Story Magazine - Fourth Quarter, 2003

Facilitating Christian-Muslim Dialogue

From left: Roland Miller received the Race, Church and Change Award at a chapel presentation. President David Tiede and Director of Cross-Cultural Education Rod Maeker made the presentation.

Dr. Roland E. Miller Receives the Race, Church and Change Award

A longtime advocate of Christian-Muslim interaction, Dr. Roland E. Miller, received the 2003 Race, Church and Change award from Luther Seminary on Oct. 14. The award recognizes individuals who have facilitated reconciliation among diverse people and demonstrated commitment to constructive change that heals and nurtures community.

Miller spent 23 years (1953-76) as a Lutheran missionary in Malappuram, Kerala, in southern India. Upon returning to North America, Miller served as academic dean and professor of Islamic studies and world religions at the University of Regina and Luther College in Saskatchewan, Canada (1976-1993), where he founded both the religious studies program and the Saskatchewan Centre for International Languages. For a decade, he chaired the Christian-Muslim Dialogue Project for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). He also founded the Malabar Missions Society, an inter-Lutheran organization that supports the Christian church's work in Southern India.

In 1993, Miller came to Luther Seminary as a visiting professor of missions and established the Islamic studies program in conjunction with the ELCA Division for Global Mission.

Luther's international and ecumenical Islamic studies program now serves the whole community as well as students and pastors worldwide through both academic and lay courses, community dialogue, cross-cultural opportunities and scholarly research.

"Roland approaches the Muslim community, not from an us and them standpoint, but as we," said Amin Kader, professor of business administration at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, and president of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota in Maplewood. "He has real knowledge and understanding of the Muslim. It is refreshing to have a man come in as an ally, as a partner, not as a man who is trying to find a fault in someone else."

Since his retirement from Luther Seminary in 1999, Miller has continued his work through consulting, developing dialogue programs, lecturing and writing books and articles. His most recent book, Muslims and the Gospel: A Reflection of Christian Sharing, is set to be published by Concordia Publishing House in 2003. The book explores Muslims' perspectives on the gospel and Christianity. It also offers suggestions for how Christians can approach Muslims and build relationships.