Written by Gregg Brekke
With a revised title demonstrating the positive nature of the resolution, General Synod delegates resoundingly declared their intention "To Counter Actions of Hostility Against Islam and the Muslim Community." Committee 12 member Paul Adkins quoted theologian Hans Kung, who said, “There will never be peace among the nations of the world until there is peace among the religions of the world.”
Delegates engaged with several of the questions the committee had debated in its earlier review of the document. Several expressed concern with the use of the word “Islamophobia,” and Lawrence Iannetti of Massachusetts offered an amendment to remove it.
Committee member Mike Underhill, pastor of Nexus UCC in Liberty Township, Ohio argued against it, saying, “It’s important in this document to have the words that actually reflect the reality which unfortunately we live in.” The amendment was defeated, as were all other changes offered from the floor except to the title.
As delegates moved to the final vote, Assistant Moderator Patricia Aurand, who had presided over the 25 minute debate with considerable grace and humor, misread the title as “To Counter Actions of Hospitality Against Islam.” Laughing, she explained, “It comes from being in a welcoming Church.”
After the final vote (728 in favor, 10 opposed), Mohammed Sammak answered the invitation to the microphone to offer thanks on behalf of the Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue in Lebanon, of which he is general secretary. “Allow me to address you as brothers and sisters,” he said. “[The passage of this resolution] shows clearly that the UCC is up to the standards of the Christian values that the church is promoting, and the United States of America is also up to the standard of the humanitarianism she speaks always about.”
Because of the rise of fundamentalism and extremism in the Middle East, Sammak told the assembly, Christians in the Middle East suffer. Fundamentalism, he said, means “monopolizing God, and monopolizing truth, and refusing all other beliefs. Here Christians and Muslims suffer together.”
By adopting this resolution, he said, “You send a clear message to the people of the Middle East, the whole Islamic world, that this is Christianity… and this is a message of love.”