The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), in partnership with the Institute of Ecumenical and Cultural Research, will host annual, weeklong opportunities for a small (up to 15 person) group of eastern and western Christian leaders to meet in the monastic setting of Saint John's Abbey and University for structured, off-record dialogue, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between Christianity and Islam. HMML will also sponsor individual visits by select scholars of eastern Christianity (up to 10 per year) to HMML to access its collection of eastern Christian manuscripts.
Since 1965, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library has photographed 30,000,000 manuscript pages in projects throughout Europe, Ethiopia, and the Middle East, and is the world's largest archive of manuscript images for scholarly research. In 2003, HMML began a major initiative to photograph the entire manuscript heritage of the ancient Christian churches in the Middle East. These indigenous communities, dating from the pre-Islamic period, possess a rich and endangered manuscript culture now further threatened by the political instability of the region and the diminishment of the communities through emigration. HMML currently has nine active photography projects in Ethiopia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey and will extend its work to Egypt and Israel in the coming year.
The Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, established at Saint John's Abbey and University in 1967, has pioneered structured, off-record, consultations among members of different religious traditions. The Institute has a program for resident scholars at its Marcel Breuer-designed facilities, intensive summer consultations, and events for the general public. Saint John's University, sponsored by the Benedictine monks of Saint John's Abbey, provides an undergraduate liberal arts program in partnership with the College of Saint Benedict, as well as graduate theological education. Saint John's Abbey, founded in 1856, is among the world's largest Benedictine monasteries and has been a leader in liturgical renewal, ecumenism, manuscript preservation, and environmental studies.