The National Council of Churches will be part of the dialogue July 28-31 when more than 150 Christian and Muslim leaders gather at Yale University to promote understanding between the two faiths.
"Christians and Muslims have gone through periods of good relations and bad relations over the centuries," said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, the NCC's Senior Program Director for Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations. "Recent history has reinforced ill will between the two communities, so this interfaith initiative can make progress toward mutual understanding."
The conference is the first of several worldwide interfaith events planned over the next two years to respond to the call for dialogue, A Common Word Between Us and You, issued by major Islamic leaders.
The conference has been organized by Dr. Miroslav Volf, director of Yale Divinity School's Center for Faith and Culture, and by Joseph Cumming, director of the center's Reconciliation Program.
The interfaith gathering was endorsed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will be teaching a course on faith and globalization this fall at Yale with Volf.
"I was ... hugely encouraged when A Common Word was published," Blair said. "I warmly welcome the fact that one of the world's premier academic institutions ... is seeking to carry the debate and the dialogue further and deeper."
In addition to Kireopoulos, leaders expected at the conference include Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan; former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi of Sudan; top Evangelical leaders Leith Anderson and Geoff Tunnicliffe; prominent Ayatollahs from Iran; Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi of Palestine, Grand Muftis of several Middle Eastern countries; and John Esposito of Georgetown University. Senator John Kerry as well as other senior U.S. government officials also are expected to attend.
U.S. churches have chosen to respond ecumenically to A Common Word. After a year-long study, they will issue their response this fall.
The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.
See also: http://www.ncccusa.org and http://www.ncccusa.org/interfaith/