VTS Welcomes Interreligious Scholar


Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu

Alexandria, VA - Virginia Theological Seminary and its Center for Anglican Communion Studies are happy to welcome a new visiting Muslim scholar, Ms. Zeyneb Sayilgan, to the VTS campus.  Ms. Sayilgan has begun teaching a new course titled “Exploring Islam: Faith and Practice” and will participate in the Seminary’s academic and community life for three years.  Her presence on campus is supported by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to foster understanding between Muslim and Christian communities.

Ms. Sayilgan was brought up in Germany, moved to the United States to complete an M.A. in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, and is now a Ph.D.  candidate in theology and Chaplain-in-Residence at Georgetown University.  She also holds an M.A. in Islamic Studies and Law from Johannes Gutenberg Universtity in Mainz, Germany.  Known as a gifted scholar and thoughtful teacher, Ms. Sayilgan has taught courses at the Catholic University of America and given many lectures in Christian parishes.

“We want our students to have an ecumenical and interfaith sensitivity,” said the Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary. “One of the best ways to cultivate this sensitivity is through the encounter of able representatives of other Christian traditions and other religious traditions.”

In 2008-2009, a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation helped the Seminary build relationships with colleagues undertaking interreligious work in the Washington, DC area and around the world.  The Foundation awarded a second grant to the Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies in December 2011 to provide continued support for fostering understanding between Muslim and Christian communities.   In addition to supporting the current Luce Visiting Scholar, the grant will fund interreligious work with Episcopal congregations, an international conference, and the development of web-based resources.  

Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Currently, the Seminary represents more than 42 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.