Akron church reaches out to Muslims

By Colette M. JENKINS

Beacon Journal Religion Writer


As controversy continues to swirl around a proposed mosque being built near the site where the Twin Towers fell, and a threat by a pastor to burn copies of the Quran, a local Presbyterian congregation is extending favor to its Muslim neighbors.

In a show of support for the Islamic community, the pastor at Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church placed a message — “Freedom of Religion Blesses All. Ramadan Kareem Generous Month to Our Neighbors’’ — on the sign that sits in front of the church on Goodyear Boulevard.

“I am heartbroken about the violence and hatred over someone’s religion and the thought that our Muslim neighbors have to deal with all of this during the month of Ramadan,’’ the Rev. Christy Ramsey said. ‘“Christians are called to love their neighbors, and we have Muslim neighbors everywhere.’’

Ramsey said he e-mailed parishioners of the church before putting up the sign last week and received overwhelming support for the message.

The moment Muslims Horia Adya and her daughter Lena, who live near the church, saw the sign, they were encouraged. They frequent social events at the church and help out when volunteers are needed.

Lena, 12, was so excited that she immediately made a call to her cousin, Maher Abbas, and said “You’ve got to come and see this.’’

Abbas, a former president of the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent who is active in the local interfaith movement, obliged. He appreciates the effort of the local church in promoting religious tolerance and acceptance.

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