Left, poster for an interfaith fair in Bellevue, Washington;
right, a Jewish and a Muslim woman walk together in Seattle, Washington
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Current Presbyterian News
Presbyterian Mission Agency has new interfaith staff person
The Rev. Dr. Christine Hong has become a staff member in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Theology, Worship, and Education area, filling a vacancy left by the retirement of Jay Rock in 2011. “I’m excited about the educational aspect of this position,” she says. “In our current climate of violence, fear,misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, it becomes critical for us to equip congregations to cultivate relationships with their neighbors of different traditions and religions." Christine's work has already begun to take her into relationships with others offices of PMA and with Presbyterians around the church.
A recent Ph.D. graduate of Claremont Lincoln University, an newly emerging multifaith consortium that encompasses the Claremont School of Theology in addition to institutions for training Muslims and Jews, Christine also holds degrees from the University of Washington and Princeton Theological Seminary. After completing her original theological education, she served as an associate pastor of a multigenerational Korean-American congregation on Long Island, New York; more recently, she was a parish associate at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California, while doing her doctoral studies.
Presbyterians Today, May 2013 issue, features Presbyterians and Muslims
Presbyterians Today has focused its May 2013 issue on interfaith relations, predominantly between Presbyterians and Muslims. The cover features a picture of former moderator Rick Ufford-Chase together with Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), who are described in the feature article. The "Go figure" column looks at statistics for Muslim in the United States. Other articles look at Muslim followers of Jesus, interfaith hospitality, and college experiences.
Seminary honors graduate who has advised on conflict resolution
San Francisco Theological Seminary has named Byron Bland for its 2013 Distinguished Alumnus award. Now retired, Bland served as an ecumenical campus minister at Stanford University for 15 years and is presently a senior consultant at the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation. He has written, "Churches should stop making pronouncements [about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] and start engaging in the dialogues that could help the parties give shape to peaceful relationships." They should also do two non-relational things: (1) speak out about cruel and humiliating treatment of Palestinians and (2) divest from Caterpillar (because the church should not profit from the destructive activity related to its product, though divesting will not bring peace through forcing concessions, he says).
Further work on Christian-Muslim relations requested by General Assembly
In conjunction with adopting Toward an Understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations, the 219th General Assembly (2010) called for the development of a fuller study articulating a theological understanding of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to be presented for consideration of the 221st General Assembly (2014).
The General Assembly stated in 2010 that the process for the 2014 document is to involve broad consultation that would include representatives of the national Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus and PC(USA) partner churches in majority Muslim countries. Meanwhile, the individual Muslims in the group consulted before the writing of the 2010 paper have been criticized. Frontpage Mag published an article sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy that charges the PC(USA) "partnered with Islamist groups for the project." The office of Theology and Worship, in which the PC(USA) interfaith office is currently placed, has denied the validity of these charges.
Relationships of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Stony Point incorporates interfaith involvement into its basic life
The Stony Point Center, a Presbyterian conference center about an hour out of New York City, has been home to an interfaith "Community of Living Traditions" for the past four years. In the fall of 2012, it concluded that the Community of Living Traditions be directly incorporated into the center's life, without any distinction of having a separate existence. As the center goes through a transition process that will result in it becoming an independent, constituent corporation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) has asked that its mission of hospitality and nurture of a multifaith movement for peace and justice be "accomplished in a way that clearly affirms Presbyterian values and priorities so that it supports the overall commitments of the denomination." See the center's 2012 annual report.
Ecumenical initiatives with Muslims in the U.S. in which the PC(USA) participates
Presbyterians and their partners in mission relate to people of other faiths
F. Adeney Risakotta, N. Kassab
Do you want to follow the work of Presbyterian mission around the world in interfaith efforts? Here are some sample people and some institutions with which Presbyterians partner:
* Bernie and Farsijana Adeney Risakotta serve in Indonesia, where he helped establish the innovative Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies and she is director at a center for research and community development. They work together with Christians and Muslims toward building a just society. They expect to be in the U.S. from July to December, 2013, and are available for visiting congregations
* Princeton Seminary graduate Najla Kassab, the Christian education staffer for the Evangelical Church of Syria-Lebanon, has highlighted the role of reconciliation and dialogue, rather than violence, at this time in the Middle East's history. This is a specific task of the churches in the broader society.
Links to interfaith organizations
Click on logo to go to organization's web site. Click on name to go to news on this web site.
Links to more interfaith organizations on other web sites:
At the Charter for Compassion web site
At the North American Interfaith Network web site
A multifaith calendar, showing dates for observances of various religions
An additional multifaith calendar
On this web site:
Interfaith Principles: a statement adopted by the PC(USA) General Assembly
A Model Statement of Interfaith Commitment: a locally-prepared statement
On the PC(USA) web site:
Interfaith Relations: information and news from the PC(USA) office of interfaith relations
Interfaith Toolkit: resources for reflection and how-to-do suggestions
A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews: a PC(USA) statement (1987)
Christians and Jews: the text of a brochure summarizing PC(USA) understandings
Christians and Muslims: the text of a brochure summarizing PC(USA) understandingsu