UCC leaders and pastors will discuss interfaith relationships amid continued violence in Gaza

Beginning Oct. 7, more than 30,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis have died in escalating violence in the Middle East. 

Since then, Global Ministries — the common witness that the United Church of Christ shares with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)has been sharing updates and statements on the situation in Gaza, especially from partners such as Churches for Middle East Peace

At the same time, there has been a related rise in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and anti-Arab attacks in the United States and elsewhere.  

For many UCC congregations and clergy, building interfaith relationships with Muslim and Jewish communities is vital to the life of the church. Calling for peace and justice, particularly for the people in Gaza, is also crucial Christian witness for many of the same churches.  

“We’re aware that many congregations and pastors are feeling the strain on interfaith relationships they have in their local communities as the conflict in Gaza escalates,” said the Rev. Shari Prestemon, Acting Associate General Minister of the UCC and Co-Executive of Global Ministries. “There are often tensions between how we feel called to prophetically witness for peace with justice in Israel and Palestine and the concerns of our Jewish and Muslim neighbors with whom we want to stay in relationship and dialogue. Many communities are also seeing a rise in anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim violence, which also demands a response from our churches.” 

That’s why UCC national leaders and local pastors will share their thoughts in a special webinar, “Navigating Interfaith Relations in the Midst of Global Conflict,” on Wednesday, April 10 at 11:30 a.m. ET. 

Panelists will tackle difficult topics 

Along with Prestemon, panelists for the webinar will include:  

“The conflict in the Israel and Palestine has always been a difficult topic in our interfaith spaces, just as it has for our local clergy and congregations,” Pettis said. “Rather than simply avoid the subject, we have begun to engage more intentionally, recognizing the deep complexity, and simultaneously acknowledging the emotional and spiritual impact these issues and conversations have on all of us.” 

‘Important that we speak our truth’ 

Because this complexity affects local churches direcly, two clergymembers from UCC congregations — Schultz-Thomas and Nash — will also share their perspectives. 

The Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, meanwhile, under Fernando’s leadership, has called for commitments to counter anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim bigotry and dehumanizing narratives that lead to violence

“It is important that we speak our truth, while also attending to our relationships, and that is not easy,” said Pettis.  

He added that these kind of dialogues can help clergy and congregations navigate similar conversations in their own contexts. 

Prestemon echoed that sentiment. 

“We hope this webinar will acknowledge these complex challenges and help our churches navigate them faithfully,” she said. 

Register for the April 10 webinar here.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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