An international team representing the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its longstanding dialogue partner the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue in Tehran held the seventh round of dialogue under the theme “Modernity and Spirituality”, leading to a stimulating exchange with their Shia Muslim counterparts.
The dialogue was held from 15 to 16 February 2014 in Tehran, Iran.
There has been an on-going series of meetings between the WCC and the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue in Tehran beginning in 1995.
The papers offered in the meeting ranged widely over the topic, making it clear that for both Muslims and Christians, the possibilities – and difficulties - presented by modernity were a creative challenge to their faiths.
At the end of the meeting, a communiqué was issued.
Following the formal two days of dialogue, there was a wider visit, during which other representatives of the WCC, including the WCC general secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, joined the group visiting both churches and Islamic institutions in Iran.
The WCC team was invited to be guests at a dinner given by Dr Abouzar Ebrahimi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, of which the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue forms a part.
Dr Clare Amos, the WCC programme executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, commented, “We were treated both to a stimulating intellectual diet in which we learned much about the spirituality of the Shia path of Islam, and the concerns of modern Iranian society, and to the exceptional generosity of Persian hospitality.”
“I am very grateful to Dr Ali Helmi, director of the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue for his care and hard work on our behalf. All of us who were there have taken away much which we shall be pondering over the coming weeks and months, and which will help to inform the WCC as it seeks to build bridges with people of other religions in the quest for peace and justice in our world,” Amos said.
The WCC team included Bishop Leo Paul, the Rev Dr Martin Puehn, the Rev Dr Jean-Claude Basset, Dr Elias Halabi, Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, the Rev Sargez Benjamin and Ms Marietta Ruhland. Dr Heidi Hadsell and the Rev Bonnie Evans-Hills were also invited but could not attend.
* Joint communique of the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the WCC: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/interreli...