MCSCI response to recent terrorist attacks

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The shock of the terrorist attack in the centre of Paris has reverberated across the Western world. We grieve at sudden death of innocent people; we are angry at those who brought violence and bloodshed into the midst of our ordinary lives; we suddenly feel horribly vulnerable to the same sort of chaos we have seen enacted across the Middle East—it is one thing to read reports this week from Beirut (40 dead) and Baghdad (26 dead), which we add to the litany of distant tragedies, such as Nigeria (219 school girls kidnapped a year ago) and Kenya (147 students killed in April), but men with suicide vests on European streets suddenly brings it all close to home.

How do we respond? Continue reading

Rearranging the chairs (and the bookcases, desks…)

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No, not a defeatist attitude…but something that has actually happened in the Centre this summer. Half the room has been reorganised, we have gained a new bookcase, and Phil Rawlings (who not long ago told us about his trip to Pakistan) has now given up the pretence of having a proper desk to work at.
So why is this important? It recognises that just as with the church and work with Muslims, resources are almost limitless – but sometimes you have to look at how you do things… Continue reading

MCSCI in Pakistan

A man with a large gun stood behind a partial barricade with sandbags surrounding him
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The Christian community in Pakistan has been in the news for very bad reasons over the last few months. I now wish to share something of the courage, perseverance & loyalty of the Christians in Pakistan.

I and two friends spent four days in Karachi, leading a retreat at a theological college, speaking to students and staff, and clergy in the Diocese.
We were very encouraged by the students’ enthusiasm and commitment.

 

Theological education in Pakistan largely depends on ex-patriot teachers. We want to see more Pakistani Christian leaders gain an education good enough to teach.

The Diocese of Manchester has a formal link with the Diocese of Lahore, and we flew there to build on this link.
One of our party was interested in exploring how to creatively help community development in Lahore’s Christian communities.

 

I had three main aims:

  1. to develop friendships & partnership with leaders and Christians in the Diocese
  2. to explore the recruitment of students for the MA Theology course at Nazarene Theological College: they would then have a basis to teach their peers.
  3. to build links with Christian publishing houses, to supply the new Alexandria Christian Bookshop on the Curry Mile in Manchester.

We achieved all three – I interviewed seven possible students, and a two-year distance learning course is planned for them (subject to funding).
I contacted three publishers, and their products should be on sale in Manchester soon, and the links between Manchester and Lahore grow stronger every visit.

132 children & staff were killed at an Army school in Peshawar a month before I arrived. The tension was considerable and the army were on the streets.
Every school now has higher walls, razor wire, roof-top snipers & armed guards. Christian schools are especially warned, but children continue to come.

 

Before heading home, I shared in some interfaith dialogue, and also met some Believers from a Muslim Background – two of them evangelists in their home areas.

It was a very exciting trip, and I look forward to developing the links with the Church in Pakistan, and ask you to pray for the brave Christians there, as they face constant discrimination, and sometimes severe persecution.

Thanks for your support.

Christianity: A crash course for Muslims

White C-shaped crescent to left of white 5-pointed star in the centre of a red rectangle
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This week we have some visitors from Turkey.

A Gothic cathedral with grey and green lead roofing, nestled between Victorian and modernist city centre buildings

Manchester Cathedral (aerial view)

Arranged through the British Muslim Heritage Centre, 10 students are joining us for a week-long introduction to Christianity in the West. The aim is to explain clearly what makes our faith and its expression unique, and also to demonstrate the historical and current influence of Christian belief and practice on British society and culture.

A mug of coffeeAs we are now in the Muslim month of Ramadan, our visitors will be joining other Muslims in fasting from food (and in most cases drink) during daylight. The day’s activity at our base – NTC –  revolves around the morning coffee break. This gives an interesting perspective to their experience: By joining us at coffee time but not drinking anything, the Muslims will be able to witness to us in a very practical way, while we have a unique opportunity to not only give some formal instruction on Christianity but also what living as a Christian looks like in Britain. We hope this will lead to some interesting discussions between our visitors, staff, and NTC’s Postgraduate students who are currently working on their dissertations!

Any Christians who feel called to pray for our Muslim guests, or for Muslims they know, may find the 30 Days resource useful – a website with guidance on prayer for Muslims during Ramadan. There is also a UK-specific version of the site where you can order a physical prayer guide.

Joining the Family: Findings

A group of people in a discussion panel with audience watching
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Background

Last week, MCSCI hosted one of several seminar days currently planned across the UK titled “Joining the Family“.  The seminar days were prompted by the discussions of a nationwide group of around 40 people.  The initial group, both Christian Believers of a Muslim Background (BMBs) and members of the churches they joined, fleshed out the issues in Birmingham last May (2013).  They covered both concerns around knowing how to help new BMBs, and also how to answer questions from Muslims.

Manchester

A group of people in a discussion panel with audience watching

MCSCI’s Joining the Family seminar in progress

This time, about the same number of people based around Greater Manchester, met to share the knowledge gained – not just in that initial discussion, but also the everyday experience of people from churches across the city.

The aim is that the core “Joining the Family” group will produce resources including a teaching course for churches to both understand the issues and to be equipped to help new disciples of Christ.

Here are some of the findings from the day:

Implications for new BMBs range from a new ‘voice’ – especially for women, to a loss of honour & community persecution.  There may be confusion over what is Christian rather than Western, in areas such as how genders relate to each other.  Despite a passion to learn, there may be issues to deal with including lies or misleading information BMBs have previously heard about Christianity.

The group drew up various ideas of what the Church could and should do to support BMBs, both internal (respecting and knowing our own scriptures) and external (encouraging BMBs to continue their own culture rather than becoming fully Westernised, learning the power of an honour/shame culture).

Interested?

If you want to know more about the Joining the Family programme and the planned teaching course, please contact us and – if you have not already – sign up to receive our newsletters.

Welcome to MCSCI

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Welcome the website of the Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam.

The Centre is a project supported by Nazarene Theological College, aiming to create a centre of educational excellence in the area of Christianity and Islam.

If you would like to receive our newsletters, designed for churches and Christians who might be interested in our work, please sign up to our mailing list.

If you would like to talk to someone about the centre and what is likely to be offered contact the Centre Directors.

Directors:

Revd. Canon Phil Rawlings

prawlings@nazarene.ac.uk

Tel: 0161 438 1926 (Ext. 1935)

 

Revd. Dr. Dwight D. Swanson

dswanson@nazarene.ac.uk

Tel: 0161 438 1926 (Ext. 1928)

 

The Vision:

The centre seeks to work through teaching, learning, resourcing, equipping, and facilitating encounter and reflection in multiple ways.

¨      at the grassroots, to engage people and churches and raise awareness of the need for Christians to encounter Muslim people and develop an understanding of the Islamic faith, traditions and practices;

¨      by developing specific classes and programmes that explore ways Christians can encounter and engage with Islam in local and global settings;

¨      partnering with others to train people engaged in mission;

¨      developing research-led practice in relation to Islam and Christianity; with academic excellence, resourcing the global church with specialists.