Bussie has led Concordia students in

interreligious service projects as part of Better Together, a division of the Interfaith Youth Core. “Better Together starts not with a conversation,

but with service,” she said. “We don’t have to agree on the doctrine of the Trinity to agree that we have to feed a homeless child. That’s how people can organically get to know one another. If we serve our neighbors, we get to better conversations.” Jesus answers the question of “Who is my

neighbor?” with the parable of the good Samaritan. When Jesus asks in Luke 10:36, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” the answer is, “The one who showed him mercy.”

After a discussion with Trinity’s council based on

what he’d learned at Chautauqua, a majority agreed to let the ummah use their fellowship hall. In return, the Muslims invited Trinity to join them for iftar, the meal when Muslims end their Ramadan fast. They also helped on church cleanup days. Though some within the congregation worried

that they wouldn’t be safe if they were accepting of the Muslim community, the opposite happened. They became protective of each other. “It’s a group that’s different from us, but we

became friends with them. It raised our conscious- ness,” Schenker said. “St. Paul said in Philippians 2 that we should develop the mind of Christ, which says you should look at the other person as better than you are. In the Quran, Surah 49 says: ‘God made you different nations and tribes that you may come to know one another.’ ” Though the Muslim community now has their

own community center, they continue the tradition of an interreligious iftar. In 2016 more than 200 people attended, professing a communal desire for peace. “They basically want the same things that we do,”

Schenker said. “Love their God, love their families and contribute to our country.”

Fred Schenker and his family designed a 2016 presidential election yard sign to help send a positive message of hope and unity. The sign was met with neighbors’ appreciation.

Making room In 2004, Muslims joined to form an ummah, or worshiping community, in a north suburb of Pittsburgh. While the ummah saved money to build a community center, they approached several local churches to request the use of their space for Friday midday prayers and daily prayers during Ramadan. They were consistently turned down until they went to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wexford, Pa. Unbeknownst to the ummah, Fred Schenker,

then pastor of Trinity, had participated in the Abrahamic Initiative of the Chautauqua Institute, where he learned about the commonalities of Christianity and Islam. “You read in the Quran that ‘no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.’ To me, that’s pretty close to the golden rule,” he said.

16 JUNE 2017

Peace across religions Scottie Lloyd had an unusual job. He was the first Army chaplain tasked with developing relationships with religious leaders in another country, and he was given a wide berth of 27 from which to choose. Lloyd chose Jordan because of its strong military chaplaincy program and its connection to Mecca and Medina, two holy sites for the Islamic faith. “The religious messages going on within and

around Jordan have been exceptionally negative and false,” Lloyd said. “The religious leaders of that chaplaincy had never been interfaced by another religion—not even another branch of Islam.” After some cajoling, the Jordanian chaplains

allowed a visit from five American counterparts, including one of only six Muslim chaplains in the U.S. Army and Lloyd, an ELCA pastor. Through conversations and trips

together around Jordan, the group began finding common ground while discussing how they could promote peace in dangerous situations. Lloyd and his fellow chaplains

were careful not to say or do anything to offend the muftis, or Islamic scholars. They also didn’t share any passages from the New Testament in conversation. But when the tables were turned and 18

Photo: Courtesy of Fred Schenker

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