NCC Governing Board Responds to 'A Common Word,' and Calls for Immigration Reform and an End to Trafficking

September 24, 2008

Author: Philip E. Jenks

Source: National Council of Churches

The National Council of Churches Governing Board approved an ecumenical response to the Muslim message, "A Common Word Between Us and You," declaring Christianity and Islam share a love of God and "are compelled to find common ground."

The Governing Board also passed resolutions calling for action in reforming U.S. immigration and naturalization policy, and to bring an effective end to human trafficking.

In an affirmation of Muslim-Christian engagement, the Board welcomed "with gratitude" an October 2007 letter endorsed by more than 200 Muslim scholars and leaders around the world calling for a serious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Dr. Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University and chair of the NCC's Interfaith Relations Commission, described "A Common Word" as a "historic document, a kind of a Muslim ecumenical letter, a bold and timely invitation."

Eck said "there is no minimizing our differences, but our greatest commandments to the love of God and neighbor are common to us. Our very souls are at stake if we fail to come together in harmony."

Both Christians and Muslims "realize the urgency of talking with one another," said Dr. Peter Makari, executive for Middle East and Europe for the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Ecumenical Response noted that at the heart of "A Common Word," there is "a call for Christians to consider that Muslims are with us, and that this togetherness bears upon the state of the world. The importance of this call should not be underestimated ... We pray, not only for the absence of enmity, but for the nurturing of friendship between our two communities."