As of 2020, this organization is no longer active.
Address: 222 Colgate Avenue, Elyria, OH 44035
The Muslim-Christian Dialogue of Lorain County, Ohio, has been meeting for about three years at the local community college. During that time approximately one hundred persons have attended at least one meeting. Twelve to fifteen Christians and Muslims participate regularly.
The stimulus for the formation of the group was the experience of 9/11. Anger and fear dictated responses of both Christians and Muslims. A lack of understanding of the Muslim faith on the part of many Christians contributed to their reactions. Some Muslims in the community felt they were being punished for deeds they did not condone. We needed a forum to facilitate communication between members of the two faiths. We also saw the need to educate each other regarding our beliefs. It was our hope that in the process of dialog we would develop friendships.
The purpose of the Muslim – Christian Dialog is to provide a forum for sharing religious beliefs and related ideas. Our goal is to promote understanding and cooperation between the two faiths through dialog and joint social projects.
The co-facilitators of the dialog, Rev Bruner and Imam Mohammed Altabaa believe that we are called by our Creator to be in relationship with each other. Interfaith dialog builds community through developing mutual understanding and appreciation. It is based on the premise that diversity is an asset. By celebrating our diversity, we strengthen our sense of community. As we celebrate our differences, we discover common values and beliefs and build relationships.
The group has strengthened its sense of community by learning from each other. This process of discovery has led to an appreciation for the varied cultural and religious practices of the participants. Sharing faith stories helps to break down stereotypes and to ease misconceptions. Topics for discussion are chosen by the group and are presented by a Christian and a Muslim. Topics have included: prayer, the role of the family, worship practices, the ministry of Mohammed and Jesus, the role of women, and the Word of God as presented in the Bible and the Koran.
These discussions have led to several significant opportunities for interaction outside the actual discussion period. For example, one of the Muslims attended a Protestant worship service. Christians attended the Islamic Iftar, which marks the end of Ramadan; for many, it was their first visit to a mosque. The Imam led a discussion of the Muslim beliefs for an adult Christian education class. A presentation by a Muslim layperson at another Christian church dealt with the significance of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Christians have been invited to the mosque for celebration and given the opportunity to sample Middle-Eastern food.
The group felt that working on common projects would enhance group solidarity as well as witness to the larger community. To that end we worked on a Habitat House and served meals at the McDonald House at the Cleveland Clinic.
Muslim-Christian Dialog contributes toward world peace by building bridges between cultures and religions. Fear and suspicion lead to prejudice. Prejudice leads to hatred and hatred leads to violence. Dialog leads to mutual understanding and friendship. Relationships among members of America’s diverse cultures strengthen our country.
Reflections by Christian Participants
The following are comments by Christian members of the dialog:
“It is very worthwhile. It greatly increased my knowledge and understanding of how much we have in common.”
“I feel that everyone would benefit from this kind of dialog. We have so much in common that the differences are almost non-existent. We can truly become brothers and sisters with a little effort from each of us.”
“It has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Our commonalities are extensive, more so than our differences. The knowledge has given me a stronger hope of overcoming the differences so many see.”
“Putting a person, a face, a friend in the place of the “other” is so important. The personal contacts add a dimension to cross-cultural contact that is infinitely valuable. We are blessed in this group to continue growing in our knowledge of one another.”
“Being a part of this dialog group has not only been educational, it has also enriched my life through experiences with and knowledge of a misunderstood people and faith. I hope we can continue and remain friends through the troubled times which may lie ahead.
Reflections by Muslim Participants
The following are comments by Muslim members of the dialog:
“Dialog is very much needed at various levels throughout our communities, nations and countries so that we may live the mortal life on this earth and hereafter as our Creator had expected when he created us.”
“I’ve enjoyed meeting people of another religion and find we have many things in common.”
“I feel blessed to have shared and learned from my friends.”
Growing in Faith Together
Muslim-Christian dialog continues to contribute opportunities for members of both faiths to grow in their understanding of their own faith as well as that our new friends.