10/15/2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: For additional coverage of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns meeting, see UMNS stories #471 and #472. Photographs are available.
LOS ANGELES (UMNS) - A United Methodist commission and two Muslim groups have issued a joint statement affirming a "common commitment to living together, under God, in the unity of mutual respect and compassion."
The statement was made public on Oct. 12, when members of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns visited the Islamic Center of Southern California. Staff of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, based in Los Angeles and Washington, also were involved in the visit.
Besides promoting understanding between the two faith groups, the commission hopes its visit will be a model for other United Methodists at a time when national fears have resulted in anti-Muslim discrimination and retaliation.
Salam Al-Marayati, the Muslim Public Affairs Council's national director, called the visit "a historic day" and expressed appreciation for the commission's support. "Your presence here shows us what is great about America," he added.
United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, the denomination's ecumenical officer, unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion and presented a decorative plate, a reproduction of Islamic art, as a gift to the center.
Together, the two faith groups noted their common roots, along with the Jews, in the faith of Abraham, as well as common membership in the human family.
In their statement, they expressed grief over the tragic events of Sept. 11. "We have all been painfully reminded that there are those in our world who choose evil over good, the ways of death over life, and hostility over harmony. Together, we condemn terrorism. Together, we commend justice and peace as God's will for the world."
The faith groups also called for greater understanding between Christians and Muslims. "We join voices against all forms of racism and anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian attitudes and practices, wherever they occur. We unite in our prayers for the victims of terrorism and their loved ones; for the courageous rescuers; for the leaders of the nations; and for all who stand in harm's way this day.
"While our faith traditions have clear differences, we share the common commitment to living together, under God, in the unity of mutual respect and compassion," the statement concluded. "We invite others to join in this commitment."