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Kireopoulos greets North American Muslims
during a 4th of July gathering in Washington

Washington, July 8, 2009 – More than 35,000 Muslims gathered in the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) were greeted last week by Christian and Jewish leaders, including Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos of the National Council of Churches.

Kireopoulos, the NCC's Senior Program Director for Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, greeted the inaugural session of the convention on July 3, and led a workshop on the implications of the "Common Word" dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

"The goal of the NCC is Christian unity," Kireopoulos said. "It’s no secret that the Christian churches are divided into many, many traditions and communities.  But while our main goal is theological unity, we also try to manifest the unity that we already have in common by belief in the same Jesus Christ, mainly through our witness to bring justice in a world of injustice.  While this is, of course, a Christian enterprise, something important to note is that we consciously do this within a pluralistic society.  Our journey as Christians is enriched by our friendships with people of other faiths."

Kireopoulos said, "My job is at the theological heart of the Council, where I lead the theological dialogues among Christians and among members of other faith groups, like yours. We have all – Christians and Muslims and others – come to know that we reach out to one another based on common principles and beliefs."

" Despite our differences," he said, "what we have in common allows us to reach out to one another in friendship so as to make our sojourn in this land as fruitful as possible.  This is, I believe, consistent with one of your themes here, which affirms that we have 'A Common Word' between us and you."

In his workshop on July 4, Kireopoulos described the process that led to the ecumenical response to "A Common Word Between Us and You," a message to Christians from Islamic leaders and scholars.

"It was important for the National Council of Churches to affirm that we responded to your outstretched arms with equally outstretched arms based on our understanding and experience of God," Kireopoulos said. "In other words, while we agreed that the two great commandments, the love of the One God and the love of neighbor, were central to our two faiths, and to Judaism as well, and thus a basis on which to work together for peace, our understanding of the One God as the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – informed our understanding of the human relationship to which the Muslim letter called us. 

"We also felt it was important to assert our understanding of Jesus Christ – an honored prophet to Muslims, but the savior of the world to Christians – as the one who brought about the fullness of such relationship.  And we needed to affirm our understanding of the Spirit as the one who quickens the human impulse to such relationship. "

Full text, Kireopoulos greetings.

Full text, Kireopoulos workshop introduction.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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