Public Lectures and Events

Free and open to the public


The Dawe Lecture – March 22, 2018 – 7:30 – 9 p.m. – Lake Chapel in the Early Center on the Richmond campus

“The First Muslim Refugees in the Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia: Implications for Christian-Muslim Relations Today”

Dr. Zeyneb Sayilgan, visiting assistant professor of Islamic theology and religious pluralism at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.  

Description: The Migration to Abyssinia was an episode in early Islamic history where the first Muslims fled from persecution and sought refuge in the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia, present-day Ethiopia and Eritrea in the year 613. In her presentation, Zeyneb Sayilgan will reflect on how this historical encounter can inform Christian-Muslim relations today in constructive ways and guide people of faith in the current public discourse on immigration.

There is no cost to attend this lecture – all are welcome!  Registration is not required.

Dr. Zeyneb Sayilgan was the Senior Fellow for Peace and Reconciliation and Luce Visiting Muslim Scholar at the Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) at VTS for 2014-15. Her doctoral research at Georgetown University’s theology department focused on the intersection of Islamic theology and immigration. Sayilgan obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Islamic Studies and Law at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany in 2004. In 2008, she graduated from Hartford Seminary in Connecticut with a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations.

Her position as the visiting assistant professor of Islamic theology and religious pluralism is fully funded by the Louisville Institute, and her selection by that foundation as one of only five postdoctoral fellows is a signal accomplishment and an indication of her promise for scholarship and teaching.


The Dawe Lecture series is funded through The Donald and Nancy Dawe Fund for Emotional and Ethical Growth. The Fund was established thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Coleman Longan honoring Donald and Nancy Dawe. Dr. Dawe was professor emeritus of Union Presbyterian Seminary until his death in 2012.

The lecture series, which is held annually at Union Presbyterian Seminary, pays tribute to Dr. and Mrs. Dawe and promotes ethical and religious understanding. Because of Professor Dawe’s long-standing interest and commitments in the area of multi-religious and multi-cultural understanding and interfaith dialogue, this lecture series seeks to contribute to deepened awareness and insight in these areas of intellectual and especially practical religious concern.

NOTE:  This lecture will be LIVE-STREAMED through Union Presbyterian Seminary’s Facebook page.  Go to to view the lecture.  Questions may be sent to