On March 10, a meeting of Christians and Muslims took place at Camp Ithiel in the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District. Initiated by the district’s Action for Peace Team, the event was planned with leaders of the Turkish Cultural Center in Orlando. Over 40 people attended, including 35 Brethren along with 8 Turkish who live in the area.
The intent of the meeting was to begin an open conversation about relationships between persons of both religions and to work toward understanding and peace. Dr. Eren Tatari, a professor at Rollins College, and Merle Crouse of the Action for Peace Team, coordinated the event. Following personal introductions, Eren presented the basics of Islam. Then came questions and comments about the Muslim faith and how to take responsibility for peaceful attitudes and relationships.
Both Turkish and Brethren people have a strong heritage of hospitality and visiting at a table of good food. So, at break time, home-prepared Turkish food was served for refreshments. A warm invitation was given to visit in Turkish homes and continue to build friendships.
The meeting was closed with prayer led by Imam Omer Tatari, a professor at the University of Central Florida.
The time together felt like the beginning of a new adventure beyond our normal comfort circle. Our challenge is to take another step soon, as individuals and as a faith community, to build trust and to find common ground for peacemaking.
— This article is excerpted from a report prepared by Merle Crouse for the Atlantic Southeast District newsletter.