Interfaith Efforts Build Relationships

Creating Channels of Communications within Religious Groups

Submitted by Rev. Jay Moses, Wheaton Hope and Moderator of EIWG

EIWG is an acronym that stands for the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Work Group of the Chicago Presbytery. Chicago Presbytery is among the few within the denomination that have such interreligious engagement at a Presbytery level.

Although Chicago Presbytery partners with justice advocacy groups from time to time, the Ecumenical and Inter-religious Work Group’s purpose is to create and sustain mutually empowering channels of communication with other religious communities. Its primary purpose is relationship-building, not advocacy for specific ideologies, parties, or causes. Now having been in existence for over a decade, you can imagine the many relationships that have been forged and developed through this channel of our Presbytery.

At the present time, EIWG is involved in the following opportunities and outreach:

  • A vibrant Jewish/Presbyterian Dialogue group
  • A Presbytery wide relationship with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
  • An exploration of the Asian community within Chicago-land and with it the religious expressions that come with it.
  • A relationship with the Waldensian Church of Italy
  • A bridge building relationship with the Church of Latter Day Saints
  • A ‘good neighbor’ watch group called the Interfaith Solidarity Network which seeks to be of aid to faith communities who have been marginalized or suffered recent hate crimes.
  • Support for the Inter-religious Initiative for Middle East Peace Initiative within the Presbytery of Chicago which seeks for opportunities to support humanizing and co-existence programs both in Israel/ Palestine but also here.
  • The Drafting of a Presbyterian Statement regarding our relationship with the Jewish Community entitled “In our Time”, modeled after the ground-breaking Roman Catholic document “Nostre Aetate” 50 years ago.
Above picture was from a dialogue in February 2015 between Korean Presbyterians in the Chicagoland Area and EIWG regarding the influence of Asian religions.

Above picture was from a dialogue in February 2015 between Korean Presbyterians in the Chicagoland Area and EIWG regarding the influence of Asian religions.

To attempt to keep all of these things viable and alive takes a dedicated core of Presbyterians who wish to be a part. Because of this, the group meets regularly and is always open to for others to join. You may contact me by email at pastorjaym@hopepresbyterian.org for further information.

As Diana Eck, creator of the Harvard “Pluralism Project” has stated so clearly, what is needed in our day is not just tolerance, but a vibrant Pluralism, which seeks not just to accept religious diversity, but rather to embrace it and see the sacred origin of it. Chicago is a place to pursue this calling, not just for the good of others, but because of the transformation and gifting that occurs when we pursue it. God’s gifts are manifest and pluriform, we give thanks for the opportunity and for the God who has created it.

This article was originally published on page 11 of the June 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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