Pilgrim Faith has been engaged with the local Muslim community for a number of years. We’ve had speakers and programs going back at least 25 years. We had Muslim families in our preschool and have welcomed them to our Bible study and food pantry. In recent years we have very intentionally engaged together in offering meals for the homeless and others in the community and in interfaith dialogue. We have grown in our understanding and appreciation of each other.
Some have asked why we do this. We do it because Jesus calls us to “love our neighbor” and Muslims are a substantial portion of our local neighbors. Because of cultural and sometimes language barriers it has been difficult for some to make friends with the Muslims who live in our midst. We have reached out in all the ways I named above to try to build bridges so all of us who live together can get to know each other. We have learned how very much alike we are!
The recent political climate has created a backlash of hatred and violence against American Muslims. We’ve heard our Muslim friends talk about their fear and our children’s classmates worry their families will be separated or forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known. It has been heart breaking to watch them go through this.
Several Pilgrim Faith members recently invited others who are concerned to come together and discuss how we can offer our support. We drafted a letter of support which many of you signed which we have delivered to The Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. Some of us went and stood with other around the Mosque during their main weekly prayer service one Friday to offer our care and support.
We’ve done all this because God and Jesus admonish us to care for the foreigners in our midst, the strangers, the outcast, the persecuted and everyone. Jesus embraced Gentiles and Samaritans and others who were not of his own religion and extended God’s love to them. Very simply, we do it because it is what Jesus did and what he calls us to do. We hope to be the presence of Christ in all we do.
Pastor Peggy McClanahan – March 2017