Today is a very exciting day for all those with connections to Claremont School of Theology!  The visionary President Jerry Campbell has succeeded in putting together the first inter-religious University on our planet.  With a very generous gift from Joan and David Lincoln, beginning next fall Rabbis, Clergy, and Imams will all be training for ministry on the same campus.  The Lincoln family are Methodist lay leaders from Paradise Valley UMC who are dedicated to working for a cooperative and compassionate future for the world’s religions. (I bet their church is very proud!)

“Joan and I are particularly pleased with the idea of creating a multireligious university that reflects the power and potential of the ‘Golden Rule,’ which the many religious communities have in common,” said David Lincoln. “We believe the outcome of this kind of education will be tolerance and respect among religions. It will better equip our future leaders to address global problems where religious cooperation is needed to reach solutions and repair the world.”

The new University’s name will carry the name of this remarkable family – Claremont Lincoln University (the new homepage!).

I am most excited because of the way the new University will be handling the inter-religious partnerships.  President Campbell said, “It’s important for us that the participating partners maintain their own brands. We are not blending or merging. We are only looking for understanding, respect and the possibility of collaboration.”  This to me is different than other inter-religious, multi-religious, or trans-religious visions.  Insisting on preserving, cherishing, and celebrating the distinctiveness of the different faith traditions will permit the diversity of each tradition to participate and not limit the students and the congregations they serve only to those already theologically open.   The goal, as I understand it, is not a common denominator version of religious pluralism but a diverse collective of committed practitioners from multiple religions and multiple perspectives learning to listen to each other, learn from each other, and work with each other to address the major ethical crises facing our shared humanity.

I am excited this dream is taking root today in Claremont.  So to Jerry for his vision and leadership throughout, the Lincoln family for their enormous support, and all those who have worked long hours getting to this point – THANK YOU!