Muslims and the United Church of Canada: Mutual Learning, Mutual Respect

Written by Unity United Church on. Posted in News, Outreach

religionDid you know that The United Church of Canada has been working for well over a decade on improving relationships between itself and Muslim communities in this country and around the world? We have. In fact, The United Church of Canada has invested countless hours in prayer, research, dialogue, listening, overseas visits and yes, money developing resources that can benefit all of our communities—after all, we share the same planet and we should learn about our neighbours. Here are a few things you might not know our denomination has said about our Muslim friends: 1.) The United Church of Canada Affirms Mutual Respect with Muslims This document, released on the 10th anniversary 9/11 does exactly what it says: our church respects Muslim people—and we see it as a two way street. While it was written before the Syrian refugee crisis, the statement still holds true. If you don’t have time to read the whole document, this statement summarizes it quite nicely:  “As we remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we [The United Church of Canada] are concerned about the characterization of Muslims as “enemies” in the so-called “War on Terror.” We [The United Church of Canada] are profoundly disturbed by recent statements of hostility toward Islam and we strongly condemn threats and actions that incite religious and racial hatred.” Read more (click >> below)   2.) The United Church of Canada believes that Muslims and Christians share special and sacred connections. At General Council 39 in 2006, the United Church of Canada proclaimed what our church believes with regard to Muslims. The whole document is worth reading; here are just a few highlights: Affirms that Christianity and Islam are in essence religions of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion. Acknowledges hostility and misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims and between Christianity and Islam. Affirms a vision of Muslim and Christian relations no longer bound by past histories, and free from ignorance, indifference, and ill will. Affirms that we share with Muslims a belief in one God and a common heritage through Abraham. Acknowledges another common bond in that Jesus, as understood in Islam, is accorded special honour as a prophet in the Qur’an and by Muslims. Acknowledges the prophetic witness of Muhammad, and that the mercy, compassion, and justice of God are expressed in the Qur’an, which is regarded by Muslims as the Word of God. Affirms that The United Church of Canada is committed to a vision which leads us to work with Muslims and others for peace and justice for all humanity. Invites all people of The United Church of Canada to participate in conversation and study that upholds and respects the integrity and faithful witness of our traditions.   3.) Our Moderators Have Issued Statements in Support of Muslims who are Persecuted In October of 2015, The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell became the most recent Moderator to support Muslim people in their struggles. Her whole statement can be found in the link; here is one excerpt: I urge all of you in our church, our political leaders, and all people of good will to challenge the prejudice and Islamophobia that are escalating in our country. And I encourage all of us to make an effort to get to know our Muslim sisters and brothers. Prejudice and fear thrive where there is ignorance and misunderstanding.”   4.) In 2003, The United Church of Canada created a resource to help its members and adherents learn about Islam so that healthy relationships between Muslims and Christians in Canada can be built. The Resource is called, “That We May Know Each Other”. It laid the ground work for the statements which have come from the denomination since 2003. This resource has given congregations and community members the opportunity to have conversations about Islam and the Qur’an as well as its overlapping points with Christianity. Over the past 13 years, people of all ages and levels of education have learned about Islam. There is even the opportunity for participants to visit a Mosque. This is type of education is important because, as The Moderator says: “when we truly know one another as people, not as stereotypes, we discover that there is much more that unites us than divides us.” An exploration of this resource will begin at Unity in the spring. Dates TBA. All are welcome to attend.

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