Reactivating the Council on Interreligious Cooperation in Macedonia

The Dialogue Institute of Philadelphia contributed $2,300 to assist the dormant Council on Inter-religious Cooperation in Macedonia resume some of its activities. Having facilitated the creation of the Council beginning in 2002, which consisted of major representatives of five historical churches and religi-ous communities in the recently created country—the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Islamic Religious Community, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, and the Jewish Community—the leaders of the Dialogue Institute assisted them in periodic meetings for the first five or six years. Gradually, however, meetings of the Council took place more and more infrequently, so that it seemed that its work might cease altogether.

On the initiative of the United Methodist pastor, Mihail Cekov, a meeting did take place in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, on June 17, 2014. Present at the meeting were the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Stefan; Hadži Suleiman Redžepi, Reis ul ulema of the Islamic Community; Bishop Kiro Stojanov of the Catholic Church; the above-mentioned Rev. Mihail Cekov; and Berta Romano-Nikoliќ, president of the Jewish Community.

The agenda of the meeting consisted of (1) discussions of challenges meeting all religious communi-ties, namely, the high cost of utilities and telephone, for which it was decided to form a joint committee to negotiate better prices from the providers; (2) conversation regarding the general religious situation in Mace-donia, including the challenges facing young people and other themes; and (3) undertaking joint visits by the Council members to Štip, Berovo, and Strumica in July and in late September/early October to Tetovo, Gostivar, Ohrid, and Struga.

The proceedings took place in a friendly atmosphere, with the satisfaction that all representatives at-tended the meeting. Cekov thanked the Dialogue Institute for its funding of these efforts to resume the im-portant contacts in a conflict-ridden area, where there is often little enthusiasm for ecumenical cooperation.

Paul Mojzes, professor