Covenant between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago

Approved by the Presbytery Assembly on June 18, 2013, this covenant is the first covenant of its kind in the Presbyterian denomination nationally and, for Fourth Church, an expression of both a trusting friendship that has been fostered since 2006 and our hope for an abiding relationship in the future.

As communities of faith, we, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the  Presbytery of Chicago, believe that our religions are the rich wellsprings from which we draw  our commitments to serve, support, and benefit one another. Our religions teach us that God is  the creator and sustainer of the world and that responding faithfully to God requires us to  commit to serve God’s creation.

Responding to God requires us to strive together for the common good: the care of the earth for  the generations to come, the pursuit of justice for all and the protection of our rights to practice  and express our faiths as best we can. Responding to God requires us to take to heart a  genuine concern for the well-being of each other. Only when our neighbors’ well-being  becomes our own concern can we truly be faithful to God. So, consistent with our religious  teachings, we commit to stand together for those who are vulnerable and to speak up with those  whose voices are not heard. We commit to teach our children compassion for those whose  struggles are different from our own. We promise to become a force for good for each other  and for others.

In order to achieve this vision we recognize that our two communities in metropolitan Chicago  have much work to do. With sincere effort, we commit ourselves

  • to deepen our understanding of each other’s religions
  • to recognize that we do not agree on all things
  • to model respect for each other’s religions
  • to work together on issues of human equality and social justice, consistent with our  religious values.

Together we place our trust and hope in God, that God will bless and guide our efforts and that God will turn our efforts into a blessing for us.

More information about this covenant is posted online on the Presbytery of Chicago website.

Muslim-Presbyterian Covenant Reading

The Muslim-Presbyterian Covenant was read aloud during morning worship services at Fourth Church on Sunday, January 19.

Sharing Something Sacred
By Jim Kulich, member, Fourth Presbyterian Church

I recently had the honor of joining Karen Danielson, Board Secretary of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, in presenting to the Fourth Church community a new covenant established between the Council and the Presbytery of Chicago. This Muslim-Presbyterian Covenant, which emerged last year after much reflection and deliberation among all involved, recognizes that our faith communities are fundamentally stronger if we relate to each other in intentional ways. The covenant employs some beautiful language, stating that “we believe that our religions are the wellspring from which we draw our commitments to serve, support, and benefit one another” and “only when our neighbor’s well-being becomes our own concern can we be truly faithful to God.”  

This is not some sort of superficial feel-good document. The covenant explicitly recognizes that much work remains to be done and affirms the fact that our communities will not always agree. However, the covenant sounds a strong and hopeful call for the good we can do together because of the many common values our faith communities share.

Our presentation of the covenant during our Sunday morning worship services on January 19 was both simple and profound. Ms. Danielson and I alternated in reading the covenant to the congregation, following a pattern designed to help everyone appreciate why she, a Muslim woman, was present among us during our time of Christian worship, and through the passages I read, I was able to convey a clear sense that this newly enhanced relationship aims to make our Christian faith commitment stronger.  

On a personal level, the experience was moving and gratifying, representing a coming of age of sorts for work that many of us have been doing here at Fourth Church and throughout the Presbytery. Comments I received from my fellow congregants were fascinating. Many expressed appreciation for everyone’s efforts to find and celebrate common ground. Some wondered about similar agreements we might pursue with other faith communities. Others commented on the tone of the document, sensing that it struck a good balance between optimism and the reality that working together entails challenges. Everyone seemed moved in some way. We even generated some good, spontaneous Presbyterian applause in one service. I believe that God was with us in a new way that day and that this was truly a sacred moment very much worth sharing.

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