ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 19, 2012
ELCA presiding bishop to speak at Coexist prize ceremony
CHICAGO (ELCA) - The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will join Jewish and Islamic leaders on a panel discussion at the Coexist Prize Ceremony March 20 in New York City.
Joining Hanson is Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and His Excellency Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt. The panel discussion is part of the Coexist Foundation's inaugural Coexist Prize Ceremony -- an international prize established to recognize an unsung hero or heroine who has made outstanding contributions to building bridges between people of different faiths.
The ceremony takes place at "a particularly important time as we continue to focus throughout the world on the Middle East and the so-called Arab Spring, and the dimensions of the changes going on in countries and its implications for religious communities, particularly religious minority communities," said Hanson in an interview.
Bringing together the grand mufti of Egypt as a person representing the Islamic community, Rabbi Saperstein and "myself illustrates that we are engaged in public conversation about what are the contributions of our three religious communities, not only to deepen our understanding of each other, but our witness to a world that too often sees religion as divisive and sees the expression of religious convictions in acts of violence and domination as opposed to reconciliation and peace," said Hanson.
The religious leaders will be modeling "what we are calling for in the world, and that's a powerful public witness. I also think that anytime international religious leaders come together gives encouragement to local people to engage their neighbor," said Hanson.
"My hope is that members of the ELCA will reach across the road to their new Muslim neighbor and to their Jewish colleague at work and say, 'Can we have a deeper conversation about our faith, so that we understand each other's faith better?' We can find a shared commitment out of that faith to build a more civil society and a more peaceful world. There is always both the mutual understanding and the deepening commitment to work together in our one common creation that God has given us."
Hanson said that the invitation for him to participate in the Coexist panel discussion is not about "Mark Hanson but that as the ELCA, we are continuously seen as a church that is deeply committed in the world and engaged in a shared commitment to interfaith relationships."
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com