Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, celebrated the launch of the ‘Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam’ this month, after years of dreaming, praying, and planning. The centre will be an essential resource for the Church as it responds to the changing global landscape, encountering Islam in new ways and in many forms.
The Centre’s work will be on several levels. At the grassroots, it will engage people and churches, raising awareness of the need for Christians to seek out encounters with Muslims in their own communities. It will develop specialist classes and programmes to more firmly and deeply root Christians in the tenets of their biblical faith while at the same time preparing them for participating in informed, respectful dialogue with Muslims.
The Centre will conduct research, too, helping to endow the global church with specialists. The resources for the Centre have been made possible by generous donors, and include scholarship support for student bursaries.
As part of this initiative, NTC is offering a new postgraduate degree (full or part-time), Christian Engagement with Islam, from September 2014. This will be an essential resource for anyone working at the nexus of Christianity and Islam.
It is deliberately designed to work at Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma, and Master of Arts (MA) levels. Some practitioners will not want or need the full MA, but could take a Postgraduate Certificate as “continuing professional development,” according to Dr. Peter Rae, academic dean. The MA will be available for distance learning, but with a residential component.
“The development of the postgraduate program – Christian Engagement with Islam – came out of a recognition that there were few opportunities to think rigorously about how the Church engages with Islam, and that such a programme was urgently needed,” Rae said.
The programme is modelled on other successful MA programmes developed by NTC Manchester, in partnership with The University of Manchester.
The directors of the Centre are Revd Dr Dwight Swanson and Revd Canon Phil Rawlings. Swanson has served NTC for well over a decade as an Old Testament and Ancient Near East specialist. His role as director builds on his long-term research in the Abrahamic faiths and on his own experience of Nazarene ministry in Asia and in a multi-faith area of Manchester. Rawlings is completing doctoral studies in the area of Christian engagement with Islam. He is a passionate advocate of Christians engaging Muslims with confidence and respect.
“As we have begun this project we have been encouraged by the welcome from both church leaders and members who express their appreciation for the resources that this centre will be able to make available to the Church,” said Swanson.
For more information on the Centre, or to submit questions, visit http://www.nazarene.ac.uk/home/resources/centre-for-christianity-islam.php.
To learn more about the postgraduate courses, visit http://www.nazarene.ac.uk/home/courses/postgraduate/ma-in-theology.php