Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Disciples' General Minister and President, and Disciples' leaders respond to "A Common Word"December 5, 2007
Leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) welcome the invitation for dialogue on peace and understanding from Muslim religious leaders
INDIANAPOLIS – Sharon Watkins (General Minister and President), Robert Welsh (President, Council on Christian Unity), and Peter Makari (Disciples of Christ representative to the NCCC Interfaith Relations Commission) have issued a statement in response to the "open letter" from 138 Muslim leaders to the global Christian community on "A Common Word Between Us and You" (see www.acommonword.com) that expresses their hope for a global dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders to advance the cause of peace in our world.
Welcoming the invitation to wider discussion and mutual understanding, the statement affirms, "In a time when the powers and principalities of our societies and our world drive persons, nations and religions apart, we believe we have an opportunity with religious leaders nationally and globally to witness in new ways to God's love as the basis for building true communities of justice, peace, and a lasting security for all."
The full text of the Disciples response is attached below:
To the Muslim Religious Leaders who signed the open letter, A Common Word Between Us and You
Greetings and peace to you from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada.
We wish to express our thanks to the signatories of the "Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders," A Common Word Between Us and You, for your statement that calls for a serious dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders at a time when the world cries out for such an initiative in seeking peace and understanding, and when so much religious language has been wrongly used to support conflict, hostility and war between nations and peoples.
As a church that has its membership in North America, we welcome this opportunity to be part of a global discussion that looks to our common commitments to love God and neighbor as the source of working together both for peace in our world and for greater understanding of our different faith traditions. As stated in your letter, "our common future is at stake." The relationship between our two religious communities may, indeed, be the "most important factor to meaningful peace in our world." Interreligious dialogue is a priority for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and we are committed to interfaith relations—particularly with the Muslim community—both here in North America and around the world.
A new frontier approved by the Council on Christian Unity of our church in April 2005 was "to understand what it means to live in the changing landscape of an interfaith context and interreligious world." We view your letter as a significant statement for study and reflection in pursuing that new frontier, drawing upon the sacred texts of the Abrahamic faith - the Qur'an, the Torah, and the New Testament - as a way for living the community God wills for all people.
We also believe that A Common Word for Us and You represents an unprecedented document to be used in teaching Christians about Islam, and therefore should be given serious attention and study across the life of the global and ecumenical church. We pledge to work cooperatively with other churches and Christians through the ecumenical channels of the National Council of Churches in the USA and the World Council of Churches as they look to prepare a common theological response and reflection to the "Open Letter."
In a time when the powers and principalities of our societies and our world drive persons, nations and religions apart, we believe we have an opportunity with religious leaders nationally and globally to witness in new ways to God's love as the basis for building true communities of justice, peace, and a lasting security for all.
We pray God's blessings upon this extraordinary moment to act together for peace."
The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President
The Rev. Dr. Robert K. Welsh, President, Council on Christian Unity
Dr. Peter Makari, Disciples of Christ representative to the NCCC Interfaith Relations Commission
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