Jews, Christians and Muslims from Atlanta Visit Sites of Ancient "Al-Andalus"

August 14, 2004

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

On August 14, 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, "This summer, 32 Atlantans took a 10-day journey together through Andalusia --- the region of southern Spain that includes Grenada, Seville and Toledo --- and to Morocco, to see remnants of a distinctive way of life that once flourished there. And in planning the trip, called 'Interfaith Pathways to Peace,' the Atlantans took their cues from the ancients. While Europe --- as many scholars say --- languished in the Dark Ages, Muslims, Jews and Christians in Al-Andalus together formed an intricate social fabric. From 711 to 1492 A.D., the people of Al-Andalus had a closely entwined, occasionally clashing, and culturally fruitful collaboration. This summer's trip was a deliberate effort to re-create a modern-day version of this interfaith culture, or 'convivencia.' Gilbert Friend-Jones, pastor of Central Congregational United Church of Christ and trip organizer, carefully fashioned the group to include members of each religion. He had hoped for equal representation, but the final roster included seven Muslims, 13 Jews and 13 Christians, ranging in age from 13 to 88 and including one pilgrim from New Jersey... At the start of each day, using 'dance cards,' each person was assigned a traveling partner from a different religion. Partners would sit together on the bus, share meals and see the sights. At night, each person was assigned a different hotel roommate."