsewhere in the American Academy of Religion, Andover Newton’s Dr. Benjamin Valentin, Professor of Theology & Culture and director of the Orlando and Rose Costas Lectureship in Latino/a Theology, was selected to serve in the steering committee of the AAR’s Theology and Religious Reflection Section. The TRRS is one of the major and more renowned sections of the Academy. Valentin also recently delivered a guest Lenten sermon around issues of economic justice at the historic Trinity (Episcopal) Church in New York City, situated between Wall Street and the Freedom Tower project at the former World Trade Center site.

Wall Street is the former workplace of Dr. Nimi Wariboko, Katherine B. Stuart Professor of Christian Ethics, who has been on a lecture tour this semester. He delivered an address titled "Elements of Tradition,  Protest, and New Creation in Monetary Systems: A Political Theology of Market Miracles" on Feb. 10 before the Twelfth Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium at Drew University, and his Bokaye-Yamba Memorial Lecture on Feb. 24 at First Presbyterian Church in Irvington, N.J., discussed the ethical connections between West Africans and African-Americans.

Upcoming appearances by Dr. Wariboko include the Walter Rodney Seminar Lecture on March 25 at the Boston University African Studies Centre, on "The Spell of Invisibility and the Logic of Sovereignty in Nigerian Pentecostalism and the Nigerian State;" and a panel discussion of Harvard Professor Jacob Olupona’s City of 201 Gods:  Ife Ife in Time, Space, and the Imagination, on April 11 at Harvard University’s Centre for the Study of World Religions.

Dr. Mark Heim, Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology, recently traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, and he shared this comment to accompany the photo at the top of this page:

"This is a small group (12 or so) that has been meeting under the direction of the Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation office of the World Council of Churches. The Nairobi meeting was our final one before the WCC world assembly this November in South Korea. The group is preparing a document on Christian self-understanding in relation to world religions, which will be the focus for discussion at the assembly. I was the only person from the U.S.  in the group, which included scholars and church leaders from Indonesia, India,  Ethiopia, Kenya, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, England, New Zealand, and Nigeria."

These Andover Newton professors are continuing a tradition of Christian engagement with the broader world that dates all the way back to 1812, when Andover Theological School graduate Adoniram Judson set sail for Burma as a Baptist missionary. In recent years, churches have also looked at their duty to the world in a more literal sense as well, toward churches’ role in fostering environmental stewardship.

As the UCC has launched its special initiative in ecotheology, Mission 4/1 Earth: 50 great days, Dr. Carole Fontaine, Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History was asked to contribute to their "Sermon Seeds – Year C" resource, which provides reflections on selected texts for every Sunday,  in one volume. Professor Fontaine has written on the scripture for Easter.

Mission 4/1 Earth: 50 Great Days  is the United Church of Christ’s special initiative in ecotheology, which includes written reflections on selected lectionary texts for each Sunday.  Andover Newton’s Dr. Carole Fontaine, Taylor Professor of Biblical Theology and History, has written the Easter reflection for the current lectionary Year C. Easter comes on March 31, 2013, and the Mission 4/1 project will aim to plant 100,000 trees, generate 100,000 advocacy letters to policymakers on environmental issues, and to inspire 1 million volunteer hours for "engaged earth care," all starting on April 1.