Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Commission on Peace
May 3, 2002
                                                                                               For Immediate Release
Weekday Contact:
Alexis Rice, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rachael Lewis, Washington National Cathedral
Weekend Contact
Jim Vitarello, Episcopal Diocese of Washington


The Alexandria Declaration, an unprecedented agreement signed by the top Muslim, Jewish, and Christian religious leaders in the Holy Land, will be the focus of a major interfaith prayer service for peace in the Middle East at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m.  Plans are in progress for a similar service at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem at the same time.

The Declaration was signed after months of negotiations.  The statement says “killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name” and called for an end to the bloodshed.  The leaders agreed that “ The Holy Land is Holy to all three of our faiths” and the integrity of the Holy Places must be respected and freedom of worship ensured for all.  They urged implementation of the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations and “the lifting of restrictions.”  The signers called for “a religiously sanctioned cease-fire” and they committed themselves to continue a joint quest for peace.

The fourteen signers include the leading Jewish rabbis, Muslim sheiks, and Christian patriarchs and bishops of the Holy Land.  In a region where religious prerogatives are jealously guarded and agreement is rare, such broad support at the highest levels is virtually unknown.  It is the result of careful one-on-one negotiations by a team from the Coventry (England) Cathedral International Centre for Reconciliation (Cross of  Nails).  The Archbishop of Canterbury was the moderator.

The May 5 service here, endorsing the Alexandria Declaration, seeks to pray to God for peace and justice in the troubled Middle East; to encourage the Jerusalem leaders to move forward together in their work;  and to enhance interfaith relationships here.

Some of the participants will include Rabbi Jack Luxemburg, President of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington; Imam Shaker El-Sayed, Secretary General of the Muslim American Society); Bishop Felton Edwin May, United Methodist Church Bishop of Greater Washington; Rabbi Scott Sperling, Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Council, Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Bishop Allen Bartlett, Assisting Bishop, Diocese of Washington; and Dean Nathan Baxter, Dean of Washington Cathedral.

The service will include an Islamic call to prayer, a Jewish shofar call, and two children’s choirs. The service is sponsored by the Middle East Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and cosponsored or endorsed by 17 other Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious groups.