|Dr. Michael T. Shelley
Director of Center, and Professor of Christian-Muslim Studies
|Dr. Mark N. Swanson,
Associate Director of Center, and Professor of Christian-Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations
|Dr. Ghulam-Haider Aasi,
Consultant for Programs at Center, and Visiting Professor in Islamic Studies
|Dr. Carol Schersten LaHurd,
Educational Outreach Consultant at Center, and Visiting Professor in Biblical Studies and Islam
Michael Shelley serves as director of the Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Ordained in 1979, he is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has taught at LSTC since 2003, and served as its Dean of Academic Affairs from 2009-2013.
From 1979-2003, he and his wife, Joanne, served as ELCA missionaries in Cairo, Egypt. There Shelley’s principal work was in congregational ministry and theological education. He served as the pastor of the Heliopolis Community Church (1979-1982) and St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo (1988-1998), and as director of graduate studies and professor of church history at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (1998-2003), which is the official seminary of the Evangelical Synod of the Nile, the Presbyterian Church of Egypt. Shelley taught courses in the fields of Christian-Muslim relations and the history of Middle Eastern Christianity. For twelve years (1991-2003), he was also on the teaching staff of the Dar Comboni Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies, an institute established by the Comboni Order to train Catholic religious for work in the Muslim world. Shelley has also taught at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, England, and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mark Swanson came to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from Luther Seminary where he taught Islamic studies, Christian-Muslim relations, Arabic language and early church history. Before that he served for 14 years on the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. His research interests include the history of Christian-Muslim relations, medieval Egyptian church history, and early Arabic Christian literature. Dr. Swanson speaks at various congregational events with expertise on the topics of early and Middle Eastern Christianity, Islam, Christian-Muslim relations, and the Christian response to religious pluralism.
He is one of four members of the Editorial Board of the monograph series, "The History of Christian-Muslim Relations" (Brill), a member of a team producing a three-volume set, The Popes of Egypt (Cairo and New York: American University in Cairo Press) and is presently at work on Volume Two, The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt. He serves as Christian Arabic "Language Leader" for the multi-volume project, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History (Leiden: Brill, first volume to appear before the end of 2008) and is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Coptica (Los Angeles).
Sara Trumm serves as the Program Coordinator at A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She grew up in a small Minnesota town and became interested in cross-cultural education during an East African experience after graduating from Augsburg College in Minneapolis with a BA in Psychology and Religion. This led her to further work with the international community and a Master’s degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
She studied, traveled, and worked in India for 1 ½ years, where interfaith relations became an important aspect of her cross-cultural experiences and education. Upon her return to the US in 2008 she began in her present position. Learning from and working with the interfaith community continues to feed her own faith. In 2010, Sara became a Community Ambassador through Interfaith Youth Core. She appreciates the diversity of Chicago, and longs for mutual understanding and respect among people of different faith and cultural traditions.
Dr. Ghulam-Haider Aasi served as Chairperson of the Islamic Studies and Religious Studies Department, as well as Professor of Islamics and History of Religions at the American Islamic College in Chicago from 1983-2010. He earned his PhD in Islamics and History of Religions at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Aasi has taught and lectured at International Islamic Universities of Malaysia and Pakistan. He also taught at Loyola, DePaul and Northwestern Universities in Chicago. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago since 1990, as well as at Catholic Theological Union since 2001.
He is founding member of the Conference for Improvement of Muslim-Christian Relations at Chicago and was its co-chairperson from 1988-2002. He is member of the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue Committee of America. He is a founding member and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago from 1988-1997.
Dr. Aasi has been actively involved in interfaith dialogues and is committed to improvement of inter-religious cooperation and understanding. He is the author of many articles in this area and has been participating in interfaith conferences both at the national and international levels. Dr. Aasi is a well-known Islamic scholar and consultant for Islamic affairs in the USA and the Muslim world.
Carol Schersten LaHurd lives in Chicago where she serves as adjunct professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. From 2006-2010 she was coordinator of the Middle East peace-making campaign of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She has taught biblical studies and Islam. She received the M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago, and the Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. With her family she has lived in Damascus, Syria, and Sana'a, Yemen, where she taught English as a second language and did research on women in Islam.
Dr. LaHurd has published numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on biblical and interfaith topics. Carol LaHurd has deep and extensive experience in inter-religious and ecumenical work. She has been co-chairperson of the Muslim-Christian Relations Committee of the Minnesota Council of Churches, chairperson of the Ecumenical Affairs Committee of the Minneapolis Area Synod, member of the ELCA Peace Task Force (to draft the 1995 social statement, “For Peace in God’s World”), and member of the North Carolina Synod Ecumenical Affairs Committee. Dr. LaHurd served on the Board of the ELCA Division for Global Mission from 1997-2003. Currently she is active in adult spiritual formation at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chicago.