Promoting Muslim-Christian Understanding
Paul McKenna of Scarboro Missions is recognized for his contribution in furthering understanding between Muslims and Christians
One of the most successful programs of the National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee has been its annual Recognition Dinner in which a Muslim and a Christian are recognized for their contribution in furthering understanding between Muslims and Christians in Canada. Last year, Paul McKenna of the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Desk was one of those recognized.
Talat Muinnidin, Muslim representative of the National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee, presents an interfaith award to Paul McKenna of the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Desk.
Paul's interfaith career spans more than 25 years. He teaches, writes and consults in the fields of world religions and interfaith dialogue. Paul collaborated with Scarboro Missions and a number of artists and scholars in creating Scarboro's Golden Rule poster. Published only seven years ago, the poster is making an international impact.
Currently Paul is the Coordinator of the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Desk. Says Paul, "I'm profoundly grateful that Scarboro Missions has provided me with an opportunity and an environment to live out the things that I believe in."
Dialogue with the Muslim community has been a key focus of Scarboro's interfaith work.
For example, during the 2003 World Youth Days in Toronto, Scarboro Missions and the Toronto Muslim community collaborated in organizing the largest gathering of Christian and Muslim youth in Canadian history.
At the recognition dinner, Raheel Raza of the Muslim community was also honoured. Raheel is an author, media commentator and interfaith activist. She has been involved in a number of Scarboro's interfaith events.
Formed more than 15 years ago, the National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee is a Canada-wide organization whose membership is comprised of several Muslim and Christian organizations. These include the Council of the Muslim Community of Canada, the Canadian Islamic Congress, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Council of Imams, the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Churches (including the Associate Secretary for Faith and Witness).
The Committee seeks to be a forum of exchange in which official representatives of the Muslim and Christian communities can explore mutual concerns. The Committee meets five times each year to discuss areas of sensitivity or conflict as well as issues of common interest. Although the committee cannot speak for any of its member organizations, it does urge its various representatives to return to their organizations with a position or policy and have their organizations act on the position taken by the Committee.
Some of the activities that the Committee has urged its member organizations to support include:
- issuing of statements to Canadian government officials against the war in Iraq;
- advocacy for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Palestine;
- advocacy for the poor and homeless in Canada;
- collaboration with the United Church of Canada in the preparation of its groundbreaking document on Muslim-Christian understanding, That We May Know Each Other.
To download this document and accompanying study guide, go to:
In the past, the National Muslim-Christian Liaison Committee has sponsored projects such as Families Meeting Families, in which Muslim and Christian families were paired so that they could get to know each other and their faith traditions through social interaction. The Committee has also organized a tour across Canada by senior Muslim and Christian representatives to encourage the formation of local Muslim-Christian dialogue groups.
Scarboro Missions receives peace medal
Mussie Hailu (right), board chair of the Interfaith Peacebuilding Initiative in Ethiopia presents the 2006 Golden Rule Peace Medal and mounted Golden Rule Poster to Dr. Hizkias Assefa, founder and co-coordinator of the African Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Network in Nairobi. Dr. Assefa has conducted peacebuilding training seminars and workshops in more than 50 countries of the world. He has lectured on reconciliation, peacemaking and conflict resolution in universities in Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, and Latin America.
The interfaith work of Scarboro Missions is making a splash in parts of Africa. Some of this activity has to do with Scarboro's Golden Rule Poster. And some of it has to do with a man named Mussie Hailu, chairman of the board of The Interfaith Peacebuilding Initiative, a nationwide organization in Ethiopia. Hailu is convinced that the practice of the Golden Rule is the path to world peace. And he is committed to spreading that message across Africa and beyond. The Interfaith Peacebuilding Initiative has established a Goodwill Ambassador Award which is awarded annually to an Ethiopian for his/her efforts in the fields of peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue and community service.
In 2006, the award accompanied by a Golden Rule Peace Medal went to Dr. Hizkias Assefa, a scholar, professor and international specialist in peacebuilding, mediation and conflict resolution.
Scarboro Missions was pleased to learn that it too had been awarded a Golden Rule Peace Medal for 2006 by this Ethiopian interfaith organization. A letter from the Interfaith Peacebuilding Initiative, written by Mussie Hailu, stated:
"...We bestow this upon you on the occasion of celebration of the International Day of Peace of the United Nations in appreciation of your outstanding contribution in promoting a culture of peace and interfaith harmony in the world through the teaching of the Golden Rule. Thank you for designing the Golden Rule Poster which is now serving many interfaith and peace organizations worldwide in their efforts toward global peace. We look forward to working with you to make the Golden Rule a universal principle of life for all humanity."
Mussie Hailu is working to establish regional Golden Rule Ambassador Awards around the world. Last spring, Scarboro Missions responded to Hailu's invitation by presenting an Ambassador award to Rev. Leslie Mezei. Rev. Mezei is a multifaith educator and Holocaust survivor who has made an enormous contribution to interfaith work in the Toronto area.
Hailu has translated the Scarboro Golden Rule poster into Ahmaric, the native language of Ethiopia. This year, he plans to distribute 10,000 copies of the poster across Ethiopia. He also plans to give a copy of the poster to 54 heads of state in Africa for use in their efforts to promote peace.
Scarboro Missions salutes Mussie Hailu, peacemaker, bridge builder and a truly global citizen, who walks in the spirit of the Golden Rule.