Rick Warren to Speak at Muslim Convention in D.C.

( [email protected] ) Jul 02, 2009 01:00 PM EDT
“Purpose Driven” megachurch pastor Rick Warren will be spending his Fourth of July speaking to up to 40,000 Muslims in the nation’s capital.
The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., speaks about his relationship with Dr. Ralph D. Winter during a memorial service at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, Calif., on Sunday, June 28, 2009. (Photo: Hudson Tsuei)

“Purpose Driven” megachurch pastor Rick Warren will be spending his Fourth of July speaking to up to 40,000 Muslims in the nation’s capital.

Warren, whose network of pastors spans over 160 countries, is expected to speak during the main session of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s 46th annual convention, which has as its theme “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

“Considered the cornerstone of the convention, the Saturday Evening Main Session is not to be missed,” organizers state in the program for the four-day convention, which starts Friday.

“Prominent, sought after scholars will address the theme of the convention at large,” they add. “The session is both relevant and meaningful to Islam in North America.”

Since Sayyid Syeed, a longtime leader with ISNA who focuses on building the organization's interfaith ties, invited Warren to speak during a White House gathering they attended last year, the Southern California pastor has refrained from making any public comments regarding the invitation.

But Syeed told The Indianapolis Star, the largest newspaper in Indiana, where ISNA is based, that Warren “realizes that it is equally critical for him to work with people of other faiths."

Syeed has also noted that he and Warren have worked together on projects fighting malaria and advocating for people with HIV and AIDS.

Aside from leading one of the most prominent churches in America, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., Warren has spearheaded a number of other movements, such as the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack the five “global giants” of poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, and illiteracy. His global alliance of pastors, the Purpose Driven Network, meanwhile spans 162 countries and hundreds of denominations.

The Islamic Society, an umbrella association for tens of thousands of Muslims, has reportedly worked for years to persuade leaders of other faiths to attend its convention – a massive family reunion that draws about 30,000 people.

This year’s ISNA convention will be held at the Washington DC Convention Center and will feature some 300 speakers, including Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

ISNA is also hoping for a special appearance by President Obama, whose recent speech in Cairo “highlighted the importance of [outreach to the Muslim American community] in the current administration," according to convention organizers.

The Islamic Society says the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Justice will be among the agencies represented during a session Saturday on “Government Outreach to the Muslim American Community.”

The convention will conclude Monday night.