GTU Announces Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh as Director of Interreligious Chaplaincy Program

Authored by: 
GTU Communications

GTU Announces Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh as Director of Interreligious Chaplaincy Program

Berkeley, CA – November 22, 2019 - The Graduate Theological Union is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh as Director of the new Interreligious Chaplaincy Program and Lecturer in Practical Theology. The founder and director of Ziraya Muslim Spiritual Care, Dr. Abu-Shamsieh has extensive international experience in primarily Arab and Muslim countries as a trainer for spiritual-care providers, and has served since 2012 as a relief chaplain at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. He completed his PhD in Practical Theology and Islamic Studies (with a focus on chaplaincy) at the GTU earlier this year, and also holds a Certificate in Palliative Care Chaplaincy from California State University Institute for Palliative Care, an MA in Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Relations and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, and a BA in Linguistics & Translations from Birzeit University.

GTU President Rabbi Daniel Lehmann celebrated Abu-Shamsieh’s hiring: “We are thrilled that Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh, a GTU graduate and a highly skilled and beloved chaplain, will be the inaugural director of our new interreligious chaplaincy program. Kamal brings a deep commitment to the field of interreligious chaplaincy both as a scholar and practitioner. His wealth of experience locally, nationally, and globally as an entrepreneurial pioneer in Muslim chaplaincy and his passion for interreligious engagement will prove invaluable in building a truly unique and compelling program.”

The new chaplaincy program is designed to equip chaplains with the skills and interreligious understanding to meet the spiritual and religious needs of increasingly diverse populations, while also offering expertise in religious traditions that have traditionally been underrepresented among institutional chaplains. Students can earn a Certificate in Interreligious Chaplaincy, while also pursuing an MA in Islamic, Jewish, or Hindu Studies. Coursework will incorporate practical pastoral skills, interfaith training, and classes on counseling, chaplaincy models and methods, and spiritual care, all designed to prepare students to be eligible for certified chaplaincy. The certificate program will also be open to students who have previously earned a qualifying master’s degree.

Dr. Abu-Shamsieh declared that he was “thrilled to return to the GTU, a place that is deeply affirming of religious identity, respectful of diversity, and committed to pluralism and dialogue.” He continued, “The Interreligious Chaplaincy program will prepares students of Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu traditions for careers in spiritual care where they are grounded in their faith and competent to care for diverse communities. The impact of this program, and the work of the leaders it will train, will be felt locally and internationally.”

Dr. Kamal Abu-Shamsieh will begin his new position as director of the GTU’s Interreligious Chaplaincy Program on December 2. For more information on how you can apply to become part of the initial cohort of students entering the program in Fall 2020, contact

About the Graduate Theological Union: Located in Berkeley, the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States, pursuing interreligious collaboration in teaching, research, and service.

Contact: Doug Davidson, GTU Director of Communications,, 510-649-2423