Members of Faith Lutheran Church, Chico, Calif., and Congregation Beth Israel participated in a joint seder meal. The congregations have held events and celebrated holidays together since 2009.

the Jordanians made two visits with the American chaplains in the U.S., the muftis noticed. “We have not held back from our faith. We are who

we are, and we are not ashamed of it. Why are you doing this? It’s almost as if you’re ashamed of it,” Lloyd recalled a mufti saying. It was a moment of humility for Lloyd. He then read them the Beatitudes. “Sometimes we become so uptight and fearful

that we’re going to show disrespect that we dilute who we are and what we believe,” Lloyd said. “The Muslims taught us not to be ashamed of who we are and to say what we truly believe.” At the last meeting between the two groups of

chaplains, a mufti shared how his mind and heart had been changed through the relationship. “There are voices saying that you are a godless people who only care for yourselves. These voices are wrong. … We will help still these violent voices with the truth,” Lloyd remembered the mufti saying. Lloyd now serves Lutheran Church of Our Savior

in San Bernardino, Calif. When Islamic extremists opened fire on a Christmas party in the city in 2015, killing 14 people, he did what the mufti promised him on behalf of Muslims. “Whether from the pulpit or from other opportunities, I’ve tried to speak out publicly to inform [others about] the true aspects of Islam,” Lloyd said.

Mutual hospitality In 2009 swastikas were spray-painted and shrubbery was set on fire at a synagogue in Sacramento, Calif. It was prosecuted as a hate crime and it shook up the Jewish community in northern California.

18 JUNE 2017 The following year the rabbi at Congregation

Beth Israel in Chico, Calif., asked members of nearby Faith Lutheran Church if they would stand as shomrim (guardians) while they observed Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. What began was a friendship between the two congregations that has lasted even after the original rabbi and pastor moved elsewhere. Ben Colahan, pastor of Faith, and Sara Abrams,

rabbi of Beth Israel, have been at their posts for less than a year, but they’ve already had joint events. They will celebrate Pentecost and Shavuot together as a creative way to discuss immigration. The traditional activity during Shavuot is to read the book of Ruth, which is the story of an immigrant woman who cares for her mother-in-law after they become widows. “Since Pentecost celebrates the different

languages of the world, it’s also a time for the church to think about how they serve people beyond their ethnic and linguistic borders,” Colahan said. For Abrams, the spiritual connection

between the two holidays is significant. “Shavuot is the holiday where Israel marries God,” she said. “When we hear about the Holy Spirit descending upon the disciples, it’s a revelation. Whether it’s the Israelites or whether it’s the disciples, we’re not separated from God. The spirit of the Lord can come down and descend upon us.” Colahan has learned a lot from Abrams. “It is a blessing to sit at the

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Colahan

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