WISE men from the East bearing gifts of friendship and peace joined one church congregation for their service for Epiphany on Sunday, January 5.

They may not have been led by a star but two Muslim Sheikhs and their families took part in the service at St Mary’s Church, Wenvoe, near Cardiff, as a sign of reconciliation between the two faiths.

Sheikh Abdalla Yassin Mohammed, originally from the Sudan and now a member of the Muslim Council of Wales, and Sheikh Elnayyal Abu Groon, from the Jordan, joined in prayers during the service and received a blessing at communion.

The service was led by Canon Robin Morrison, retired Church and Society Officer for the Church in Wales. Instead of a sermon, Canon Robin interviewed Sheikh Abdallah about shared concerns in a world of religious violence and division.

The visit was part of a project set up by Canon Robin and Sheikh Abdallah to counter Islamic sectarian division. Called The Open Tent, the project aims to promote the “common humanity” of people of the two faiths. It follows a series of 10 joint conferences called Finding a Common Voice between the Church in Wales and the Muslim Council of Wales between 2006-11.

Canon Robin 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.”