FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Middle East Peace Initiative
Phone: (202) 203-9883
Friday, May 10, 2013
Faith Leaders Gather for 10th Anniversary of the Jerusalem Interfaith Declaration
New York, NY – From May 14-19, 2013 more than 200 spiritual pilgrims and activists from around the world will travel to the Holy Land as an expression of interfaith solidarity and unity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. These pilgrims are gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the "Jerusalem Declaration" for interfaith cooperation and peace.
The pilgrimage includes conferences in both Jerusalem and Ramallah, courtesy calls to government officials and peacemaking tours to Yad Vashem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Sea of Gallilee. In 2003 the first interfaith pilgrimage of more than 40 during the next 10 years, was held under the banner of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) and culminated in a dramatic expression of interfaith harmony, as representatives of faiths that have often been locked in bitter conflict came forward one by one to lend their signature to the "Jerusalem Declaration" which called for unity among the Abrahamic faiths as a foundation for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. See www.mepi.us.
Archbishop George A. Stallings, Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, a sponsor of the pilgrimage, said: “Ten years ago 120 Christian leaders, as a gesture of removing all barriers to dialogue and understanding proclaimed a new era in which we realize there is only one God and that he has many expressions - particularly through the Abrahamic Faiths.” He added: “Because we all are rooted in Abraham and the faith teachings that came out of his calling from God, our Holy Books have common ground within which we can find solid agreement and positive positions of mutual trust and support - such as the centrality of the family as God's institution and that the role of the Father and Mother is critical in all families.”
The Universal Peace Federation, an interfaith NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, launched the MEPI in 2003 in order to promote peace in that troubled part of the world through "people to people" diplomacy, sometimes called "Track II" diplomacy, utilizing the power of civil society and, especially, faith-based organizations and actors.