A new effort is unfolding among Christians and Muslims to build additional bridges at a time when President Obama has made reaching out to the Islamic world a national priority.
"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity," Obama said in a major speech in Cairo in June. "And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
Southern California religious leaders said they viewed the president's speech as an affirmation of their work. The next step will unfold in the months ahead when local churches and mosques will be asked to work together in a new educational program called Standing Together.
A keystone of the new interfaith program is its emphasis on not seeking converts, a question that came up several times during a talk Guibord gave in Westwood on Saturday before 35 people of various faiths. "This is not an opportunity for proselytizing," she assured the group.
She recounted the Biblical story of the patriarch Abraham, who kept all four sides of his tent open in the desert so that he could see travelers approaching from any direction. He would offer them hospitality, food and shelter. "I like to think of the work . . . as Abraham's tent where we keep all four sides open," Guibord said.