Interfaith forum celebrates King, educates Green Street audience

Interfaith forum celebrates King, educates Green Street audience
January 21
00:00 2016
Photos by Timothy Ramsey
Member of audience asks question during forum at Green Street United Methodist Church on Sunday.

By Timothy Ramsey

For The Chronicle

Amid all of the negative press and the recent activity of radicals, members of the Islamic faith are trying to adjust the jaded views of their religion. To help reverse what some are calling “Islamaphobia,” the Green Street United Methodist Church held an interfaith worship service that included a forum discussion that was meant to educate those on the Islamic faith as well as celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The guest speakers were Imam Khalid Griggs of Community Mosque and Rabbi Andrew Ettin of Temple Israel in Salisbury.  Griggs said that he feels as though forums like this are necessary to educate people that what they see on the news is not what the Islamic faith stands for and that they strive for peace and not violence.

Rabbi Ettin added that this new phenomena of Islamaphobia reminds him of the anti-Semitic views of 1930s Germany and that this issue needs to be addressed and not ignored as if the problem will solve itself.

“It’s a call for people to be involved in community dialogues, to take responsibility for things we don’t know, and to reach out and try to connect with someone we don’t know and educate ourselves,” said the Rev. Kelly Carpenter, lead pastor of Green Street, about the forum. “Otherwise, the loudest voice is going to win the day instead of a voice of informed reason.

“I hope people will understand that this is no different than what we run into with racism, sexism, homophobia, or anti-Semitism or any of those areas where we make someone an ‘other.’ It’s all related and is an old story, but it continues to raise its head, and that’s what we are attempting to combat.”

Carpenter recounted a story of how his father, who was a United Methodist pastor himself, asked a question regarding the Islamic faith, which led him to see that even the most non-biased men can be manipulated by political rhetoric, and how lack of education about the religion affects opinions.

Griggs went on to tell stories of how the media has infiltrated our thoughts with so much negativity that he sees it everywhere. He spoke about being called Bin Laden by children while serving as an administrator in the school system and told a story about his experiences at the airport where he knows people make ignorant assumptions about him.

Ettin said that as human beings, we are always looking for a deeper understanding and broader acceptance of one another.

Ettin also said we need to look within ourselves to see where we have hardened our hearts. He referenced the Torah by saying, “The pharaoh within is a wicked taskmaster,” which means that we must first address our demons within.

Griggs said he feels as though it’s central that we try and organize and have deliberate, intentional gatherings like the one at Green Street, because oftentimes people have never met a Muslim; they just hear what Donald Trump says on the news, or they see what’s in the media about terrorism, and just broad-brush Muslims as a whole. He said it’s very important to meet a Muslim and spend some time to converse with the person to exchange ideas and realize that ultimately, we all want the same things.

The forum shed light on ways to stem the anti-Islamic views and ways for people to not only educate themselves, but others as well.  Following the invited guests’ talk, there was a question-and-answer session during which some asked questions in an effort to educate themselves.

Lisia Madison, a member of Green Street, said, “We just have to remember that Jesus said we have to forgive people, and no matter what someone comes at you with, you should come back with forgiveness.”

After the forum, Griggs and Ettin joined the congregation of Green Street to worship during their 11 a.m. service and assisted Carpenter with delivering the sermon, even speaking in the original language of the Torah and Qur’an in which they further emphasized the importance of peace from the passages they read.


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