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CACS co-hosts Christian-Muslim Conference in Dodoma, Tanzania

6/20/2014
Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Alexandria, Va. - The Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) is joining with Msalato Theological College to host the 2014 Christian-Muslim Conference in Dodoma, Tanzania from June 23 through June 27, 2014. Over 60 Christian and Muslim faith leaders from Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania are gathering under the able facilitation of Chris Ahrends, Diocesan Missioner, Diocese of Saldanha Bay in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa  to explore the conference theme “Understanding Ourselves, our Faiths, our World”. With generous funding from the Luce Foundation, Virginia Theological Seminary hosted the first such gathering back in 2010. Many of the participants from that conference are returning in 2014 and will reconnect with and explore more deeply the peacemaking initiatives and personal commitments they made at the end of that conference. Participants have all identified local faith counterparts to attend with them, ensuring that the discussions, reflections and prayers in Dodoma will travel back to a host of communities across East Africa.

Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya (VTS ‘03) will be welcoming participants and officially opening the conference together with his faith counterpart Chief Sheikh Idi Simba. Their presence at the conference honors and inspires participants and underlines their commitment to reconciliation.

CACS Luce Visiting Scholar Zeyneb Sayilgan will be addressing the conference on what it is that is central to Muslim faith and practice. Our partners at Msalato Theological College have provided key logistical and substantive support in the run-up to the conference and we wish to thank them for their generosity in partnering with CACS for this important gathering. The Acting Principal of Msalato, Dr. Joshua Rutere, will address the conference on the issue of what is central to Christian faith and practice. 

During the conference Claire Haymes, CACS Program Coordinator, will have the opportunity to spend time in prayer and fellowship with the Tanzanian women leaders and students who gathered back in March to participate by live video link-up in the Anglican Women at Prayer conference at VTS.

CACS Director, Dr. Robert Heaney comments, "CACS exists to serve the Anglican Communion by providing space for theological reflection, exists to produce resources that make a difference, and exists to promote and practice reconciliation. It is not always the case that one event meets all of these aims but this conference in Tanzania does exactly that. Community leaders from throughout East Africa will come to reflect, to learn and to develop a vision for their region. They will seek to bring together that reflection in both a joint statement of intent and in action plans for their lives together. All of this serves what we as Christians and Anglicans are called to do, to be reconcilers. In a region where tensions are real and in a world where inter-religious work is not always easy, please pray for this conference that it brings forth fruit for peace."

Virginia Theological Seminary offers a context and an education that is ecumenical, international and cross-cultural. VTS exists to form leaders for the Church, to provide continuing theological education for all and to serve the world Church and Anglican Communion. Integral to the mission of VTS is the Center for Anglican Communion Studies as it seeks to bring community to the Communion. The Center for Anglican Communion Studies does this through resourcing congregational community, academic community and cross-cultural community.

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Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington;  and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.