NEW HAVEN, Conn: More than 150 Muslim and Christian leaders, including some of the world’s most eminent scholars and clerics, will gather at Yale University July 28-31 to promote understanding between the two faiths, whose members comprise more than half the world’s population.
Prominent political figures and representatives of the Jewish community also will speak at the conference, which launches a series of interfaith events planned around the world over the next two years.
The gatherings respond to the call for dialogue issued in an open letter, A Common Word Between Us and You, written by major Islamic leaders, to which Yale scholars responded with a statement that garnered over 500 signatures.
A watershed in Muslim-Christian relations, this interfaith meeting was organized by Yale Divinity School’s Center for Faith & Culture under the leadership of its founder and director, Miroslav Volf, together with the director of the Center’s Reconciliation Program, Joseph Cumming. Volf will co-teach a course on faith and globalization at Yale this fall with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“I firmly believe that few things are more vital to our shared future than that people of different faiths understand each other better, respect each other more, and work together more closely,” Blair said. “I warmly welcome the fact that one of the world’s premier academic institutions is seeking to carry the debate and the dialogue further and deeper.”
Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said Yale is committed to bringing the best insights of faith and intellect to bear on contemporary life, and the relationship between Christians and Muslims “is one of the most pressing issues of our time.”
Notable leaders expected at the conference include Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan; former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi of Sudan; top evangelical leaders Leith Anderson and Geoff Tunnicliffe; prominent ayatollahs from Iran; Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi of Palestine, Grand Muftis of several Middle Eastern countries; Antonios Kireopoulos of the National Council of Churches; and John Esposito of Georgetown University.
Sen. John Kerry as well as other senior US government officials are also expected to attend.