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Wise men from the east

24 January 2014

THESE "wise men" - two Muslim sheikhs - came bearing gifts of friendship and peace to the congregation of St Mary's, Wenvoe, near Cardiff, in Llandaff diocese, at Epiphany. They also brought their families to take part in the Epiphany service, as a sign of reconciliation between the two faiths.

Sheikh Abdallah Yassin Mohammed (right in photo), originally from Sudan and now a member of the Muslim Council of Wales, and Sheikh Elnayyal Abu Groon (left), from Jordan, joined in prayers during the service and received a blessing at communion.

The service was led by Canon Robin Morrison, a retired Church and Society Officer for the Church in Wales; and, instead of a sermon, Canon Morrison interviewed Sheikh Abdallah about shared concerns in a world of religious violence and division.

The visit was part of a project, the Open Tent, set up by the two of them to counter Islamic sectarian division. The project seeks to promote the "common humanity" of people of the two faiths. It follows a series of ten joint conferences between the Church in Wales and the Muslim Council in Wales.

"Epiphany celebrates the Magi, the wise ones - scientists, astrologers, and cosmologists - as they sought for new meaning and hope, enlightenment and understanding, in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem," Canon Morrison said. "This was a good context for the representatives of Islam to meet Christians and share a mutual concern for new understanding, peace, and love between people of all faiths."

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