Metropolitan Methodios Hosts Meeting of Religious Leaders on 9/11

September 12, 2006 

Metropolitan Methodios hosted the interchurch and inter-religious leaders of Massachusetts at the Metropolis of Boston on Monday, September 11, 2006. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the “sense of well being” among the citizens of the Commonwealth in a public atmosphere of heightened anxiety, fear and mistrust.

The leaders met for more that two hours during which each had the opportunity to share positions and concerns, and dialogued on various issues which are faced by all religious communities. It was followed by a news conference.

Metropolitan Methodios was an active participant during the meeting where he encouraged interfaith conversations and relationships. He and the other leaders reaffirmed their shared principles of peace, justice and unity, stressing the need to avoid demonizing those of other faiths who do hold opposing views. All participants in the meeting reasserted their resolve to continue fostering inter-religious relations, both to achieve cooperation and understanding and to promote this spirit in the society at large. Metropolitan Methodios and other leaders resolved to sustain their relationship, thus removing barriers of mistrust and building bridges of fellowship. The leaders issued the following statements:

People of faith share these values
An appeal from interreligious leaders and representatives in Massachusetts

Soon after September 11, 2001, leaders and representatives from the many religious communities who live, work, and worship in Massachusetts came together to assess the “sense of well-being” among us in a public atmosphere of heightened anxiety, fear, and mistrust.

Although Christian, Jewish, and Islamic organizations had fostered interfaith dialogues and relationships—in some cases, for many years—this was the first occasion when the official circle was widened to include other neighbors--Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs.

We are people of prayer. We have learned through our prayerful relationships that this must be the basis for all our thoughts and actions. Since that first meeting, we have continued to meet periodically. Our purposes are the same:

  • to assess the sense of well-being of religious, racial, and ethnic communities in the Commonwealth;
  • to provide opportunities for dialogue and mutual understanding among religious leaders and representatives;
  • and to discuss opportunities for interfaith service or action.

If anything, subsequent developments have heightened the need to cultivate such interfaith conversations and relationships.

The decision to choose September 11, 2006 as the day to reconvene was made because we want to witness publicly to common values that we share as representatives of diverse religions:

  • In response to those who attempt to use religion to divide, we affirm to one another, and to the world, the shared principles for peace, justice, and unity that are central teachings of our scriptures and traditions.
  • We recognize the need to engage in dialogue with or, when appropriate, to challenge those in our own faith communities who may not affirm these common values.
  • People of faith should not demonize those of other faiths or those who hold opposing views.
  • Fundamental human rights and inherent human dignity always must be respected and protected.
  • Criticism of policies or actions of opponents in a conflict should avoid appeals to prejudice toward religious, racial, or ethnic groups.
  • People of faith seek reconciliation and promote justice—the restoration of right relationships in personal, religious, political, and economic spheres.
  • In order to be a convincing witness to the world, we affirm that this reconciling spirit is a way of being and a way of behaving.

In naming these common values, we pledge to abide by them. In doing so, we acknowledge that participants in faith communities sometimes have fostered destructive negativity. We reject such negativity in all its manifestations.

We reassert our unwavering resolve to continue with our constructive inter-religious relations, both to achieve mutual understanding and cooperation, and to promote this spirit in the practical affairs of our multi-cultural society. Therefore, we give full support to all efforts at building inter-religious relations and inter-cultural initiatives that are guided by such a spirit.

We invite others to do so, as well. In the coming year, a unique convergence of calendars offers a special opportunity to do this together.

In October 2006 and 2007, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days and Sukkot will coincide. This sacred month also includes the Christian Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4), who prayed that he be made an instrument of peace; and the Worldwide Communion Sunday of Protestants, to recognize their unity in Christ; and major feast days of the Orthodox Christians which is an affirmation of the unity they confess and seek. The convergence of these religious observances will not recur for another thirty years. The confluence of holy days in these several religious traditions will provide an occasion for interfaith dialogue and to affirm these common values.

We encourage people of faith in communities throughout the Commonwealth to seize this opportunity to gather and witness to these positive affirmations and common values. Because such inter-religious involvement may be a new experience for some, we are prepared to offer counsel based on our experiences of sustained dialogue and relationships.

Through sustained dialogue and relationships, barriers are removed and bridges are built. Strangers become neighbors. Neighbors become friends.

We are confident that the Holy is with us in every initiative that fosters the up-building of human community.

Released by members of the Convening Committee for the Massachusetts Interreligious Leaders and Representatives Group:

Rev. Dr. Carol Flett, Massachusetts Council of Churches
Ms. Nancy Kaufman, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Rev. Dr. Diane C. Kessler, Massachusetts Council of Churches
Dr. Karim Khudairi, Islamic Council of New England
Rev. Fr. John J. Maheras, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston
His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston
Rev. Fr. David C. Michael, Archdiocese of Boston
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley O.F.M. Cap, Archdiocese of Boston
Mr. Alan Ronkin, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

In partnership with the following interreligious leaders and representatives:

Rabbi Thomas Alpert
Chair, Boston Area Reform Rabbis
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal
Conference Minister & President, United Church of Christ, Massachusetts Conference

Abdul Cader Asmal, MD
Islamic Council of New England

The Rev. Theodore W. Asta
Bishop's Associate, New England Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Marc Bergeron
Ecumenical Officer, Diocese of Fall River

The Rev. Terry Burke
Ecumenical Officer, The Council of Christian Churches
within the Unitarian Universalist Association

The Most Reverend Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
Eparch of Newton, Melkite Eparchy of Newton

The Rt. Rev. Roy F. (Bud) Cederholm Jr.
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Hsiu-Li Chen, Ph. D
Member of the Massachusetts Buddhist Association

Rabbi Samuel Chiel
Combined Jewish Philanthropies

Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley
Massachusetts Bay District of the Unitarian Universalist Church

Dr. Imam Talal Eid
Islamic Institute of Boston

Imam Abdullah Faaruuq
Islamic Council of New England

Imam Hafiz Abdul Hannan
Islamic Society of Greater Lowell

The Rt. Rev. Gayle Elizabeth Harris
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Mr. Dennis Kanin
Board Chair, New England Region Anti-Defamation League

Dr. M. Riaz Khan
Islamic Council of New England

Chorbishop Joseph Lahoud
Pastor, Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Maronite Parish

Mr. Kenneth R. Levine
President, American Jewish Committee

Dr. Lawrence Lowenthal
Executive Director, American Jewish Committee, Greater Boston Chapter

Imam Hafiz Masood
Islamic Center of New England

Imam Basyouny Nehela
Islamic Society of Boston

Dr. Vito Nicastro
Associate Director, Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston

His Grace Nikon
Bishop of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese,
Orthodox Church in America

Rev. Edward M. O’Flaherty, SJ
Director, Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston

Rev. Anthony G. Pappas
Executive Minister, representing the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts

Bishop Margaret G. Payne
New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rabbi Barbara Penzner
President, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis

S. Asif Razvi, MD
Islamic Council of New England

Ravinder Sakhuja, Ph.D.
National President-elect, Indian American Forum for Political Education

Ms. Suzi Schuller
American Jewish Committee, Greater Boston Chapter

Mr. James Segel
President, Jewish Community Relations Council

The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

The Rev. John Stendahl
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
President, Massachusetts Council of Churches

Mr. Andrew Tarsy
Director, New England Region Anti-Defamation League

Fred Van Brunt, Lt. Colonel
State Commander - The Salvation Army

Mr. Claire Waterson
Christian Science Committee on Publication for Massachusetts

Bishop Peter D. Weaver
United Methodist Church, New England Conference

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