The Archbishop of Canterbury convened an ecumenical gathering earlier in the week to discuss ways in which Christian-Muslim engagement might be strengthened and deepened.
It brought together more than 40 participants from a broad range of geographical, cultural and denominational settings, and comes against the backdrop of the A Common Word letter from 138 Muslim scholars to Christian leaders declaring the common ground between the two faiths.
In his welcome to the participants, the Archbishop expressed his gratitude that so many had taken the opportunity “to discuss together the current experience of dialogue with Muslims – situating the significance of the open letter A Common Word within it, and determining what degree of consensus might be possible as we look forward”.
The discussions brought together church representatives from around the globe, including Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria and Malaysia, as well as those from Western countries where Christianity is the majority religion, in sharing their experience of engagement.
Dr Williams said, “It has been tremendously important to me personally … that we have heard such a range of perspectives. As well as deepening our shared understanding of the challenge before us it has, I think, renewed for us all the significance of the church’s work in this area of cooperation with other faiths for the sake of peace in our common home.”
Delegates at the consultation were heartened, the Archbishop’s office said, by the great variety of initiatives by Muslims and Christians taking place at many different levels.
A great emphasis was placed on the need to ensure that the results of these encounters were more widely disseminated and influenced the education and formation of young people.
The Archbishop agreed to continue working in response to A Common Word.