You may have seen some of the news coverage this past week reporting a public meeting out in Brookfield where the issue was the building of an Islamic mosque in that community. One national conservative group is leading the way in opposing this construction while the local interfaith clergy alliance along with the Brookfield mayor are in favor of it.
I am saddened when I read some of the inflammatory words being used in this debate but at the same time I am grateful…grateful for the long-standing relationship we have had with our local mosque, The Islamic Society of Milwaukee, located on 13th & Layton. They were one of the founding faith communities and signers of the covenant that created our Southeast Clergy Association. One of the “holiest moments” I have ever experienced was the night of 9-11 when about sixty of us went from our church to the mosque to pray alongside our brothers and sisters.
We had already been in a covenantal relationship before that horrific day so it was only natural to reach out then and to continue to find ways to connect ever since. There is a group of young women from the Islamic Society who regularly serve at our Bread & Jam meal program and just last September the Islamic Society hosted an intriguing interfaith dialogue on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of 9-11. Because the Islamic Society of Milwaukee has been a fixture in our community for a while now we tend to take their existence for granted…just like any other church building in our neighborhood.
In late April our Southeast Clergy group, along with the Islamic Society, will be reviving the Youth Interfaith Service Retreat. This is a great opportunity for our middle school and high school youth to spend some time both in conversation and working alongside youth of a different faith. I think it is opportunities like this that help us all realize we have far more in common than whatever may set us apart.
For myself, I treasure my connections to the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and especially to Ziad Hamden, their longtime representative to our clergy group. I hope the good folks of Brookfield will prevail and that they will welcome this new faith community in their midst.
“I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham will lay down their swords forever…” (from “Jerusalem” by Steve Earle)