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Why We Opened Our Church to Muslims
In a recent article on Christianity Today's website, Jason Hood raised issues about inviting Muslims to share worship space with Christians. Hood, who is a scholar in residence at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, referred to our flock Heartsong and me. While I couldn't tell exactly where Hood stood on the issue, it seemed that he had decided that our decision to allow Muslims from the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC) to use our Celebration Center for Ramadan prayers was made off hand and without much, if any, theological reflection. Nothing could be further from the truth. My intention is not to refute Hood but to continue this important, maybe even crucial, dialogue.
As a Jesus-following tribe we could not be more evangelical and exclusivist when it comes to Jesus. We are 21st century Jesus freaks, and we fly that flag on T-shirts which many of us wore as we greeted the Muslims who came for Ramadan prayers each night. All we have ever done or will ever do is a witness to Jesus—his teaching, his life, his death and resurrection, and the presence of the Holy Spirit with, in, and through us.
Our Muslim brothers and sisters know this about us because we always speak of Jesus and our love for him, and our love for them because of him, every time we are with them. There was no trading of theologies. They are Muslims; we are Jesus followers; both of us are clear about that. Jesus said people would know we are his disciples by our love for one another, and that is just what is happening with the dear and gracious people of the MIC. They recognize us as people who have been with Jesus.
Allowing MIC to use our Celebration Center for prayer was done in the context of our relationship with them. We had been talking ...1