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Canadian Mennonite University set to host seventh Muslim-Mennonite dialogue

Ongoing conversation allows scholars to talk about beliefs, improve understanding

A 16-year-old interfaith dialogue between Mennonite and Shi'a Muslim scholars—held in Canada and Iran over the years—will continue at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) next week.

Shi'a Muslim-Mennonite Christian Dialogue 7 will take place Wednesday, March 7 to Saturday, March 10. The event will bring together Shi'a Muslim scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) in Qom, Iran and Mennonite scholars from Canada and the U.S. for a series of presentations, responses, and discussions on the topic, "Religion and Youth."

The dialogue will begin with an opening program on Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). At this event, CMU will introduce the presenters and welcome all out of town guests. In addition to the welcome, this event will introduce the theme for the conference.

The dialogue will continue at 8:30 AM on Thursday, March 8. A full schedule is posted at cmu.ca/dialogue7. The entire event is free and open to the public.

"There are important theological, philosophical, and political reasons for organizing these dialogues," says Dr. Harry Huebner, Director of International and Inter-Faith Theological Initiatives at CMU, who has been involved in most of the dialogues.

"It's an exchange with scholars from a region that our western nations have defined as enemy, and we simply don't accept that," Huebner says. "We feel it is important to have interfaith engagements with each other."

The dialogues provide a safe place for academics and theologians to speak frankly about their beliefs, foster dialogue and improve understanding.

"We are not the same, we are different. The question is, can we hear each other?" Huebner says. "Is it possible for us to understand that we worship one God? And, if we worship one God, what can we learn from each other?"

The theme "Religion and Youth" was suggested by scholars from IKERI and will explore how Christians and Muslims between the ages of 20 and 35 view their faith. Other broad themes scholars will speak to include the meaning of life, friendship, and youth and spirituality.

Seven Muslim scholars and seven Mennonite scholars will present papers. People observing the dialogue will have the opportunity to participate in discussions following each presentation. 

In addition to scholars from CMU and IKERI, the dialogue will include participants from Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, ON; Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN; Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA; the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, TX; and Mennonite Central Committee, among others.

Huebner says he is looking forward to reuniting with his colleagues from Qom.

"We like meeting with each other," Huebner says. "In the process of doing this for more than 15 years, we have become friends."

Visit cmu.ca/dialogue7 for more details.


About CMU 
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU's Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at its Shaftesbury Campus and Menno Simons College Campus.

For information about CMU, visit: cmu.ca

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204-487-3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2

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