WPC Letter of Support for Muslims in Grand Rapids
This is an excerpt from a sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on January 29, 2017 and includes the letter we sent to the members of the four mosques in our city. The letter was signed by more than 260 members of Westminster.
Last Sunday, we were anticipating a gathering that occurred last Thursday at one of our local mosques. Members of all four local Islamic communities and a number of Christian communities were gathered. It was, in fact, a capacity crowd. And our Muslim sisters and brothers were very grateful for our presence. Each of the imams spoke of how moved they were to have us there, because, as I shared with you last week, they have felt afraid. We shared a meal. We talked. We laughed. They were greatly moved to have us there, and I was also moved by the gathering and by the words of my fellow clergy—Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. When I was asked to speak, I talked about our history and why we were there. And then I said something like, “In my tradition I don’t have the authority to commit my congregation to anything, but I know their hearts, and I promise that we will stand by you. We will not abandon you.” Swept up in the moment, I testified, but I believe it would be deeply meaningful, if you could back me up on that one. I do know you, but let’s show them. Let’s bless them. The place was so small that we could have only a dozen of our folks there. It would be so great to send them lots more names. So, we have a letter, to which you can add your signature, if you would like. It’s very short; it’s addressed to the four Muslim congregations and their imams. It simply says:
We add our names to this letter to echo our delegation’s words of support to you at Thursday evening’s dinner—January 26, 2017.
We vow our support to you. As we work together with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, we hope to back these words up with concrete and well thought out activity as plans develop.
We see you and we want you here. We love you and stand united with you. We are grateful to live with you in this community.
You are our neighbors. More than that, you are our brothers and sisters, and we are your sisters and brothers.
God bless you.
…you can add your name to the letter, if you’d like. Just words, but a self-involving gospel word that affects the hearer. As we have put the word of blessing on our lips today, so we seek also to incarnate this gospel word of blessing in our hands, as we write our support.
Related statement from the Presbyterian (PCUSA) Mission Agency (January 31, 2017)