Handcrafted crosses were presented as gifts during the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations report to the 223rd General Assembly.

Handcrafted crosses were presented as gifts during the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations report to the 223rd General Assembly. —Photo by: Michael Whitman

Quick and grateful approval was extended by the 223rd General Assembly Wednesday afternoon to actions recommended by its Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. It was the first Assembly committee to complete its work in St. Louis.

During its deliberations of the previous three days, the committee had an opportunity to interact with representatives of churches and faiths from five continents and with spokespersons from such organizations as the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., Christian Churches Together, the International Council of Community Churches, the Islamic Society of North America, the National Council of Synagogues and the Anti-Defamation League.

Each of the committee’s guests received a hand-crafted pocket cross as a gift.

The committee reviewed and endorsed the ongoing work of the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR). It also endorsed a prospectus for the third round of dialogue between the PC(USA) and the Episcopal Church in America and referred another prospectus for the ninth round in the dialogue between U.S. Reformed churches and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the 224th General Assembly (2020).

An overture from the Presbytery of Carlisle, On America's Interfaith Context and the Church's Challenge, approved by GA223, directs the church to:

  • Affirm and embrace the religious diversity of the U.S.A. and to love all our neighbors – including those of other faiths – as we love ourselves.

  • Condemn all religiously inspired and motivated violence, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech.

  • Reaffirm particular General Assembly positions on interreligious relations.

  • Seek reconciliation with religious groups with whom Presbyterians and their partners have exchanged hateful words and unjust actions.

  • Encourage presbyteries to create interfaith relations committees or task forces to promote interreligious relations, dialogue and understanding.

  • Encourage congregations to engage in interfaith conversations and partnerships in their communities.

  • Direct the stated clerk of the General Assembly to encourage congregations to use the resources of the Office of Interfaith Relations to promote education about other religions.

A commissioners’ resolution adopted by the Assembly directs the PC(USA) to begin to explore developing a covenant relationship with the Gereja Maseh Injili di Minahasa (GMIM), an Indonesian-language communion of the Reformed Protestant tradition.