Faith & Culture Center is developing two new programs for 2017.
The Abdelkader Model: FCC Ambassador and Scholarship Program
In the spirit of Emir Abdelkader, a 19th century commander who was hailed as a great humanitarian and as a bridge between the Muslim and Western worlds, Faith & Culture Center | Our Muslim Neighbor, in partnership with the William and Mary Greve Foundation, is developing a 5-week ambassador and scholarship program for millennials in Nashville, TN and surrounding areas. Emir Abdelkader is remembered as a humanitarian leader, a man of deep faith, and one whose religious principles led to extraordinary acts of benevolence toward those who were considered his “enemy.” Though he had significant military and diplomatic successes, he is eulogized for the way that his piety directed his moral compass, and hence, his actions towards his enemies. His magnanimity earned him the esteem and respect of figures like President Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria, and Pope Leo IX.
By studying the life of Emir Abdelkader, and other historical and contemporary figures whose conduct with the “other” is morally exemplary, this program will provide a forum for millennials to gain invaluable tools for responding to the increasing diversity of our communities. The format will be seminar style, with the group meeting once a week to discuss relevant reading, current events, and to conduct trips to places that hold significant value for recognizing the inherent dignity of others. This program offers the unique opportunity to convene a group of millennials who are interested in meaningful dialogue, but who have not found the appropriate spaces for doing this in a constructive and effective way. These types of spaces, in our communities today, must be created with the intention of building a space that can lead not just to the airing of grievances, and the descriptions of similarities and differences, but also to forming tools that help individuals and communities empathize with others who are not like them. Through focused study, meaningful discussion, and relevant experiences, the program participants will have transformative experiences that they can carry back to their respective communities as “ambassadors” who can describe and model learned and intentional dialogue with others. It will help equip those who want to learn more about building meaningful dialogue through relationships with others in their community. They will also be eligible for scholarship money, that will be awarded based on performance on a final project that all program participants will be asked to complete.
Religious and Community Leaders’ Retreat
The Faith and Culture Center is building a program to convene evangelical Christian pastors with Muslim community and religious leaders. It was initiated in response to a need expressed by a local pastor (Nashville) and his professional network. These pastors have indicated a concern regarding negative attitudes and perceptions of Islam and Muslims among sections of their congregations. As leaders in their respective communities, they are seeking a better understanding of Muslims to help navigate their congregations in regard to their dispositions toward Islam and related issues.
The FCC will develop and execute a one and half day workshop to form a network of support for these pastors by encouraging relationship building between attendees in a trust-based environment. Through a series of lectures, facilitated exercises, and small group discussions, the attendees will acquire two foundational skills. First: a reorientation of paradigms regarding the “other,” and specifically, Islam and Muslims. Second: improvement in basic understanding of the Islamic tradition and the rich and diverse American Muslim community. It is our hope that the attendees, as leaders of influence in their individual communities, will use these skills to help navigate their congregations in internal discussions and external interactions with Muslims in ways that will extend the community impact to their respective communities.