Theological Education in an Urban Context
- On May 12, 2015
- North America, Theological Education, Urban
By Marsha Snulligan-Haney
This essay argues that not only is interfaith engagement an invaluable form of Christian mission wherever Christian and other faith communities live together and share common social and geographical space, but it is also perhaps one of the most valued forms of Christian mission operable within dynamic multireligious urban contexts in North America.
What follows is an overview of the Interdenominational Theological Center’s (ITC) work to equip theological students for ministry in the dynamically religious contexts of urban USA. ITC’s unique approach toward interfaith competence supports and offers current and future Christian leaders opportunities for engaging three religions—African, Jewish, and Islamic— and their faith systems based on a more relational model of interfaith engagement.
Located approximately five minutes from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in southwest Atlanta, Georgia, is the West End, a multiethnic, multicultural, and multireligious community that often serves as a dynamic living classroom without walls for courses in missiology, evangelism, and religions of the world. It is often acknowledged that the defining characteristic of West End is its wide array of religious institutions, from the historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church to an old-fashioned spiritual reader to the Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center and Bookstore of the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church. For at least 15 years, the West End community has played a significant role in providing ITC students with a dynamic learning context to discover and practice what it means to be a Christian leader with interfaith competence in a religiously dynamic community. Students engage the following religious faith communities: