Vernon Jantzi has been named to coordinate a feasibility process toward the potential establishment of a Center for the Study of Abrahamic Traditions (CSAT) at EMU.
The appointment was announced by EMU President Loren Swartzendruber.
Dr. Jantzi, professor emeritus of sociology, taught at EMU more than 30 years, most recently at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), a graduate program he helped to establish. He has extensive experience in international development and peacebuilding work.
In his new position, Jantzi will lead a study to determine the feasibility, shape and scope of the projected Center. The process will build on two years of work by an ad-hoc advisory group made up of representatives from EMU administration, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, CJP, Bible and religion and history departments.
Jantzi will coordinate consultations with EMU faculty/staff and external stakeholders such as Mennonite mission and relief agencies, denominational leaders and similar centers around the world.
“EMU envisions that such a Center would help to shape the university’s thought and action in a post-Cold War, post-9/11 world in which religion and politics may either serve our quest for reconciliation or detract from it,” Dr. Swartzendruber said.
“The Center would provide a setting where practitioners and scholars belonging to the three Abrahamic faith traditions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – could collaborate in research, training, learning and relations that further peace, just development, security, and wholeness in North America and in the rest of the world.”
“I believe that Anabaptists bring a precious gift to the table in the meeting of Christians, Muslims and Jews,” said David W. Shenk, global consultant with Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, Pa. “My hope is that the Abrahamic Studies Center EMU is considering can nurture that gift and equip many for faithfully learning and sharing around that table.”
Funding for the feasibility process and ultimately for a Center will come from sources external to the university.