Published on January 13, 2010 by Philip Poole  
Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-03-25

Finding commonality in the faith community is important to interfaith understanding Mutual acceptance of “our common humanity” should be the foundation for interfaith community, according to theologian Graham Walker.       

Walker is associate dean of Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta. He presented Samford University’s annual Auchmuty Lecture on Congregational Leadership March 25.       

“We find new communities of faith all around us today,” Walker said. “Remember that differences do not negate our commitment to commonality.’"     

Before interfaith community can develop, however, it has to begin at the “local level.” The community of faith must work together to “relieve the unnecessary suffering that afflicts so many in our world today,” he said.       

Noting that Baptists in the South often resist interfaith discussions, Walker said the “call to care is an agenda that Baptist communities can and should wholeheartedly affirm.”      

“There is hope, and the hope begins not with the scholars but begins with you in your local congregations and your place of religious community,” Walker added. “People who care about suffering are people who are motivated by strong religious conviction.”      

The path of “shared action” is what brings the interfaith community together, he noted, using examples such as the interfaith response to the 9/11 attacks. What he called “the face of the suffering ‘other’” can unite the community.       

Walker encouraged the audience of students, faculty and community guests to accept the challenge “as you leave this place. Be connected. Make friends. Be alert to the ‘other’ amongst you.”      

The lecture was cosponsored by Birmingham’s Shades Crest Baptist Church, where Auchmuty was pastor for 27 years, and Samford’s Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence. The Auchmuty Fund for Congregational Leadership was started five years ago by friends of Auchmuty, who is a 1957 Samford graduate. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.