Muslim college buys seminary campus

Faith-based education to continue on Berkeley hilltop

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Cal Lutheran sold the 10-acre property on Marin Avenue where its PLTS had operated to Zaytuna College.

Photo: Michael DeTerra

(BERKELEY, Calif. – Sept. 22, 2017) The hilltop property where a Lutheran seminary stood for 65 years before moving downtown will now house a Muslim college.

California Lutheran University sold the 10-acre property on Marin Avenue where its Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) had operated to Zaytuna College.

The purchase will allow Zaytuna, a liberal arts college that launched its undergraduate program in Berkeley in 2009, to expand as it develops its first master’s degree program and works toward joining the Graduate Theological Union.

PLTS, one of seven seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), moved to an office building on Center Street in downtown Berkeley this summer. The new location allows students to work more closely with the surrounding community, and the sale of the hilltop property will contribute to the seminary’s long-term financial sustainability. 

“We are delighted that the property is going to another nonprofit, faith-based educational institution,” said Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball. “We are also pleased that Zaytuna is committed to preserving the campus and its buildings as neighbors had wanted.”

Zaytuna is a Muslim liberal arts college accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It aims to educate students to become morally, intellectually and spiritually accomplished persons who, having been rigorously trained in the Islamic and Western scholarly traditions, are ready to interact with and shape modern society by the light of principles that transcend it, being motivated constantly by the intention of finding the extent of human wisdom.

“We are humbled and honored by this beautiful display of interreligious cooperation,” said Zaytuna President Hamza Yusuf. “The Lutheran community built and maintained this lovely campus, and has seen fit to entrust us with its next chapter, and we intend not to disappoint them. We will honor the intentions of its founders, whose expressions of love and excellence in service of the sacred remain manifest across the campus. We hope for a continued cooperation with all the great schools on Holy Hill, with special affection for our Lutheran brothers and sisters after this sincere and heartfelt demonstration of trust and solidarity.” 

“The continuation of the property as a place for faith-based education and vocational formation represents yet another opportunity for bridge-building in a multi-religious world,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. “We will pray for our Muslim neighbors of Zaytuna College and all the neighbors who will receive them.”