Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Includes Agreement to Promote Understanding of Different Faiths

November 22, 2000

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On November 22, 2000, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that "a mosque and 12 Christian congregations on Milwaukee's southeast side will enter into a covenant of national significance at an interfaith Thanksgiving service tonight. Representatives will sign their names on a brief statement that includes this pledge: 'Within the unifying love of God, we commit ourselves and communities to the exercise of understanding, cooperation, and growth in unity through faith.' Told of the covenant Tuesday, Diana Eck, director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, said she would mention the unusual agreement when she speaks at an interfaith event on Thanksgiving at First Parish Church in Plymouth, Mass. 'I think what's happening in Milwaukee is a very, very exciting development,' said Eck, a professor of comparative religion...The mosque and the 12 churches, which include a Native American congregation, are in or relatively near the city's Bay View neighborhood. The covenant was endorsed by their congregations and will help them explore ways to improve the community, said the Rev. Lowell Bartel, pastor of Bay View United Methodist Church, 2772 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. 'It's a very rare thing that you get people actually signing their names to a document pledging that kind of cooperation,' said C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of The Interfaith Alliance in Washington, D. C...Ecumenical agreements often involve a number of denominations within Christianity. Interfaith agreements involve different faiths, such as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or others. 'There's a growing understanding that there are some common values in the midst of religious diversity,' Jack Murtaugh, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, said as he described the increasing number of ecumenical Thanksgiving services in urban and rural areas in southeastern Wisconsin. 'The Bay View one is the only one that I'm aware of that has moved a step further, where they're going to sign a covenant.'...The covenant has grown out of a variety of shared activities between the Islamic Center and Christian churches in the past few years: a shared cleanup of Wilson Park, socializing that included singing by children's groups, youths meeting to discuss school violence, and Muslims participating in meetings of the ecumenical clergy association that has existed for years in that part of Milwaukee...The Rev. James McClurg, pastor of Unity Evangelical Church, agreed. 'I feel this is particularly significant because of the situation in the Middle East,' McClurg said. 'We need to understand one another instead of acting out of religious bigotry and our past judgments. And how do you get to know one another if you don't have any kind of relationship?' The entire article can be accessed here.

See also: Interfaith