Christians and Muslims, both under one roof

Would you lend out your place of worship to any other religion? Or even other denominations  for that matter? Do you think Christ would really want you lend out those things which you claim to worship God with to those that do not worship God?

Franklin – Each Sunday, children gather in the fellowship hall at Faith Presbyterian Church to ponder the lessons of Christianity, among them, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now the church is setting a real-life example for the kids, by opening its Sunday school space to its Muslim neighbors for two of their five daily prayers.

Faith Presbyterian becomes the third satellite prayer center for area Muslims who wish to pray communally but may not be able to get across town to one of the four area mosques. The other prayer sites are at Waukesha Memorial Hospital and the Muslim Student Center on Milwaukee’s east side.

“We’re very grateful to the church,” said Ajaz Qhavi, a Franklin physician and Muslim who worked with church officials on behalf of the Islamic Center of Milwaukee.

Faith Presbyterian’s pastor, the Rev. Deb Bergeson-Graham, welcomed the visitors as an opportunity for her congregation to live their Christian faith.

“I think we’re doing this, not because of what they believe, but because of what we believe,” said Bergeson-Graham. “It’s what Christ would have us do.”

About 150 Muslim families live within a two-mile radius of the church at 3800 W. Rawson Ave., according to Qhavi.

The obligation to pray five times daily – at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset and before bed – is among the five pillars of Islam.

The prayers, which contain verses from the Qur’an and are said in Arabic, can be spoken anywhere – at home, outside, at the airport, said Islamic Center Executive Director Isa Sadlon.

But many Muslims prefer to pray with others, and five daily trips to the mosque can be burdensome. The prayer centers, he said, allow them to meet their obligations closer to home or work.

Since last week, Muslims can gather at Faith Presbyterian for the dawn and nightfall prayers Monday through Friday. The Islamic Center is paying a nominal rental fee to cover church expenses.

“We didn’t want this to be about profit-making,” said Franklin Municipal Judge Fred Klimetz, who sits on the church’s governing Session.

Faith Presbyterian isn’t the first church to open its doors to Milwaukee-area Muslims. Before the Islamic Center purchased its building in 1982, it conducted its Friday congregational prayers in the basement of Kenwood United Methodist Church near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said Islamic Society of Milwaukee President Othman Atta.

Faith Presbyterian’s decision to welcome its Muslim neighbors drew overwhelming – though not universal – support from parishioners, according to Bergeson-Graham.

One older member, who’s been with the church for about a decade, strongly objected.

“I told him, ‘I’m sorry you feel this way, and I hope you continue to worship with us,’ ” she said.

Sadlon wasn’t surprised.

“This has been true throughout the whole history of Islam,” said Sadlon, who was raised Catholic but converted to Islam about 20 years ago.

“We don’t take it personally. Sometimes your worst enemy becomes your best friend. But it takes time.”

via Christians and Muslims, both under one roof – JSOnline

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

6 thoughts on “Christians and Muslims, both under one roof

  1. Yes, I also agree.
    But it is not the church who is contrary to the muslims but the muslims will not accept the church!
    The church is for all people. Not to worship any god that they choose but to worship the only God, which is done only through Jesus Christ the savior of all mankind!…Muslims as well as many sinners refuse to acknowledge the messiah, the savior, the only mediator for earth; and I don’t care who you choose to worship, or what religion you choose to believe, when it comes down to it, only one is right, and only one will prepare you and get you into Heaven!

  2. My church did allow the Episcopals and Anglicans to hold a service in our worship center (we’re Baptists), and we were host to them for almost a year while they were homeless after Gene Robinson was made a bishop in New Hampshire. The night it happened, a group walked out, came to my church, and held an alternative worship service. One of the men there was the bishop from Kenya, whose entire family had been killed because of who he was.

    Anyway … The difference, of course, was that they were standing for a Biblical truth and being turned out by their denomination for it.

    I keep thinking that nothing will surprise me anymore.

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