As a minister in the United Church of Christ, I'm deeply troubled when extremist Christians use religion to disparage other faiths. The truth of the matter is that we all can learn from the different ways we understand the Almighty. God's work is the work of reconciliation. Christian extremists who make millions off attacking the Islamic faith or those who threaten to burn the Qur'an for free publicity make all Christians look like religious zealots. Their actions damage the church universal.
We can blame part of this on the media that enjoys controversy (and the public that eats it up). Stories about different faiths working together don't get covered but the work of inter-religious dialog is of critical importance to the future of humanity and it should not be ignored.
As the World Council of Churches reports, early this November Christians and Muslims will gather to seek common ground during a time in history where faith is used to often to divide people:
High-ranking Muslim and Christian leaders as well as renowned scholars and interfaith practitioners, representing various Islamic and Christians organizations, will gather 1-4 November at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva for an international consultation on Christian and Muslim concerns.
The international consultation, which is called "Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslims Building a Common Future", will identify and address issues of common concern and provide guidance for cooperation between Muslims and Christians, including faith-inspired approaches for joint Christian-Muslim action.
A joint statement will be issued at the end of the consultation on 4 November during a press conference.
The consultation will open with keynote addresses by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad bin Talal,personal envoy and special advisor to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Church of Sweden.
Also participating in the consultation will be: the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit; Dr Muhammad Ahmed Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society; Dr Abdulrahman Al-Zayed representing the Muslim World League; and Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Al-Tashkiri, secretary general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.
Rev. Thomas Wipf, president of the Federation of the Swiss Protestant Churches and the Swiss Council of Religions, and Sheikh Yousef Ibram, imam of the Geneva mosque, will also be attending.
The consultation, which builds on the solid basis of past initiatives and achievements by a variety of organizations and networks, is a joint Christian-Muslim initiative in planning, funding and participation. The conveners are the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Islamic Call Society, the Royal Aal al Bayt Institute and the Consortium of A Common Word.
"Christians and Muslims have a joint responsibility to contribute the very best of their theological, spiritual, and ethical resources for the common good of humanity", stated the organizers.
The group expects the consultation to "develop concrete ways of building a common future, in order to achieve more compassionate and just societies, based on equality, co-citizenship and mutual respect".
Wouldn't it be nice if CNN and FOX News used their networks to offer wall-to-wall coverage of this event?
Please keep the organizers and participants in your prayers.