Christian Hospitality to Muslims – Aberdeen, Scotland

Congratulations to Isaac Poobalan and St John’s, Aberdeen

Link to What's in Kelvin's Head

Congratulations to Isaac Poobalan and St John’s, AberdeenPosted: 21 Mar 2013 01:48 PM PDT

Great blessings upon the Rev Isaac Poobalan and St John’s Church in Aberdeen for the story that has gone global from the Scottish Episcopal Church this week.

Noticing that the neighbouring mosque did not have enough room and that people were praying outside in the cold, Isaac invited them into the church and made space for them to pray. It is a great good news story and one that made me proud to be an Episcopalian.

A couple of years ago I was approached by some members of the committee of the local mosque here. Their building was being redone and was out of use for six weeks and they were looking for somewhere to worship for that time. We had quite a good conversation about whether or not they could worship in a church with so many images in it. However, they assured me that was not a problem with them and we discovered a shared story in that of Jibreel and Myriam (which is painted on the wall and known as Gabriel and Mary in St Mary’s). In the end, the mosque committee found somewhere else to use where they could all meet together – St Mary’s was difficult for them because the pews couldn’t be moved.

However, I willingly offered them space and would have been glad to welcome that community into church.

I was also pleased to invite a Muslim friend to read from the Qu’ran at our Carol service two years ago.

It was good to see St John’s Episcopal Church, Aberdeen offer the welcome to the Muslim community that they have done.

I see from newspaper reports that Isaac is now getting vile abuse written about this story via facebook.

Sometimes there doesn’t seem much to be proud of in the church. This story made me feel proud to be a Scottish Episcopalian. Isaac and that congregation deserve all our support and encouragement and love.

Peace and blessings be upon them.

And upon their new Muslim friends too.

Further Comment from Scottish Episcopal Bloggers:

From Kirstin Freeman – http://revk.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/generosity-in-action/

From John Penman – http://www.dougalthink.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/examples-of-grace.html

On Beauty from Chaos – http://beautyfromchaos.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/breaking-barriers/

From Rosemary Hannah – http://rosemaryhannah.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/isaac-poobalan-real-christianity-and-real-islam/

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I am a fan of Fr. Kelvin Holdsworth‘s ‘What’s in Kelvin’s Head’ blog. As Provost of St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral in Glasgow, Kelvin, as an ‘out Gay’, has lots to say about the Anglican Communion Churches’ attitudes towards the LGBT community in the Church.

This article of support for the SEC parish of St. John’s, Aberdeen, and Kelvin’s own story of hospitality to a fellow faith community is indicative of what one might have thought the Christian enterprise needs to take much more seriously to heart.

Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman in the gospels – against the ethos of the time – demonstrates His hospitality to ‘strangers’ – that radical acceptance of the ‘other’ that God is surely concerned with – especially in today’s world of cultic separation on the grounds of the irrational fear of religious ‘defilement’. God’s treatment of the outsider – in the person of Abraham’s child, Ishmael, son of Sara’s servant-girl, Hagar –  is just one example of God’s acceptance of all humanity.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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