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Pentecostals Needed: New NCC Director Partners with Pentecostals

 

TR: Dr Kireopoulos, for our readers’ information, you and I along with some special teammates from a broad spectrum of Christian denominations, are working on a number of pressing issues of contemporary concern. These often involve complexities in Christian-Muslim relations. Additionally, Christian understanding of the Middle East is frequently in the forefront. Without speaking prematurely, could you perhaps give our readers a general synopsis of your impressions on these issues?

Dr K: This year is the commemoration the 60th anniversary of the birth of the modern State of Israel. It is also the 60th anniversary of the displacement and marginalization of the Palestinians. As Christians and as Americans we should be concerned with Israel’s peace and security, as well as with justice for the Palestinians. True peace in the region must include justice for Palestinians as well as security for Israelis. American Christians should be praying and working for this just peace in the Middle East, as well as pushing our government to be actively involved in the peace process. Only the USA can move this forward, especially since on the ground a viable two-state solution looks less and less likely unless a dramatic shift takes place. Conditions in the Occupation are deplorable, and morally speaking, we must address them. Admittedly, we are dealing with an exceeding complex and intricate situation. But Christians are compelled to pray, work, and advocate for a just and secure peace for both the Israelis and Palestinians. Whatever the eventual solution, if it is to work well or have lasting impact, it must include the minimum of these two essential components. And another thing we mustn’t forget, especially as Christians, is that there are historic Christian communities among the Palestinians, whose presence is diminishing as the conflict drags on. We need to ask ourselves how we can be a source of strength for them.

 

TR: Is there anything you would like to add to our discussion, Dr Kireopoulos?

Dr K: Just this, Dr. Richie: I would emphasize to everyone the value of being at the table! I want to assure non-member communities that the NCC is really all about the Gospel—about Christ and Christian community and unity, and about witness to the world in terms of peace and justice. I especially want to invite Pentecostals to explore ways their faith can enhance their witness and work in the public square. I also encourage churches not familiar with the Pentecostal and Evangelical traditions not to isolate or stereotype them as “outsiders,” but to appreciate how great their contribution can be to the ecumenical movement. Accordingly, we all ought to reach out and thereby “encourage one another and build up each other” in our faith.

TR: Thank you, Dr. Kireopoulos. We appreciate you granting The Pneuma Review this exclusive interview regarding some of the most important inter-religious dynamics on the national scene today. I’m sure our readers and staff members will be remembering you and your work in their prayers.

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Category: Fall 2008, Ministry

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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