African Delegates Praise Claremont’s New Model
Some United Methodists were skeptical when Claremont School of Theology first announced its plans to co-found the multi-faith Claremont Lincoln University with Jewish and Muslim partners.
Here in religiously diverse Southern California, however, the need for Christian ministers and theology students to be able to understand and get along with their neighbors from other religions was crystal clear. So including education to do this was an obvious step for CST, which remains the Christian School in the consortium of schools that make up Claremont Lincoln University.
Claremont recently found it had stalwart allies from the African delegations at the UMC General Conference, who also recognized the vital need for this kind of education.
For example, Rev. “Guy” Mande Muyombo (pictured), Director of Kamina Methodist University in the North Katanga Conference of the D.R. Congo, indicated that the population in the north of DRC was made up of Christians and Muslims, and that it was essential that they learn to live together harmoniously. As in many parts of the U.S., D.R. Congo church members must negotiate a complex cultural situation in which people often intermarry and where Christian ministers must have some understanding of Islam in order to serve their communities well. He indicated that Kamina was, therefore, also providing education aimed at providing understanding of Islam.
Rev. Zaqueu Silva Ranchaze, a delegate from Mozambique, attended the CST Alumni dinner at General Conference, even though he is not an alumnus, to congratulate Claremont on its “adventure” in creating an interreligious university. He told about how the climate can be tense between his own community and the Islamic community that faces it. Their communication requires care, understanding, and appropriate language, he said, and education to help them do this is a blessing. Later, he gave an example of how Mozambique Christians and Muslims have learned to work together to monitor elections and other positive programs. Delegates from other African countries voiced similar support.
Clearly what CST is embarking upon through Claremont Lincoln University is a hopeful and important new model for theological higher education, especially in places where religious tension is common.
Since its African brothers and sisters have expressed the vital need for this kind of education, CST is reaching out to offer assistance and learn from their experiences as well. These activities will be coordinated through CST’s Center for Global Methodism, which will work in partnership with Claremont Lincoln’s Center for Global Peacemaking. Programs developed may be made available for other Annual Conferences and United Methodist ministries as well.
It is time for the world’s religions to learn to work together for the common good. Loving our neighbors, a crucial part of our Christian witness, includes understanding and building relations with them, for the transformation of the world.
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