Reformed Christianity and Islam in Dialogue at Texas Presbyterian Church

5b930e0234936.imageA Waco Christian church will open its main worship service to a dialogue with members from Waco’s Islamic Center in a three-Sunday series starting this Sunday intended to increase interfaith understanding.

The series at First Presbyterian Church of Waco, 1100 Austin Ave., which carries the somewhat dry title “Reformed Christianity and Islam in Dialogue,” has a warmer, more human intent: finding where the two faiths find common ground and where they differ, not through an exchange of lectures, but in conversation.

The Rev. Leslie King, senior pastor at First Presbyterian, said the conversations, held during the church’s 10:30 a.m. worship service and open to the public, are meant to broaden understanding of both faiths. She hopes that will foster a greater sense of community in Waco while giving members a sharper awareness of what makes their faith distinctive.

That is best done in contact over time, hence the three Sundays with a potluck dinner following church the first two Sundays.

“Any religion cannot be understood in a sound bite,” King said.

The two-person dialogues will take place during the sermon time in Sunday worship, with leaders discussing topics including belief in God, prayer and expressions of one’s faith, with members’ questions worked in. King and associate pastor Dee Dee Carson will be sharing with Islamic Center of Waco President Al Siddiq, his son Bilal and center member David Oualaalou.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD 

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Muslim-Christian meeting in Taizé helps young people dialogue

Discussion began with a key question: How to engage in dialogue without renouncing the belief that one’s own religion leads to the Truth?

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Young Christians and Muslims from across France who participated in a three-day event at Taizé Ecumenical Community say they not only experienced dialogue for common good but also became aware of fundamental faith questions.

Filling three rows under a church marquee, participants addressed a series of tough questions from the organizers, including: Do you admire anything in each other’s religion? Has this diminished your commitment to your own religion?

Among those attending were Samia, a Muslim from Syria; Eglantine, Sylvain and Anne-Sophie, all French Catholics; Lydia, a German who was raised in a “strict” Protestant family; Marvin, a Muslim from Guinea; and Bart, a Pole who lives in the United Kingdom.

Their discussion began with a key question: How to engage in dialogue without renouncing the belief that one’s own religion leads to the Truth?

Each participant sought to answer to this delicate question, drawing on the comments by Auxiliary Bishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, who is president of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Bishops Conference of France (CEF).

“If I claim to have the truth, it implies that I have had a good look around,” Bishop Aveline said. “Thus, I think that God enables me to discover the faith a little more deeply through others.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL LACROIX 

Interreligious dialogue needed to combat terrorism

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Catholic bishops from Burkina Faso and Niger have called for better dialogue between Muslim and Christian communities in an effort to combat terrorism.

The bishops were in Rome May 20-28 for their ad limina visit, which Catholic bishops must make every five years to report to the pope on their respective dioceses and meet with Vatican officials.

The 21 bishops from Burkina Faso and Niger were welcomed by Pope Francis.

At the top of the list of their pastoral concerns they shared with the pope were security and interreligious dialogue.

“The Catholic Church is surrounded by Muslim populations, and in Burkina Faso, Muslims make up 60 percent of the population,” said Archbishop Paul Yemboaro Ouédraogo of Bobo-Dioulasso, president of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger.

This is why forging peaceful and cohesive relations is fundamental, he said after his audience with Pope Francis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM LA CROIX

Christian-Muslim dialogue depends upon knowledge and trust

20170921T1318-11715-CNS-POPE-MUSLIM_800-690x450[Dr. Rita George-Tvrtković is associate professor of theology at Benedictine University, where she specializes in medieval and contemporary Christian-Muslim relations. Recent books include A Christian Pilgrim in Medieval Iraq: Riccoldo da Montecroce’s Encounter with Islam, and the forthcoming Christians, Muslims, and Mary: A History (Paulist Press, 2018). She is former associate director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and currently lives in Chicago with her husband Zoran and their children, Luka and Anya Lucia. She spoke to Charles Camosy after participating in an interfaith discussion held Oct. 22 and 23 at Catholic University of America, which brought together five Christian and five Muslim scholars from around the United States.]

Camosy: How and why did you get involved in Catholic-Muslim dialogue more generally? 

George-Tvrtković: I’ve been involved at the grassroots level in Chicago since 1997. From 1999-2002, including during the drama of 9/11, I was Associate Director of Archdiocese of Chicago’s Ecumenical & Interreligious office. Then I studied theology and medieval Catholic-Muslim relations at Notre Dame.

Now I’m associate professor of theology at Benedictine University in the suburbs of Chicago, where over 25 percent of our student body is Muslim. I’ve always combined scholarship and grassroots dialogue.

As a Catholic, I am exhorted by Nostra Aetate [the Vatican II document on the relation of the Church with non-Christian religions – Ed.] and other teachings to engage in dialogue with people of different religions. Furthermore, my institution, Benedictine University has a special calling to interreligious hospitality, which is rooted in Ch. 53 of the Rule of St. Benedict (On the Reception of Guests), which itself is rooted in Christ’s call to welcome the stranger.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX NOW

Peace-building between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon

3642739700_27ece7f930_bLebanon (MNN) – The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) seeks to change discussions between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon. In a country that still feels the effects of a 15-year civil war, people often mistrust those outside their own groups. But the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary and its department, the Institute of Middle East Studies, equips leaders to go back to their communities and build peace in the middle of chaos.

Peace-building and the Gospel

Martin Accad, the Chief Academic Officer at ABTS and the Director of the Institute of Middle East Studies explains the goal of ABTS. “We feel very much that our role is not only to develop theologically-thinking leaders, but to also develop leaders that can do works of transformation in society within the area of reconciliation and restoration of communities.”

These students go back to areas where Christians feel out of place in society. As a minority in their country, Accad says there is a sense that they don’t have a place in their culture. But this is not the message of the Gospel.

Christ calls his people to be peacemakers in whatever place they live.

Accad explains, “Peacemaking or peace-building first of all looks at conflict not necessarily as a problem, but as an opportunity. That would be the first aspect of being a peacemaker, but also peacemaking is something you do proactively rather than reactionary, as peace-keeping sounds.”

ABTS seeks to build peace proactively with five key initiatives, three of which are currently in progress.

Initiative 1: Bread and Salt

This unique program brings together both Christian and Muslim youths between the ages of 14-17 who live in the same neighborhood. Though these young people live close by, they may never have dialogued about their faith. ABTS gives them the tools they need to connect on a deeper level as they talk about their personal beliefs and break down stereotypes.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MNNONLINE 

Fuller Theological Seminary Receives Luce Foundation Grant for Interfaith Dialogue Project

photo copy - Version 2Pasadena’s Fuller Theological Seminary has received a $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for a three-year research-to-resources project that aims to shape public discourse about people of other faiths and witness, “so that such discourse is characterized by convicted civility, not fear and rancor.”

With special focus on Islamophobia and migration in a global society, this will be joint project between Fuller’s Schools of Theology and Intercultural Studies, according to a Fuller Seminary news release. The project will explore how the relationship between American evangelicals and those of other faiths has long been a tenuous and delicate one.

“We live in a divisive era, increasingly so since last year’s presidential election, with Fuller-Receives-Luce-Foundation-Grant-for-Interfaith-Dialogue-Project450heightened displays of xenophobia, especially among evangelical Christians,” says Dr. Yong, director of the Center for Missiological Research and professor of theology and mission at Fuller. “In the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century, evangelical churches across North America remain in need of developing theologies of other faiths and cultures, and practices for relating to and interacting with members of such groups, that are more welcoming than alienating.”

Principal investigators in the project include President Emeritus Richard Mouw, professors Amos Yong, William Dyrness, Roberta King, Ryan Bolger, and Kirsteen Kim, and PhD candidate Matthew Krabill.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PASADENA NOW 

Interfaith Friendship Will Save the World

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My Friend Sheima

The first face of Islam I ever encountered belonged to a smiling 11-year-old girl who kindly gestured for me to sit next to her on the bus that would take us both to our first day of middle school. I was shy and introverted, but I had been nervously excited to begin a new chapter of my life with all the thrills middle school had to offer – changing classrooms, having my own locker, no longer being just a “little kid” in elementary school. All of my eager anticipation was nearly crushed before the day even began, as many kids on the bus greeted me by making fun of the new perm I had been so eager to show off. But this one girl reached out to me in kindness, and I felt a rush of relief in the midst of my embarrassment as I sat down next to her. We gradually became good friends. Over the years, Sheima would become a sister to me, one of the first people who helped me see the beauty in God and humanity… and the potential within myself.

When we first met, I did not know anything about her religion. But as time went on, I realized that her faith had compelled her thoughtfulness in our first encounter. It is not that she felt obligated by her religion to reach out to me. Rather, in knowing God to be gracious and merciful, in learning from her faith the values of empathy and compassion, her natural inclination toward me and everyone else was one of love. Her love mirrored the love of God to which she opened herself multiple times a day in her prayers and meditations, and love from and for God shaped her understanding of the world.

This is the Islam I first encountered, manifested in one of the best friends I have ever had. Her family welcomed me into their home and hearts as well, and through them I learned not only the doctrines of Islam, but the values of Islam embodied in Muslims who take their faith seriously – values of hospitality, compassion, tolerance, patience, generosity and love.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS