by Debbonnaire Kovacs

By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Submitted September 18, 2013
Oakwood University’s Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations is becoming a center for positive interfaith relations. Two current stories exemplify the wide-reaching changes the Center seeks to make in a world where violence between religions is almost expected.
Interfaith Award
On June 24, 2013, CAMR founder and director, Dr. Keith Augustus Burton, received the Rabbi Jeffrey L. Ballon Memorial Interfaith Award at the annual Interfaith Mission Service banquet. Interfaith Mission, a coalition of member congregations of all faiths, has been tearing down walls between races, religions, and classes for over 40 years in the Huntsville area, and is recognized as one of the oldest interfaith organizations in the south. Its banquet celebrates the work of its volunteers and mission, stated on its website as:
“To strengthen and enhance our congregations’ capabilities to meet human needs, participate in the public forum, and promote religious, racial and cultural harmony.”
IMS recognized Oakwood’s CAMR as doing all of the above. An article in, written by Kay Campbell, quotes David Person, who presented Dr. Burton with the award, as saying, “When a Christian minister is recognized for his work in bridging Christian-Muslim understanding with an award named for a Jewish rabbi, you know you’re in the company of a visionary, barrier-breaching organization.”

Award-Winning Documentary

The Office of Diversity at the University of Alabama at Huntsville was co-sponsor for the above banquet, and has also partnered with CAMR to show an award-winning documentary at Oakwood’s McKee Business & Technology Building on Thursday, September 26. The film centers on the lives and work of two enormously influential 12th century philosophers: the great rabbi Maimonides, and Averroes, the famous Muslim thinker, scientist, and religious scholar. Both men were born in Cordoba, Spain, and the society that thrived there on cooperation and peace among these two faiths and Christianity is the subject of the documentary.
Out of Cordoba was produced by Jacob Bender, Jewish himself, who set out after 9/11 shook his faith, to see if peace were possible. His conclusion is that “there is no clash of civilizations between the Muslim world and the West. There is only a clash of ignorance.”
Bender traced the footsteps of Maimonides and Averroes in Spain and then followed the traces of peace around the Mediterranean during the time of the Crusades, when peace between Christian and Muslim seemed unthinkable. He talked to many Jewish, Christian, and Muslim workers for peace today about the part their own faith plays in their determination to seek peace.
Bender will be attending the screening of his film at Oakwood, as well as lecturing that evening. He says that those today (and there are many) who are working hard to build bridges instead of walls, can look back nine centuries to see that it can be done, and gain courage for the struggle.
Out of Cordoba has been screened at the 2010 Amnesty International Arts Festival, the 2010 Global Peace Film Festival, the Jerusalem Jewish International Film Festival in Israel, and more. It has been seen in Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, and the US.
To see more information about both of these stories, visit the websites below. This site includes the 8-minute trailer for Out of Cordoba.