Archbishop George Stallings, chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, explained why he had led efforts in 2003 to de-emphasize the cross as a symbol of Jesus' triumph and resurrection and replace it with the symbol of the crown of victory.
Alluding to the Gospel hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross," Archbishop Stallings
explained, "We realized that the cross was, in fact, a stumbling block for our Jewish brothers, a symbol that has been a contradiction to those who have not accepted our faith, and we exchanged the cross for a crown."
One of Israel's most respected rabbis and a signer of the Jerusalem Declaration in 2003, told the gathering, "My feeling about this ceremony, is that it is so wonderful to hear how Archbishop
[Stallings] has repented for the actions of those who have misused the cross.
In Judaism we give a high place to those who admit their mistakes.
The two embraced on the stage and joined in the signature ceremony of MEPI
, the mixing of waters from the representatives of many faith traditions.
Participants included Archbishop Stallings
, as well as Eliya Kranz, representing Judaism; Imam Dawud Assad of the United States; Ven Bessho Keisuke, representing Buddhism; Rev. Young Shik An, Chair of UPF-Europe; Dr. Abraham Shalom Haim; and Sheik Ali Birani, a leader of the Druze religion [pictured left to right in the photo above].