Our time living in Jerusalem was an enriching experience of relating to Christians of different traditions. The church which I inherited as Rector was definitely Evangelical and tended to keep itself to itself. I wasn’t at all happy with it doing this and made a point of reaching out to the many churches in the Old City. We lived sandwiched between the Armenian Orthodox and the Latin (RC) Patriarchate. I reached out to both. I had an enjoyable lunch with the (RC) priest of the Hebrew Catholic Church and met up with the Armenian Patriarch. Then there were the Greek Orthodox (I was fascinated by observing their Communion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), the Greek Catholics, the Ethiopian Orthodox (that was a rich experience of a totally different culture). I almost lost count of the ancient “denominations” I’d never heard of. It was great to join in Unity Week led by the Roman Catholics in the biblical Upper Room and to join in two weeks of daily prayers for peace in a different “denomination” each day. England seems a bit monochrome by comparison! We may have certain – even serious – disagreements with some other denominations but we need to reach out in love to the people involved in them.
We had some fascinating experiences of relating to the Jewish Community, but also to our Muslim neighbours. I have been part of a group of clergy which dialogues with the Muslims at the local university. I have attended several of these sessions and been impressed watching the devout young Muslims at their worship. I firmly believe that Jesus is the only Saviour but I also believe it is important to reach out in peace and love to our brothers and sisters in other faith groups, and so in a small way to counter the suspicion, fear and violence which characterises the attitudes of some towards those of other faiths.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction