Christianity and the Middle East: Chicago Conference Will Examine Christian-Muslim Relations
"Christian-Muslim Relations: Toward a Just World Order" is the theme of the April 22-24, 1993 World Mission Institute, co-sponsored by two dozen Islamic and Christian organizations under the auspices of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. Centered at Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology, the opening session will be held at the nearby American Islamic College. The programs will "bring together members of two of the world's great faith communities whose ever deepening encounter history is making inevitable," the sponsors announced. "As never before, Muslims and Christians must learn to live together in community rather than...in contention."
"As never before, Muslims and Christians must learn to live together."
Dr. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Harvard emeritus professor of the comparative history of religions, will give an overview of 14 centuries of encounters and clashes, noting grounds for reciprocal gratitude as well as mutual forgiveness. Dr. Willem Bijlefeld, director emeritus of the Duncan Black McDonald Center for Islamic Studies at Hartford Theological Seminary, will address "Alienation and Rapprochement" in 20th century Christian-Muslim relations. Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub of Temple University will speak on "Contemporary Problems and Challenges," and Prof. Rosemary Radford Ruether of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will describe "Christian-Muslim Relations in a Post-Cold War era."
Participants also may choose two among seven workshops, each with a Muslim and a Christian facilitator, on such topics as "Theological Issues: Dialogue, Mission and Pluralism;" "Authority, Understanding and Use of Scripture;" "Islam in the African-American Communities;" and "How We Talk and Think About Human Sexuality."
Forms for registration (which is free, although "voluntary contributions are appreciated") may be secured, along with information on meals and lodging, from Neva Vogelaar, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615.
Churches Respond to Turmoil in Former Yugoslavia
In its latest "situation report" on the fragments of former Yugoslavia, the World Council of Churches highlights some of the frustrations secular and religious agencies are encountering there. Anticipating the problems that will affect postwar stability, it insists that plans for civic reconstruction must include the preservation of a multi-ethnic society "with special sensitivity to the needs of Muslims whose culture and identity have been gravely threatened by `ethnic cleansing.'"
Human rights violators, including rapists, must be brought before appropriate tribunals along with the fomenters of the war itself, the WCC says. "While refusing impunity for the guilty, one must also work for true reconciliation, avoiding revenge and restoring dialogue," the report adds.
"Churches and ecumenical organizations abroad," it notes, are pursuing efforts "to promote the role of religious leaders and communities in the war- torn area as advocates of non-violence, negotiation, tolerance and compassion" and "to encourage them to become visibly engaged in rehabilitation and reconciliation."
Such heartening responses are no substitute for peace, however, for all its problems. To that end, all possible encouragement should also be given to responsible U.N. and governmental agencies.
Spiritual Leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan Plead for End to Strife
The tragic, divisive impact of history--including some seven decades under Soviet rule--on relations between mostly Christian Armenia and largely Muslim Azerbaijan must be ended and reversed, according to Vasken I, Catholicos of All Armenia, and Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur PashaZadeh, chairman of the Board of Caucasian Muslims of Azerbaijan. Their three-day February meeting with their cohorts, as guests of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches in Montreux, Switzerland, produced a joint document to that effect. …