Lichtenwalter to Lead Islamic Studies,
Theology Faculty at Middle East University

Veteran Adventist theologian has taught at Andrews University for 12 years. (Posted February 20, 2013)

BY RACHEL LEMONS, deputy director of communications, Middle East University, writing from Beirut, Lebanon

NEW DEAN: Larry Lichtenwalter, ad instructor at Andrews University, will head the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies, along with the Faculty of Theology, at Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon.
he religion of Islam and the Middle East region are firmly situated within the global spotlight of modern society. With such prominence it is vital that the Seventh-day Adventist Church develop a solid understanding of the region and its dominant religion in order to effectively minister to, and interact with, its diverse inhabitants and adherents.

Within the Adventist community, Middle East University (MEU) envisions itself as the knowledge center on topics that relate to, or intersect with, the Middle Eastern region, its religions, its cultures, and its languages. Central to this vision is the development and expansion of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies, along with the Faculty of Theology, to be headed—as of March 2013—by veteran Seventh-day Advent-ist pastor and teacher Larry Lichtenwalter, whose appointment was recently announced. Lichtenwalter’s breadth of experience promises to bring a unique perspective to the expansion and maturation of the programs, school officials believe.

Lichtenwalter has served as pastor of Village Seventh-day Adventist Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, for the past 27 years. During this time he saw his pastoral ministry evolve to include academic roles as well. He recounts that over the past 12 years he has taught a class almost every semester at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He is the author of eight books and has published articles in various publications, including Adventist Review and Dialogue, a Seventh-day Adventist journal for college students.

In Lichtenwalter’s estimation the MEU campus “is a little haven amid all the concentrated city that’s around it. It’s a lovely campus, and it has potential and room for the addition of more buildings.”

URBAN OASIS: Larry Lichtenwalter praised the Middle East University campus as an oasis in the middle of Beirut. [PHOTOS: MEU]
In addition to the potential of the campus, Lichtenwalter believes that the Faculty of Theology and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies have the potential to flourish as well. When asked about his vision for the programs, he said, “I think we have some very exciting possibilities. There’s no doubt that the multicultural and contextual setting of MEU has a lot to offer to any young person thinking about what to do with their spiritual life or how to serve. Our world has become more and more multicultural in its perspective. I believe this campus can provide some diversity in the theological realm that some other schools would not be able to.”

MEU aims to provide a theology program that complements those of its sister universities around the world by providing a semester abroad, which complements the theological curriculum they are studying at their home universities. In charting out MEU’s niche in the space of theological education, Lichtenwalter described “a curriculum, a program where you have your Islamic and Arabic component. That is what MEU is seeking to serve.”

Lichtenwalter completed his undergraduate studies at Southern Adventist University and his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. at Andrews University. He is married to Kathie, and they have five sons and two daughters-in-law.

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