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Claremont seminary gets $40 million boost to train rabbis and imams

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 16, 2011 | 2:53 pm

First reported last June, the new interfaith seminary at Claremont School of Theology makes a comeback today in the Los Angeles Times thanks to a $40 million donation that will help the nascent program expand:

The donation from David Lincoln, a Claremont trustee, and his wife, Joan, is the largest ever to the 126-year-old theology school, which enrolls about 240 students in master’s and doctorate programs in religion and counseling. The couple also gave $10 million to the school last year.

The contributions will help the school transform itself into an unusual multifaith institution, to be named the Claremont Lincoln University in the couple’s honor, with enrollment expected to grow to about 600 over the next decade, officials said. The new university will offer interfaith degree programs and serve as an umbrella for three units: the existing Claremont School of Theology, which will continue to train students from its United Methodist base and other Christian denominations, and new divisions that will train rabbis and imams.

Those new units will be affiliated, respectively, with the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, a non-denominational rabbinical school based in Westwood, and the Islamic Center of Southern California, a mosque in Koreatown.

The story offers some insights into why the school, which has its roots in the United Methodist denomination, is adding this program. But it’s not clear what the Lincoln’s religion is or why they so heavily support the new interfaith seminary, other than that they “believe the outcome of this kind of education will be tolerance and respect among religions.”

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