Hartford Seminary?s commitment to religious peacemaking has received a major boost through a $60,000 donation by a local alumna and her spouse.
Lynn Fulkerson, who has a Master of Arts from the Seminary and is a founder of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, and John Fulkerson, a knee and shoulder surgeon with Orthopedic Associates of Hartford and past president of the Litchfield Land Trust, said that they want to invest their resources wisely and could think of no better way than to support Hartford Seminary?s commitment to preparing peacemakers.
?The Seminary plays such an important role internationally in religious peacemaking,? the Fulkersons said.
The funds will be used in the Seminary?s innovative International Peacemaking Program and to support an endowed faculty chair in Abrahamic Partnerships.
The donation will pay for two students in the International Peacemaking Program. In this program, religious and lay leaders from countries in which there is interreligious conflict between Christians and Muslims spend a year at the Seminary, training in interfaith leadership.
The gift also will provide funds toward the endowment of a chair that will secure a professorship in Abrahamic Partnerships at Hartford Seminary, whose primary focus will be on the theory and practice of Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations.
Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary, said, ?I am profoundly appreciative of the generosity of Lynn and John and their commitment to interfaith education. We live in troubling times, and it is so important that Hartford Seminary continue its work in interreligious dialogue and understanding. This gift will help make this possible.?
The Fulkersons said, ?Hartford Seminary offers a hopeful vision of the possibilities for peace. It brings together people of diverse religious perspectives and experiences in a unique environment of mutual respect and acceptance.?
Hartford Seminary began the International Peacemaking Program (IPP) in 2004.
Christian and Muslim leaders from countries in which there is Christian-Muslim conflict come for a year of interfaith leadership training and experience, including immersion in an American congregation. There, the students encounter the dynamics of a local church, and broaden that congregation?s understanding of discipleship in other, more conflicted, cultures.
After a year of study, interfaith encounter, and experiences in local congregations and the broader American culture, IPP students return to their home countries with skills to promote productive interfaith dialogue, better prepared to be peacemakers.
The fourteen IPP students to date have come from Nigeria, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Bulgaria, among other countries.
For fall 2011, the IPP students are Haidar Reda from Iraq, Abdullah Khan from Pakistan, and Hans Abdiel Harmakaputra from Indonesia.
In addition to this recent gift, funding for IPP has come from The David E. A. Carson and Sara F. Carson Fund, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and a dozen local churches and mosques.
It costs approximately $22,000 to fully fund an IPP student.
The Abrahamic Partnerships chair builds on the Seminary?s Building Abrahamic Partnerships (BAP) program. This program trains religious leaders by a) promoting deeper understanding of the beliefs and practices of the three faith traditions, b) providing an innovative educational opportunity that prepares clergy and lay leaders to address issues of religious diversity, c) demonstrating how seminarians, clergy and religious educators can forge mutually beneficial relationships across communal boundaries, and d) helping participants develop skills necessary for interfaith ministry.
The Seminary designed this program to be a resource for Jews, Christians, and Muslims who seek a solid foundation in interfaith ministry. It is an eight-day intensive immersion in interfaith dialogue and understanding.
The creation of an endowment to continue the Abrahamic Partnerships initiative affirms the Seminary?s commitment to making interreligious encounter a central part of each student?s experience.
Lynn Fulkerson has been involved with the Seminary not only as a student but also as a trustee and officer of the Alumni/ae Council. She began her ministry of caring for the environment while working on her M.A. at the Seminary.
She is a leading activist in her home town of Litchfield. Lynn is co-founder of the Litchfield Energy Task Force whose mission is to reduce energy consumption and increase the use of clean renewable energy for the town, its residences and businesses. For ten years she served as Chair of the Episcopal Diocesan Committee on the Environment. She continues as co-chair of the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, which is starting its second decade.
Besides his work as a physician with Orthopedic Associates of Hartford, John Fulkerson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut. He is founder of the Patellofemoral Foundation and was Medical Director of the Hartford Whalers and the Wolf Pack Hockey Club. He has served as president of the Herodicus Society, an academic sports medicine society.
John is a committed land preservationist, serving until last year as President of the Litchfield Land Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving quality land in northwest Connecticut.
With the need greater than ever to prepare peacemakers and promote interreligious understanding, the Seminary welcomes contributions to the International Peacemaking Program and the Abrahamic Partnerships chair. Those interested should contact The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee, Chief Development Officer, at email@example.com or (860) 509-9556.