Working in a consensus model, Committee 12 recommended that General Synod 28 adopt the resolution “On Actions of Hostility Against Islam and the Muslim Community” submitted by Wider Church Ministries.
Committee members universally supported the direction of the resolution and its call to the church to declare its “clear support for neighbors in the Muslim community,” in response to highly visible anti-Muslim statements and actions in the United States over the last year.
Delegates and visitors to the committee deliberations told story after story, both about anti-Muslim activities in their home regions and actions taken by UCC churches in response. Matt Davis of La Crosse, Wisc., said the resolution is very timely for his community. A local Muslim congregation has been growing, and looks now to purchase land to build a mosque.
“We can already feel stirrings against it,” he said. With Davis’ encouragement, the committee added language to the resolution calling for documentation and publicity of actions taken “in support of Muslims and people of other faiths.”
Margaret Johnston, a laywoman from the Gainesville, Fla. area, offered a sign of hope from the very center of the Quran burning controversy. After the desecration, UCC pastors the Revs. Lawrence and Sandra Reimer joined with clergy of several confessions in the Gainesville Interfaith Forum to speak against hateful acts with one clear voice. They have chosen to act together as well, and the group will undertake a Habitat for Humanity building project together.
Minnie Montgomery, who works in the public schools in Bethesda, Md., may have said it best. “In my seventy-some years,” she told the delegates, “I am finding we are more alike than we are different.”
Wider Church Ministries brought the measure to Synod, said Executive Minister the Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, because of concerns raised by ecumenical partners around the world, who experienced some severe backlash from the Quran burning and Cordoba House controversies in the summer of 2010.
The committee began and ended its deliberations with prayer, lifting up their concerns not just for their Muslim neighbors and friends, but also at the invitation of chairperson John Ramos of Watertown, Conn., remembering the cares and concerns they brought with them to General Synod.
General Synod delegates will vote on this and other resolutions on Monday and Tuesday.