Peer to Peer Group Studies Interfaith Issues in Middle East

The Lowdown
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The first participants of Peer to Peer, a new Resonate Global Mission program aimed at building interfaith understanding, returned a few months ago from a two-week trip to the Middle East.

Three of those who made the journey were leaders from the United States and three were from Canada; two were from the Reformed Church in America and four came from the Christian Reformed Church.

“The program is designed to help equip and train pastors and other leaders in North America for interfaith dialogue from a Reformed perspective,” said Rev. Greg Sinclair, team leader for Salaam 2.0, an educational ministry that works to build understanding among CRC members for people of other faiths, especially Muslims.

The training involves two weeks overseas. One week is spent in the Middle East with a partner that dates back to when the Reformed Church in America began collaborating with government leaders in this region 125 year ago to build peace, moderation, and understanding, especially for those who come from countries where Islam is portrayed negatively. The second week is spent on the field with Resonate Global Mission workers in another Muslim-majority country. The exact locations cannot be published here due to potential security issues.

“Participants observe interfaith dialogue and other aspects of Christian-Muslim relations and then initiate interfaith dialogue in their home communities,” Sinclair said. “We also will involve participants in an ongoing community of practice to help them in their interfaith journey.” Salaam 2.0 plans another cohort of up to eight participants for 2018.

Participants are considered Resonate volunteers and are asked to cover their airfare and visa costs. In-country expenses for the training portion are covered by grants from Resonate Global Mission and RCA Global Mission.

Running since 2015, Salaam 2.0 grew out of Salaam Project, which was a multi-agency effort to help equip CRC congregations for witness and dialogue with Muslims in an increasingly pluralistic world.

Salaam 2.0 is a ministry of Resonate Global Mission focused on mobilizing the church in Canada for witness and dialogue with our Muslim neighbors.

“We are now transitioning to a focus more widely on diaspora people in Canada--or our neighbors from other cultures and faith traditions who are increasingly moving into our neighborhoods,” said Sinclair.

In Hamilton, Ont., they have run three interfaith dialogues with the local Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque through Sinclair’s church—New Hope Church.

The speakers for the second dialogue were  Jim Payton, professor emeritus of history from Redeemer University College, and professor Abid Mirza from York University.

 “The first dialogue took place at their mosque, the second two dialogues happened at the Perkins Centre where our church meets on Sundays,” said Sinclair.

About the Author

Chris Meehan is news and media relations manager for CRC Communications, and a member of Coit Community Church.

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