The Ninth Annual celebration of the agreement between the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Northern Illinois Conference was held on June 12, 2014, at the Villa Park Muslim Education Center.
The topic for this year was “Does God Bless Interreligious Dialogue?” While previous years have focused on joint efforts around social issues, this year was to probe more deeply into the theological understandings of God and God’s people that allow us to hold to certain truth claims while continuing to be in dialogue together.
The time together consisted of a meal, prayer, hearing from two speakers, and then sharing at the tables. Bishop Sally Dyck and Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin both opened the event as the Resident Bishop of the NIC and CIOGC Chairman, respectively. After prayer, the speakers then provided the framework for the evening.
Professor Omer Mozaffar, Interfaith Advocate, Professor of Islamic Studies at Loyola, and lecturer in theology at the University of Chicago, presented first while drawing from the Surah that God made us different that we might know each other. He answered the question “Does God Bless Interreligious Dialogue” with a yes – and more. It is a requirement, he indicated, as it helps us to keep one another accountable in learning.
Rev. Dr. Larry Pickens then shared, combining the poetry of Maya Angelou and the process of Wesleyan sanctification to illustrate how we can create mindfulness of one another that leads to living together in a more socially just way. Rev. Dr. Pickens further used John Wesley’s understanding of dialogue as a way to understand one another better, with such principles as “listen before speaking” and “strive to understand from another’s point of view.” Rev. Dr. Pickens believed that such dialogue would lead to showing more of what all of us have in common, especially in interreligious conversations.
The last hour of the event was devoted to dialogue around the tables and led to many conversations that will be continued together over the coming year.