Common Ground: A Baptist-Muslim Conversation

 Common Ground Event

Baptists, Muslims Find Common Ground

Shawnee, Kansas, Tuesday, April 22, 2013

Saturday, April 20, Central Seminary hosted a conversation between Baptists and Muslims at Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, KS.  The conversation was the third of three such events held by schools with ties to American Baptist Churches-USA with the goal to “create an atmosphere where these two faith communities can live in peace and respect with one another and promote the common good in the society in which we live and in the broader world.” 

In her greeting to the participants on Saturday, Seminary President Molly T. Marshall said,

In light of recent events in Boston, it is even more urgent that we grow in understanding and respect of one another's traditions.  Too often we demonize a whole way of faith because of the actions of a few.  Our gathering today seeks to find common ground and common words, "Love of God" and "Love of neighbor."  Central Baptist Seminary wholeheartedly supports the promise of an event such as this.

Common Ground Event

Common Ground: A Baptist-Muslim Conversation included interaction between 120 participants – about 40% Muslim and 60% Baptists and other Christians – as they ate together and then participated in discussion guided by Vern Barnet, Minister Emeritus of the Community Resource for Exploring Spirituality (CRES).  Quran Scholar Hafiz Nurdeen Lawal and Vice President for Religious Ministries and Dean of the Chapel at William Jewell College Andy Pratt were questioned about their respective faith’s sense of need for this dialogue. They agreed that without sharing with one another, and then sharing with their communities what one has learned from the other, neither knows what the other has to offer.  Mutual respect is a necessity for such conversation.  Lawal stressed the need to teach our youth how to have this conversation.  Pratt stressed finding ways for Muslims and Baptists/Christians to come together for humanitarian work.

A panel dialogue followed with Muslim leaders Bilal Muhammad, Manhaz Shabbir, and Ahmed El-Sherif, and Central Seminary President Molly T. Marshall.  Marshall reflected that as participants shared their lives and the central roles of their respective faiths, they recognized their common humanity, and said, “Over and over participants voiced growing respect for the serious faith of the ‘other.’"

Common Ground Event

Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary of ABC-USA, who initiated the invitation to Central Seminary to hold the event expressed his gratitude for the outcome of the event: "In the midst of the fears, anger and mistrust accompanying the attack on the Boston marathon, it ought to be heartening to all to know that we are actively involved in peacemaking. Peacemaking is an essential element of our Christian vocation and the biblical motivation for our many efforts to work for peace with our Muslim neighbors.  We are grateful for the partnership with Central and our other ABC seminaries in this effort.  Let us all rededicate ourselves to the often difficult but always essential efforts in  local, national and international arenas to wage peace."

Common Ground Event

For more pictures of the event visit Central's Facebook Page

Additional Background Infomation on the Event

Bible and Koran

The Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations of ABC-USA is partnering with Central for this significant event which is part of a national dialogue between the Muslim and Christian communities on “The Love of God and Pathways to Peace.”  The initiative comes as a response to A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter from Muslim religious leaders and scholars to world Christian leaders calling for peace and justice between the two religious communities.  The Central-sponsored conversation will be the kind of grass roots level dialogue that the Baptist World Alliance noted, in their response to the open letter, would be important.

Helpful Information

There are two documents that participants are encouraged to review before the conversation. Access these important documents related to the event via PDF files below.

A Common Word Between Us and You Document - An open letter from Muslim religious leaders and scholars to world Christian leaders calling for peace and justice between the two religious communities.

Baptist World Alliance Memo -to the Muslim Religious Leaders and Scholars who have written or signed A Common Word Between Us and You.