By Sharon Mager
GLENWOOD, Md.—A Christian, Muslim and Jew enter a room…a joke? Not this time. The Mid-Atlantic Summit held at Gethsemane Baptist Church on Nov. 15 provided a chance for dialogue between a mostly Christian audience and speakers representing the Muslim and Jewish faiths. There were also opportunities to network to learn more about social issues such as sex trafficking, bullying, and assisting former criminal offenders, as well as a forum on religious freedom and a panel discussion with questions and answers via text messaging. Midway through the summit a Turkish dinner was provided including Noah’s Pudding a popular Turkish dessert.
Joel Rainey, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Team Strategist for Evangelism and Missions emphasized that his commitment to the exclusivity of the Christian Gospel is unmoved, but that faith is shared in the context of friendship and friendships are built on understanding, trust, and clear communication.
“We come from different and very distinct faith traditions, and we recognize and respect the deep differences that exist between us. We will not pretend that we are “all the same” where our religious faiths are concerned,” said Joel Rainey.
Suhail Kahn, a senior fellow for Christian-Muslim differences agreed with Rainey. Kahn said there are some irreconcilable differences between Islam and Christianity and those have to be acknowledged. But there is still room for discussion and education. Kahn led a break-out session on religious liberty.
Bilal Anyaya, imam at the Ezher Mosque, and program director of the Institute of Islamic-Turkish Studies in Fairfax, Virginia, said he was pleased to be at the summit to participate and personally learn. “And in these days of polarization that is taking place, it is important to come together,” Anyaya said.
Larry Steen, senior pastor of Westminster Baptist Church, said the summit was very helpful. “I don’t have that many opportunities in Westminster to get to know too many Muslims.”
As Christians, we want to love our neighbors, serve and share Christ, not just the message, but in our behavior. We can’t accomplish that if we don’t know our neighbors,” said Keith Corrick, pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church.