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Tension between hope and uncertainty remains for interfaith papers

Christian-Muslim paper is passed on but needs more work; “Christians and Jews” held to include more voices

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Three men at a table

The Rev. John Sweet and the Rev. James Camp work on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee. —Photo by Tony Oltmann


Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee members on Tuesday approved recommending the “Understanding Christian-Muslim Relations” paper to the full Assembly, while referring the “Christians and Jews” paper back to the PC(USA) offices that prepared it.

The common thread of tension between both reports is the lack of inclusion of Middle Eastern Christian voices, according to several committee members.

All who spoke during open hearings, resource comments and committee debate agreed there was much to celebrate in both papers. Committee members appeared eager to get the Christian-Muslim document to the full Assembly and into pews. People from large and small churches said it’s time to learn more about Islam.

A committee member invited Mohamed Elsanousi, director of communications and community outreach for the Islamic Society of North America, to share his opinion of the paper.

“We welcome this initiative,” he said. “There is interest for engagement.”

Elsanousi added that there has been ongoing dialogue with his organization and U.S. Catholic Bishops. Muslims who have been well-informed and are well-versed in interfaith relations have expressed appreciation for the shared peace and social justice work of the PC(USA).