|U.S., Iranian religious leaders promote peace|
By United Methodist News Service*
U.S. religious leaders meet
with Ayatollah Kashani in Tehran during their week-long peace trip in an
effort to ease tensions between Iran and the United States. A UMNS Web-only photo by Mark Beach.
Feb. 21, 2007
A United Methodist is among religious leaders from the United States
and Iran meeting in Iran to find common ground among faith groups as a
step toward international peace, particularly as political tensions grow
between the two nations.
The 13-member U.S. delegation arrived in Tehran on Feb. 19 and
includes Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of
Church and Society, the church's social action agency.
The delegation met with the Archbishop of the Armenian Church in Iran
and the Tehran-based Ayatollah who leads Friday prayers and is a member
of the Iranian Council of Experts.
Their Feb. 19 discussions were among a weeklong series of meetings
scheduled between the U.S. religious leaders and Iranian religious
leaders--both Christian and Muslim--as well as government leaders in
The Rev. Shanta Premawardhana
(right) of the National Council of Churches presents a quilt stitched by
Amish and Mennonite members to Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Sabu
Sarkission. A UMNS Web-only photo by Mark Beach.
The group is expected to meet with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the next few days.
Representatives participated in a three-hour Quest for Truth meeting
on Feb. 20 sponsored by the Islamic Culture and Religion Organization.
Scholars and religious leaders agreed that although dialogue is
important, now is the time for action.
"We need to go beyond dialogue and establish tangible results," said
Iranian Ayatollah Monhaghegh Damad of Shahid Behesti University in
Tehran. "We need to hold dialogue to eliminate ambiguities and
misunderstandings between religions that emerge once in a while and work
through them to establish peace."
"Peace is the key teaching of Christianity and Islam and this will be
realized in our lives," said Archbishop Sabu Sarkission of the Armenian
Orthodox church in Iran. "This is the product of dialogue."
In addition to The United Methodist Church, the U.S. delegation
represents the Mennonite, Quaker, Episcopal and Catholic churches. The
group is scheduled to return Feb. 25 and plans to meet with members of
Congress to report on their conversations.
The delegation has scheduled a news conference for Feb. 26 at the
National Press Club in Washington. For the latest news on the group's
talks, visit www.irandelegaton.org.
*This report was provided by Larry Guengerich, Mennonite Central Committee.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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Dispatch from Tehran, 2-20-07