The author. who works in the area of interfaith relations at the Anglican Communion Office in London recently visited the Holy Land for the first time. She took a course "Abraham: Yesterday and Today" at St. George's College, Jerusalem, while staying at "'The House of Abraham', run by a community of French nuns offering hospitality to all regardless of nationality or faith". "The wall was very much a feature of our visit. .... The experience of checkpoints also introduced us to the apartheid that is developing. Being a group of American, Australian, English and Nepalese we were waved through with little inconvenience, not so the local residents". "One of our group had just completed three months with a Christian Peacekeeper Team and guided us around the team apartment in Hebron. It was a joy to see young Palestinian children emerge from a face painting session all smiles and giggles. Again we were reminded that the dehumanising is on both sides as we looked over to the Israeli barracks populated by young conscripts most of whom are terrified and simply want to go home". "During some of the evenings we received excellent lectures on Abraham within Islam, current work in building relationships between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Jerusalem, and Abraham in the Jewish tradition." "Worshipping with Arab Christians, praying for the peace of Jerusalem through psalms and intercessions whilst actually there, seeing the wall, all these were moving experiences."
See also advertisement for "Saint George's College, Jerusalem" on page 23 which lists three courses: Palestine of Jesus (20 April - 3 May 2007); St. Paul and the Early Church (10-23 May 2007); and St. Paul in Greece (14-25 June 2007). www.sgcjerusalem.org
There will be an international NIFCON consultation in Bangalore, South India, in September 2003. On 11 September 2003 Archbishop Rowan Williams will attend the third meeting of a Christian-Muslim Commission established by Archbishop George Carey at the Islamic University of Al Azhar in Cairo. These meetings are sometimes known as the Al Azhar dialogue after the university where they first met. NIFCON has recently expanded its web site to provide monitoring of Christian Muslim relations around the Communion.
Report also contains the full text of a story on the current political and interfaith context in Sri Lanka which has been moving toward real peace and interfaith cooperation. The article, written by Andrew Wingate, originally appeared in the Church Times of 20 September 2002 and highlights the interfaith work of Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Anglican Bishop of Colombo in the Church of Ceylon.
Text of two prayers "written for, and used at, ACC 13" (p. 30). The first by Susanne Mitchell begins: God with us / God for us / God in us ... The second by Clare Amos begins: Living and Loving God / You graciously took Abraham as your friend, / And charged him to teach his children the ways of justice and righteousness, / You promised that all the families of the earth would find their blessing in him. ....
The author, NIFCON's Administrator, writes about the Asian tsunami of 26 December 2004 and the world's response to the disaster. "The Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, [Anglican] Bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, in expressing extreme gratitude for the immediate and continuing support noted that `Much of this has been offered ecumenically and through interfaith collaboration'. Acts of remembrance and prayer for the survivors have also been held around the communion on an inter faith basis." "To quote Bishop Duleep again, `Agnostic space for integrity of space will be repeatedly required in this process. Easy, traditional God talk demands restraint for God to be really heard'. Even material aid can cause problems. Part of the motivation behind the PGI [Communion of Churches in Indonesia] organised aid in Indonesia was to counteract the political repercussions of misplaced offers of aid from overseas Christian groups, who for example wanted to adopt Muslim orphans and raise them as Christians. Good relationships between faith groups painstakingly built over the years are threatened by aggressive methods of evangelism that are insensitive to the cultural and religious sensibilities of the people".
Observations by NIFCON Administrator Susanne Mitchell about inter faith work. Recently the NIFCON office received a visitor, a senior lecturer in psychology, who "wanted help with some preliminary research probing the issue of exclusion with particular reference to the exclusion (perceived or actual) of Muslims in British society and the role inter faith work might play in overcoming it." Inter faith, says the author, "is not about only doing and saying those things about which we know there will be agreement. It is about building trust (often over many years) to enable those involved not only to celebrate what they hold in common but also to confront their differences. Inter Faith allows each party to respect in the other unique aspects, aspects about which there will never be agreement or consensus. It is about listening and listening with a little speaking. It is about finding ways finding a way to air grievances and facilitate healing. It is about maintaining identity and integrity". "A number of issues follow from that distinct definition. Firstly, Inter Faith work is not just on the level of academic debate or doctrinal wrangling." "Secondly, in a rapid changing world where rumour and counter claim can whiz around the internet in seconds what has taken months or years to build; trust; understanding; can be undone in moments". Includes brief reference to the debate about the Danish cartoons.