Friendship and peace at Epiphany service

(l-r)Sheikh Elnayyal Abu Groon, Canon Robin Morrison and Sheikh Abdalla Yassin Mohammed at St Mary's Church, Wenvoe

Two Muslim sheikhs were at a Welsh church on Sunday to take part in an Epiphany service as a sign of friendship and peace with Christians.

The service at St Mary's Church, Wenvoe, near Cardiff, was joined by Dr Abdalla Yassin Mohammed, originally from the Sudan and now a member of the Muslim Council of Wales, and Sheikh Elnayyal Abu Groon, from Jordan.

Instead of a sermon, Canon Robin Morrison interviewed Dr Mohammed about shared concerns in a world of religious violence and division.

Sheikh Abu Groon joined in prayers during the service and received a blessing at communion.

The two sheikhs and their families were at the service as part of the Open Tent project set up by Canon Morrison and Dr Mohammed to counter Islamic sectarian division.

The project aims to promote the "common humanity" of people of the two faiths and follows a series of 10 joint conferences called Finding a Common Voice between the Church in Wales and the Muslim Council of Wales that took place between 2006 and 2011.

Canon Morrison said, "The epiphany message of a God who manifests the nature of God as Love calls us to take seriously 'our common humanity in and under God' and to work in practical ways to achieve that vision.

"Epiphany celebrates the magi, the wise ones – scientists, astrologers and cosmologists - following the light of a star, as they sought for new meaning and hope, enlightenment and understanding in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem.

"This was a good context for representatives of Islam to meet with Christians and share a mutual concern for new understanding, peace and love between people of all faiths, within all faiths and in relation to the main challenges of violence and conflict facing the world in 2014."