This year, the “Good News” series has highlighted the creative ways in which ministries in the Synod of the Sun have reached out to their congregations and communities. This story is about a mosque reaching out to a Presbyterian church in appreciation for a relationship that has developed over several years, praising what they have in common rather than lamenting what separates them. The joyful photo that captured the moment brought smiles to faces within the Canyon Creek community, who received it through the church’s internal communications.
“Interfaith at its best!” said member Melinda Hunt.
The moment did not happen out of thin air. It is a culmination of collaboration between leaders of EPIC and Canyon Creek, whose mission statement reads: “We believe our world is in desperate need of a church that makes relationships and reconciliation not just a priority, but a way of life.”
The friendship began with the breaking of bread.
“Early in my time as the pastor of Canyon Creek, Imam Nadim Bashir and I met for lunch, beginning a relationship between Canyon Creek and EPIC,” said the Rev. Andy Odom. “Since then, God has continued to be present as we learn not just about what our differences are, but what makes us alike. It is a privilege to have them as neighbors.”
The two congregations have had opportunities to learn about each religion’s practices and beliefs. Odom and Megan Flores, the church’s director of mission and outreach, attended an Eid dinner, which ends the monthlong fast of
Ramadan. Members of the church and Islamic Center, along with a Jewish group, took part in an interfaith book study. On another occasion, Muslim children got to experience American Easter traditions, such as hunting eggs. And the two faith communities have organized donations for a food pantry.
“More and more, our world is becoming less able culturally, politically and religiously to relate to one another,” Flores said. “In order to be the body of Christ, we can’t live side by side without starting to invest in each other.”
For the church, and for the world that God so loves, the building of relationships amid increasing challenges offer hope for a new year.