Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Monday, I met with Hakan Gülerce.  Hakan is from Turkey; he is the second Muslim to study here at the Seminary.  He comes from the Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture, where he serves as the coordinator of many of the Foundation's activities.  He is in the process of completing a PhD in the Sociology of Religion at Istanbul University.  His wife is Nagihan and he has a five year old son called Ahmet.

Hakan is studying at Virginia Theological Seminary because he wants to both learn about and experience Christianity.  He senses this is a Christian community that is serious about our faith both in terms of beliefs and practices. And so we are.  We welcome Hakan to a community that is deeply committed to the disclosure of God in Christ.  He attends faithfully Morning Prayer observing that he "use to pray five times a day and now it is six".

A small piece of religious diversity is now with us on the campus.  This is good.  It is a learning opportunity.  So, for example, in the United States it is an insult not to offer to shake the hand of the guest, while for many Muslims to have physical contact with a person of the opposite gender who is not family is considered inappropriate.  And so we will learn to welcome Hakan into the community and the men can hug and the women will simply nod.  And in this small way, we honor the differences that make up this remarkable world that God has made.

The Very Rev Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President