ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 9, 2009
ELCA and ELCJHL Bishops Deepen Conversations among Christians and Muslims
WASHINGTON (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, were among 1,000 people who attended the fourth major Muslim-Christian dialogue conference here Oct. 7-8.
"It has been both the challenge and the hope for this conference that common words would lead to common deeds," said Hanson. "We have heard stories of places where particular Muslims and Christians are deepening their understanding of one another in dialogue that leads to engagement in their communities."
The discussion was an extension of a 2007 document, "A Common Word Between Us and You," from 138 Muslim scholars to Christian leaders, calling for Christians and Muslims to work together for peace. It declared that the world's future depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.
In a message to the attendees, Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammed said the purpose of the conference was "to examine and chart out some concrete, practical, and, more importantly, actionable ideas."
Younan said three actions are needed: to understand what it means to love the neighbor; to infiltrate the "Common Word" into the grass roots, especially among the younger generation; and to create a "prophetic diakonia" -- working together to provide development, relief and social services.
"I have challenged that some steps should by taken like working together, Muslims and Christians, for justice in the world," said Younan. "To work for justice in the world, it cannot be only Muslims or Christians and cannot be only for our own interests, but it must really take into consideration what problems are facing us and need justice."
Younan cited a number of Muslim and Christian charities. He suggested forming a joint charity project which would consist of and be equally funded by Muslims and Christians. "There is poverty in the Muslim and Christian world and we cannot deal with them (issues of poverty) alone," he said.
Hanson, paraphrasing Younan's comments at one of the conference panels, said, "If our common words do not lead to common deeds that bring justice where there are very real conflicts today, where people's lives are at stake, then our work is completely unfinished."
Both Lutheran bishops have met with Muslim leaders, focusing on issues of peace in the Middle East. Past conferences of the "Common Word" initiative were held at Yale University, the University of Cambridge and the Vatican.
Information about the conference is at http://president.georgetown.edu/sections/initiatives/commonword/77725.html on the Web.
Audio of comments by Bishop Hanson is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/091009Hanson.mp3 and that of Bishop Younan is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/091009Younan.mp3 on the ELCA Web site.
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