From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] GAC welcomes Interfaith Listening Project

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 29 Sep 2004 16:35:25 -0700

September 22, 2004

GAC welcomes Interfaith Listening Project participants

Program ready to kick off new round of talks

by Evan Silverstein

LOUISVILLE * The General Assembly Council (GAC) welcomed Christians and 
Muslims from around the world Wednesday as the visitors prepared to kick 
off the second Interfaith Listening Project.
	 GAC members heard from some of the guests about life in their 
native countries during its regular meeting here, which also included a 
visit from moderator Rick Ufford-Chase.
	 Under the Interfaith Listening Project, which starts this week, 
Presbyterian Church (USA) partners across 10 countries each sent a 
two-person team to the United States.  Every team is supposed to include 
one Christian member and a Muslim who already are in dialogue.
	 However, an immigrations snag at the international airport in 
Atlanta, GA, sent one participant back to Niger. PC(USA) officials said 
they hope to resolve the problem so the member can eventually return to the 
United States to participate in the project.
	 Each team will visit congregations, presbyteries, colleges and 
local communities to share their experiences of the realities and 
challenges of Christian-Muslim relationships.
	 The program, first held in 2002, was developed in the aftermath of 
the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks as a way for Presbyterians to engage in 
interfaith conversation.
	 "The idea is very simple, bring Christian-Muslim relationships in 
the flesh to people in our congregations in our local communities," said 
the Rev. Jay Rock, coordinator of the PC(USA)'s Interfaith Relations Office.

	 Seventeen years of war in Lebanon "has given us an incentive to 
work on implementing programs that aims at bringing people together and 
building bridges," said Lina Hamaoui, a Muslim from Beirut who serves the 
Ministry of Social Affairs on the Higher Council for Childhood.
	 The denomination's Worldwide Ministries Division's Interfaith 
Relations Office and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), in partnership 
with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program developed the program.
	 "The Presbyterian Church has been a partner with us for a long 
time," said Andreas D'Souza, a Christian from India who is director of the 
Henry Martyn Institute, an international center for Research, Interfaith 
Relations and Reconciliation. "It is with your partnership that we have 
been able to bring to our particular situation * a dialogue moving toward 
interfaith relations and reconciliation."
	 Earlier, the GAC Executive Committee met. Business before the 
executive committee included:
	 l Hearing from moderator Rick Ufford-Chase of Tucson, AZ, who 
spoke about his recent trip to Columbia, South America. The purpose of 
Ufford-Chase's visit there was to begin a program of "accompaniment" 
between the PC(USA) and the Presbyterian Church of Columbia. The program 
would establish an outside presence to protect people fighting for human 
rights, including church members in Barranquilla, an Atlantic coast city in 
the north;
	 l Approving appointments to a newly-formed mission funding task 
force charged with devising a conceptual framework for a new mission 
funding system for the PC(USA), a goal of the denomination's Mission Work 
Plan. Members appointed to the task force: Paul J. Masquelier Jr. of San 
Jose, CA; Carol G. Hylkema of Dearborn, MI; Dan K. Shoemer, Canfield, OH; 
Linda A. Knieriemen of Grand Rapids, MI; Conrad M. Rocha of Albuquerque, 
NM; and Reginald S. "Reg" Kuhn of Lincoln, NE;
	 l Approving appointments of members to a newly formed governance 
task force to evaluate, develop and propose a structure of the GAC (elected 
and national staff) that will strengthen connectedness with presbyteries 
and synods as part of a goal of the denomination's Mission Work Plan. Those 
appointed to the task force: Carol J. Adcock, Fort Worth, TX; Susan Andrews 
of Bethesda, MD; Nancy Kahaian, Michigan City, IN; Kenneth R. Newbold of 
Rose Hill, NC; Joe W. Rigsby of Jacksonville, FL; and Ray Tanner of 
Jackson, TN.

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