The Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies (ICJS) is a non-profit organization that concentrates its educational expertise on the dual tasks of disarming religious hatred and establishing new models of interfaith understanding.
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Reclaiming the Center
Reclaiming the Center is an adult educational initiative that reveals and explores not only what we share, but what is distinctive or particular about our religious traditions.
Through text study, lecture, and small group discussion, RTC participants learn to understand and celebrate those distinctions. Reclaiming the Center reframes the conversation and challenges us to engage with the wisdom of our religious traditions in light of contemporary life.
A healthy democracy is invigorated by divergent points of view. Yet the center cannot hold if citizens become so polarized and fragmented that they cannot engage one another in searching and sustained debate. Without understanding the ways religion is used and abused at home and abroad, we are all susceptible to prejudice and manipulation. The ability to listen openly and to learn from conflicting perspectives is an essential discipline for the vitality of a healthy democracy.
“Interfaith dialogue that limits itself to the search for common ground can carry with it an unintended consequence: It often leads to the conclusion that religious differences are incidental, that our disparate spiritual traditions are essentially interchangeable. Attention to world events ought to disabuse us of such notions. They should teach us that religious differences are very real and of great moment, that ideological hostilities have in fact created fault lines that separate 'us' from 'them,' and that these rifts will become increasingly wider and more dangerous if we fail to develop and nurture a more expansive sense not of sameness, but of global kinship. In our polarized and fragmented world, educational programs that forge connections across religious and ethnic divides are desperately needed.”
— Reclaiming the Center, Volume I, Introduction, Dr. Chris Leighton
Click here to read the full introduction.
Reclaiming the Center evaluations:
- RTC evaluation, years one and two (2010-2012), evaluation done by Dr. Meredith Woocher - PDF
- RTC evaluation, year three (2012-2013), evaluation done by Dr. Meredith Woocher - PDF
The Reclaiming the Center project is supported in part by grants from The Osprey Foundation, The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee, First Presbyterian Church (Atlanta), The Temple/Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (Atlanta) and Union Theological Seminary-PSCE (Richmond, Va).