Interfaith Advocates Cap a Busy 2007 With Thanksgiving

Zamboanga City – MEMBERS of an inter-religious group in the city committed themselves to strengthen their interfaith solidarity and cooperation, citing the many commonalities between different their faiths – Muslims, Catholics and evangelicals.

At the yearend “Solidarity Thanksgiving” hosted by the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP) last December 29, its convenors reiterated the importance of standing on a common ground of their respective doctrinal teachings.

Fr. Angel C. Calvo, the group’s lead convenor, cited the recently released open letter and call of Muslim religious leaders and scholars to Christian religious leaders around the world, The letter clearly explained some of the common religious scriptural teachings in Islam and Christianity.

Fr. Calvo quoted two important points cited in the letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars, which he said pointed to the commandment “to love God” and the commandment with respect to “love of the neighbour.”

He explained the belief in one God and the love of the neighbor is a good ground by which Muslims and Christians in this city can live harmoniously and strengthen efforts to work for peace and development in the community.

“This is a good jumping point were Muslims and Christians in this city could work hand in hand and strengthen our commitment towards peace-building,” he said to some 60 peace advocates at the Azotea Hall of Garden Orchid Hotel, this city.

IRSMP convenor for evangelicals Rev. Ronald Bilang echoed the need for interfaith understanding as key to successful and harmonious peace-making.

Muslim representative Professor Alih Aiyub cited the importance of peace greetings in Islam. “When I said Assalamualaikum (peace be with you), it means that you don’t have to doubt me. It’s a statement that you are secured,” he told the group.

During the same event, organizations and agencies helping the IRSMP and Peace Advocates Zamboanga in the recent Week of Peace observance were also recognized with plaques of appreciation. They include the local halfway house Akay Kalinga Center, Commission on Human Rights – IX, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education – Zamboanga City Division and partner schools including the Maria Clara L. Lobregat National High School, Sangali National High School, Southcom National High School, Zamboanga City High School – Main, Zamboanga National High School (West) and Western Mindanao State University.

Meanwhile, last December 15, PAZ also hosted a thanksgiving party dubbed as “Paz Salamat” to more than a hundred young people who also assisted PAZ and IRSMP in peace week activities. This year, young people were involved in different volunteer work particularly assisting in preparatory activities.

The solidarity thanksgiving is a year-ender activity for the IRSMP, during which Fr. Calvo (who was also tendered a birthday treat by the group) also presented the special highlights and activities undertaken throughout year 2007.

Among the special highlights undertaken by the IRSMP were special forum in response to the situation of the Sulu crisis, another forum in solidarity with the International Women Mission to Basilan, and one with the local government leaders, military and police officers during the Week of Peace activities among others.

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