In faithful response to the United Church of Christ commitment to interfaith relations, our Conference has drafted a statement in support of the building of a Mosque in Murrieta, California. Here is the content of that statement:
August 2, 2010
United Church of Christ
Southern California Nevada Conference
The United Church of Christ, Southern California Nevada Conference, representing 136 affiliated churches, hereby offers its support to the Interfaith Council of Temecula and Murrieta Valley and our brothers and sisters members of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in their efforts to build a Mosque in the city of Murrieta, California.
We thank all those voices that have spoken and supported the right of the Murrieta Muslim community to provide a house of worship for their members. The United Church of Christ General Synod has spoken twice on relations with people of other religions and the traditions they represent: with the Jewish community (1987) and with the Muslim community (1989). In 1999 the General Synod requested that the church study and respond to the document of the National Council of Churches of Christ “Interfaith Relations and the Churches.” In addition, The United Church of Christ has participated for decades in the Commission on Interfaith Relations.
In July 2005, the General Synod adopted “A Study Resource on Interreligious Relations for the United Church of Christ.” This resource states that,
“We are called as faithful members of the United Church of Christ to deeper engagement with people of other religious traditions. For some this will take the form of dialogue for understanding. Others will choose to engage in cooperative projects in local communities. Some will join in witness on issues of social or political significance. Still others will encounter interfaith relations primarily in pastoral commitment to families and friends whose lives encompass more than one religious tradition. We recognize that in order to build deeper relationships we must be willing to face both responsibility and risk.”
“First, if we are to honor our religious neighbors, it is essential that we demonstrate the trust of being honest about who we are and what we believe. Trust is built when individuals can learn, over time, to reveal even those aspects of themselves which they fear will engender anger or anxiety. Genuine relationship, built on mutual trust, then enables partners to give and receive critique when appropriate. By risking the trust which allows honest engagement in affirmation and admonition, we honor our partners and remain faithful to our deepest convictions”. (For more information go to http://www.ucc.org/ecumenical/interfaith-relations.html).
We are painfully aware that, all too often, we allow fear and misunderstanding to guide many of our actions and reactions, using our faith as an excuse for discrimination and religious bigotry. These actions have often resulted in disastrous consequences. However, as Christians, we are called to love our neighbors and to welcome all of God’s children. Our faith calls us to engage in new relationships and new ways of connecting with one another.
Therefore, in accordance with our mandate found in our Christian faith and actions of the United Church of Christ General Synods, we offer our heartfelt support to the Murrieta Muslim community in its effort to build a Mosque and to freely worship as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Above all, we pray for love, grace and peace among all of God’s children.
Rev. Felix C. Villanueva, Southern California Nevada Conference Minister
Mrs. Ann Feaver, Chair, Board of Directors, Southern California Nevada Conference
Rev. Dr. Paul Tellstrom, Moderator, Southern California Nevada Conference