Christian-Muslim conversations seek cooperation and understanding

By agency reporter
16 Oct 2008

The World Council of Churches (WCC), together with a number of Christian world communions, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Roman Catholic Church are expecting some 50 church leaders and experts on Christian-Muslim dialogue to attend a consultation from 18 to 20 October in Chavannes-de-Bogis, outside Geneva, Switzerland.

The aim of the consultation is to provide a space for churches and communions to share their initiatives and theological resources for engaging with Muslims, and to identify substantial issues for Christian theology in relation to Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Among the expected outcomes of the consultation is to consider ways to articulate a Christian theological understanding of dialogue with Islam and identify theological issues that are pertinent to Christian self-understanding in relation to Islam. To achieve this, the consultation will consider input from different Christians traditions and from the experience of churches in different parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Catholicos Aram I, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church (See of Cilicia), will be the key-note speaker at the consultation. Already as moderator of the WCC Central Committee from 1991 to 2006, Aram I gave considerable leadership to the Council's work on interreligious dialogue and coooperation.

The meeting brings together representatives of the WCC fellowship of member churches, councils of churches and communions of churches, including the Anglican Communion, the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council (Christian Churches), the Friends World Committee for Consultation, the International Old-Catholic Bishops Conference, the Lutheran World Federation, the Reformed Ecumenical Council, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council.

The consultation emerged from an ecumenical process of response to A Common Word, a letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars and addressed to Christian leaders around the world, which was launched by the WCC in 2007. This process includes the release of the document "Learning to Explore Love Together," which encourages WCC member churches to be in dialogue with Muslims in their local communities.

This event builds on a series of dialogues between Christians and Muslims, including a high-profile conference at Cambridge University ending today, hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury, as well as a meeting at Yale University in July.

Since the letter was released, Christian leaders from the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant and Evangelical traditions have been working with Muslims to organize a series of dialogue events and consultations which are scheduled through 2010.

What is unique about the consultation taking place from 18 to 20 October is the space it provides for developing, ecumenically, a common Christian theological understanding of dialogue with Islam and the implications for Christian-Muslim dialogue today.

WCC programme on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/programmes/interreligiousdialogue.html

"A Common Word between You and Us", a Muslim letter to Christian leaders: http://www.acommonword.com

WCC commentary "Learning to explore love together": http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=5690

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