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[PCUSANEWS] GAC welcomes Interfaith Listening Project
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
"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
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
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