NEW YORK — “We welcome the letter of these Islamic leaders and scholars,” said the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), in response to a document, “A Common Word between Us and You,” released by 138 moderate Muslim leaders on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr, the concluding day of Ramadan, the month-long season of fasting and prayer.
“It is a sign of hope in a violent world,” he added.
Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, associate general secretary for Interfaith Relations added his gratitude for what he called “a deliberate and thoughtful” document.
“This initiative will give new impetus and urgency to our work of Muslim-Christian dialogue,” he said, pledging to “use this to highlight to the broader American public what moderate Muslims are doing to counter the rhetoric and actions of extremists.”
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, a diverse community of 35 Christian communions, intensified its work in Muslim-Christian relations following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Premawardhana noted. This included “efforts to stand in solidarity with Muslims at a time when many Muslims in the United States faced significant levels of discrimination,” he said.
“We have also attempted to counter the voices of extremist Christians with initiatives aimed at teaching Christians about Islam and helping churches build relationships with mosques in their local communities,” Premawardhana added.
The NCC is currently working with Muslim colleagues to develop an ongoing Muslim-Christian leaders’ dialogue table, Livingston noted, adding that the NCC will take the letter from the Muslim leaders “with the seriousness it deserves” and seek to respond by developing new ways to enlarge the dialogue between and among its interfaith partners.
“We thank the Islamic leaders for their initiative,” Livingston said.
The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America’s Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These NCC member communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.