Graduate Studies Director – Egypt


Job Description:


  • Cairo, Egypt

Assignment Includes:

  • Overseeing the administration of the graduate studies program of the seminary in collaboration with the Graduate Studies Committee, the academic dean, and the registrar
  • Recruiting, promoting, and overseeing the annual admission of new students into the program. Developing the graduate studies course curriculum and monitoring student progress towards its fulfillment.
  • Contributing to the continuing theological and biblical education of leadership in the Presbyterian Synod of the Nile and other church-related organizations, as requested
  • Teaching five courses during the academic year.
  • Updating program student manuals annually.
  • Helping the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) to envision and pursue graduate programs that appeal to students throughout the Arabic-speaking world as well as the students throughout the world who are interested in understanding Middle Eastern theology, biblical interpretation, history, and culture.
  • Fully participating in the spiritual, academic and community life of the seminary.

Site Information:

The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), Egypt, an institution of the Presbyterian Synod of the Nile, is the oldest and the largest Protestant Arabic-speaking seminary in the world. Its graduate studies program, founded in 1999, serves several dozen students, primarily pastors and lay leaders from the Middle East, by offering master’s degrees in Biblical Studies, Christianity in the Middle East, Systematic Theology, and Organizational Leadership and Management. The program currently includes a ThM degree and the institution is developing partnerships with other institutions to offer DMin and PhD degrees.

Egypt is home to a rich Christian history and heritage. Due to its enormous population of over 102 million (in 2020), it remains one of the largest Islamic countries of the world and is the seat of the influential and respected Al-Azhar University, a leading international Islamic institution.

The Christian community, while comprises roughly 10% of the overall population, still represents the largest Christian presence among all Middle Eastern Countries. The Coptic Orthodox Church claims as many as ten million members. The other Christian churches, although small, are vital and active. Indeed, Evangelical churches in Egypt made significant contributions to the Arab Spring, a contribution recognized by Christians and Muslims alike.

The Evangelical Synod of the Nile was founded in the nineteenth century by American Presbyterian missionaries. As has been the case here, as elsewhere in the Middle East, the original impulse of the western missionary movement was to the world of Islam. Nonetheless, the converts were almost entirely from the Orthodox Christian family, a source of irritation and distrust that exists to the present day.

The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) is the largest Protestant Arabic-speaking Christian seminary in the world, with a student body of over 450. Four years of training in the traditional disciplines leads to a Master of Divinity (MDiv). Other degrees offered include the Master of Theology (MAT) and Masters in Leadership and Management (MLM). DMin and PhD programs are in development in cooperation with other major seminaries. Students from other Arabic speaking countries attend, due to the excellent quality of education and the relative security of Egypt.

Experience and Skills:

  • Ph.D. required; fields preferred: Biblical Studies, Church History, Historical Theology or Islamic Studies
  • Administrative and classroom skills and experience preferred
  • Knowledge of Middle East context and ability to support positive Muslim-Christian relations preferred
  • Knowledge of Arabic helpful

Terms and Conditions

This position is supported under the terms of ELCA Global Mission Expectations and Support for Long Term Global Personnel. Those provisions include: international transportation, transportation related to work assignment, pensions and major medical coverage, assistance with schooling for children through high school, housing and cash salary which is adjusted according to the goods and services differential for Egypt.

If Candidate is Married

Both must complete an application for this position, even if the spouse will not be fulfilling a specific role in the ministry. In the context of global mission service, a spouse is seen as a representative of the ELCA and of the receiving church regardless of their actual role. It is important for the ELCA that both members of a couple understand the role of missionary and are comfortable with that reality. In addition, an accompanying spouse receives an appointment to service by the ELCA and the support package for mission personnel includes compensation for an accompanying spouse.

General Qualifications for ELCA Global Personnel

  • Christian faith and a commitment to the mission of the church
  • Openness to various expressions of Christian faith and respect for people of other faiths
  • Respect for beliefs, values and customs of church and culture where assigned
  • Well-developed inter-personal skills demonstrating understanding and compassion
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out the responsibilities and the ability to adapt to different standards and practices
  • Ability to work within the framework of a local administration
  • Adaptable and flexible – sense of humor – good physical and emotional health
  • Live and serve in a way which reflects the vision and expectations of the ELCA

Notice: Rostered ministers and lay leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who apply for a position in the churchwide organization must have completed Rostered Minister Profile papers on file. Please add as a safe site to your email account.
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Religious tourism has been hit hard in the pandemic as sites close and pilgrimages are put on hold

THE CONVERSATION — Religious tourism is among the oldest forms of planned travel and to this day remains a huge industry.

About 300 to 330 million tourists visit the world’s key religious sites every year, according to a 2017 estimate. Some 600 million national and international religious trips are made around the world, generating around US $18 billion in global revenues. It makes up a sizeable chunk of an overall tourism sector that has been significantly affected by the spread of the coroanvirus, with 63.8 percent of travelers reducing their travel plans as a result.

A concern of all faiths

As COVID-19 evolved to become a global pandemic, governments across the globe closed sacred sites and temporarily banned religious travel.

It has affected popular destinations of all faiths. Jerusalem, Vatican City and Mecca – which attract millions of Jewish, Christian and Muslim visitors annually – are among the worst affected.

Likewise, Buddhist sites such as Nepal’s Lumbini Temple and India’s Mahabodhi Temple, as well as the Hindu temple of Kashi Vishwanath, have seen a slump in visitors.

This has had huge financial implications for the host countries.

For example, last year approximately 2.5 million Muslims from around the world performed the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, with nearly 2 million coming from outside of Saudi Arabia.

However, this year only around 10,000 people were expected to do the pilgrimage while observing social distancing measures.


Fact check: Joe Biden quote on teaching Islam in schools needs more context

Posts on social media make the claim that U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden wants “Islam to be taught in our schools”, suggesting this would be at the expense of teaching Christianity. This claim is misleading and misrepresents Biden’s remarks.

One example of the claim, shared over 154,000 times since July 23 is visible  here  . Other examples are visible  here  and  here  . 

On July 20, 2020 Biden sought support from Muslim Americans during an online event hosted by Emgage Action, a membership organization mobilizing around issues affecting American Muslims ( here  ,  ). 

Speaking virtually before the Million Muslims Vote Summit, Biden said, “I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith.” He added: “I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths. It’s one of the great confessional faiths.” 

Biden specified that, from a theological standpoint, “what we don’t realize is that we all come from the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs.” ( here ) 

During his remarks, Biden did not imply substituting the teachings of one religion over another but encouraged learning broadly about the “confessional faiths”, or faiths usually associated with a formal statement of doctrinal belief, including different denominations of Christianity and Judaism.  

Biden is a Roman Catholic who for years has written and spoken publicly about his faith ( here ). Most recently, Biden has leaned into his religious commitments, emphasizing his faith during the presidential election and the Democratic National Convention this past week ( here ). 


Biden campaign says China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims is “genocide”

The Biden campaign said in a statement Tuesday that the Chinese government’s oppression of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the northwest region of Xinjiang is “genocide,” and that Joe Biden “stands against it in the strongest terms.”

Why it matters: Genocide is a serious crime under international law, and the U.S. government has adopted the formal label only on rare occasions after extensive documentation.

  • China has vehemently rejected any claim that it is engaged in human rights abuses in Xinjiang, but reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have documented a sweeping campaign of repression against Uighurs.
  • The draconian reports of mass surveillance, arbitrary detentions, brainwashing, torture and forced sterilization have been described by some experts as “demographic genocide.”

Between the lines: Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates initially provided the statement in response to an unconfirmed Politico story, which reported that the Trump administration is considering formally labeling China’s actions a genocide.

  • The internal deliberations are reportedly still in the early stages. A formal accusation of genocide by the U.S. would infuriate China at a time when tensions are already running high, and could prompt calls on the international stage for the U.S. to take greater steps to intervene.
  • President Trump told Axios in a June interview that he held off on imposing sanctions against Chinese officials involved with the mass detention camps because doing so would have interfered with his China trade deal.
  • Former White House national security adviser John Bolton also claimed in his book that Trump encouraged China’s President Xi Jinping in June 2019 to continue building the detention camps. Trump has denied the allegations.


UAE attempt to get Muslim scholars to endorse Israel deal falls flat

A number of Islamic scholars, including those close to the UAE’s leadership, distance themselves from a statement purporting to endorse the disputed normalisation deal between Abu Dhabi and Israel.

Several Islamic scholars have distanced themselves from a statement endorsing the UAE’s pact with Israel, which was put out by an Abu Dhabi-sponsored faith forum last week.

The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (FPPMS) put out the statement shortly after the agreement was announced earlier in August.

It praised the “wise” leadership of the UAE’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), and his efforts to establish stability and a “just and permanent peace” in the Middle East.

The statement was signed by the chairman of the FPPMS, Abdullah bin Bayyah, as well as a number of other members of the organisation, including the American Islamic scholars, Aisha al Adawiyah and Hamza Yusuf.

Bin Bayyah, has separately endorsed the normalisation treaty between the UAE and Israel using similar language in his capacity as the head of the Emirati Fatwa Council.

“The Emirates Fatwa Council blesses the wise leadership’s acts for the supreme good for the nation and its people,” said in the other statement.

However, amid a torrent of criticism, both Adawiyah and Yusuf rejected the statement put out in their name, denied they had ever endorsed it, and restated their support for the Palestinian cause.


What Can Bring Christians and Muslims Together?

In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was killing members of religious minorities in Iraq, including Yezidis, Shia Muslims, and Christians. The thousands of Christians who were displaced had difficulty trusting Muslim neighbors, who some believed were complicit in attacks. After the war, Salma Mousa wanted to understand how trust could be rebuilt among Christians and Muslims in Iraq. So she turned to a great group unifier: sports.

Soccer is popular among both Christians and Muslims in Northern Iraq, and in many ways soccer teams are an ideal way to test theories developed in U.S. based research labs about intergroup relations. Psychological theory suggests that intergroup contact will be more effective at creating better relations between the groups when (1) participants are on an equal footing, (2) the activity is endorsed by community authorities, and (3) participants have a common goal. Soccer teams with a mixture of Christian and Muslim players check all the boxes.

So Mousa and her research team contacted captains of local Christian soccer teams in Northern Iraq and asked if they’d be willing to participate in a study of people displaced by war. Importantly, they agreed to be randomly assigned to one of two research conditions: continue playing on an all-Christian team, or have three Muslim players—who had also been displaced by ISIS—added to the team.


For Muslim Women in Niqabs, the Pandemic Has Brought a New Level of Acceptance

“People now see that covering your face is a symbol of safety and protection.”

Things feel different for one Baltimore-area Muslim woman lately when she shops at her local Trader Joe’s. A Muslim woman who observes niqab—aace veil that masks her nose and mouth—she has noticed fewer people giving her looks, probably because they’re covering their own faces too. “There’s less staring and hateful comments,” she said. “Before, as a niqabi, I would stick out. With the mandatory face masks, niqabis are being more accepted.”

For Muslim women accustomed to being the only people in their communities covering their faces in public, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unexpected, and welcome, change. A niqab is different from a CDC-endorsed face mask, and worn for a different purpose, but it now stands out far less—and the women who embrace niqab may have reason to hope it will continue to be more accepted even when the pandemic is over.

For those who observe niqab, it is considered to be an act of devotion to God, and a form of modesty and protection. They are a more common sight in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and have been a cultural flash point in France, where they remain banned in public even as COVID mask laws have gone into effect. Even as American Muslims become more visible in Congress and in pop culture, Islamic attire like the niqab or a burqa can carry a stigma.

“The attitude of most people is of repulsion toward this piece of cloth,” the Baltimore-area woman said. “They view it as unnecessary, scary-looking, ultra-orthodox, and oppressive. I’ve always felt isolated, judged, and uncomfortable wearing it. Just like with everything, this current pandemic has changed things for niqabis, veiled-face women.”


To beat Trump, the ‘good Muslim, bad Muslim’ messaging has to end

(RNS) — I spoke this week at the 2020 Democratic National Convention’s Interfaith Council meeting. As refreshing as it was to hear voices encouraging change from the last four years, it felt like some things were still being missed.

Although Muslims were present at the DNC, it definitely seemed like we were being kept on the sidelines.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is unsurprisingly commonplace among Republican politicians in the United States. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promises of a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims were not a starting point, but just one of many Islamophobic public statements made by a Republican candidate for president that year. 

These days, it would be hard to find a Republican politician who hasn’t said something xenophobic about Muslims, and although the acknowledgment is not where it could be, there is still some acknowledgment of Republican Islamophobia nonetheless.

Yet, for some reason, the role Democrats play in deepening Islamophobia is hardly ever acknowledged or discussed. 

This week, Joe Biden tweeted a note of thanks to Ady Barkan, an Israeli American lawyer and progressive activist who spoke on the main stage of the DNC’s second night of programs: “Thank you, @AdyBarkan for your courage and for all that you do to ensure a more just, more equal America. #DemConvention.”

The day after, Barkan demonstrated this ethic in a tweet that supported Linda Sarsour in response to the Biden campaign’s disavowal of her.

RELATED: Joe Biden’s acceptance speech caps off an unusually faith-filled Democratic National Convention

Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim woman well-known for her social justice work on behalf of marginalized communities of all backgrounds. She spoke at the DNC as well and, to no one’s surprise, her presence was immediately controversial.

She’s Palestinian.

She’s Muslim.

She speaks out against anti-Blackness, mistreatment of women and so much more.


The Ottoman sultan who changed America

America, Protestantism and coffee all have a Muslim history

By Alan MikhailAlan Mikhail is professor of history and chair of the department of history at Yale University and author of the new book “God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World.”August 20, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Most Americans don’t know that their morning cup of coffee connects them to the Ottoman Empire. Few are aware that this bygone Muslim state helped to birth Protestantism, America’s dominant form of Christianity, or that the European explorers who “discovered” the Americas did so because of the Ottomans’ and other Muslims’ stranglehold on trade between Europe and Asia. In fact, some Americans don’t even know what the Ottoman Empire was. When Americans think of the Middle East, they often view it as a theater for American wars and a region essential for its oil. Yet all of us owe important parts of our culture and history to the most important empire in Middle Eastern history, the Ottoman Empire, and specifically to one sultan who lived half a millennium ago.

This September marks the 500-year anniversary of the death of a singular, but forgotten, historical figure — Selim I, the ninth sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Selim’s life and reign spanned perhaps the most consequential half-century in world history, with reverberations down to our own time. He nearly tripled Ottoman territory through wars in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus. More than Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, German Catholic priest Martin Luther, Italian diplomat and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli or others of his contemporaries, Selim’s triumphs literally changed the world.

In 1517, Selim and his army marched from Istanbul to Cairo, vanquishing his foremost rival in the Muslim world, the Mamluk Empire. Selim now governed more territory than nearly any other sovereign. He held the keys to global domination. He controlled the middle of the world, monopolized trade routes between the Mediterranean and India and China, and possessed ports on all the major seas and oceans of the Old World. His religious authority in the Muslim world was now unrivaled. And he had enormous resources of cash, land and manpower. Lording over so much, he fittingly earned the title “God’s Shadow on Earth.”AD


Faith and Values: ‘Interfaith’ work means everyone gets a seat at the table

I recently had an exchange with someone who was concerned about my approach to interfaith work.

As the executive director of SpokaneFāVS, my job is more than religion reporting. Through our journalism, commentary and the FāVS Center (our 1-year-old faith and nonfaith community center), our goal is to foster community dialogue and educate people about the beliefs that make up this great city.

One of the glorious things about Spokane is its religious diversity. Besides hundreds of Christian churches, we have two Sikh gudwaras, and strong Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i and Hindu communities – to name a few. We also have an increasing number of atheists, agnostics and nones (those with no affiliation).

To me, interfaith work means bringing all those voices to the table.

The term ‘interfaith,’ though, has become loaded because many seem to associate it only with progressives.

And that’s where the above-mentioned exchange comes in. This person couldn’t understand why we would have conservatives and/or Evangelicals sitting at our table – people who saw LGBT issues and Black Lives Matter differently than them.

On the flip side, I’ve also had people question why we have atheist writers. My argument to them is the same.

I reminded them that interfaith work (or faith and nonfaith, as I prefer) can’t be exclusive. We can’t preach inclusivity, and then leave groups out who have different views from us. (Extremists would be the exception).

FāVS has worked hard to become a gathering place for all beliefs, which of course means not everyone sees eye to eye.

And I think that’s wonderful.