A SCOTTISH Episcopal church has opened its doors to the local Muslim community in what has been hailed as an event of “global significance.”
• Rector and congregation of St John’s Episcopal Church have offered part of church building to Muslims due to their overcrowded mosque
• Chief Imam Amed Magghabri : “What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country.”
The Rector and congregation of St John’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen have offered the hand of Christian fellowship - and part of their church building - to the hundreds of Muslims attending the neighbouring and overcrowded mosque in the city’s Crown Street
The Aberdeen mosque is so busy at times that members of the Muslim community were having to pray outside in the wind and rain. They have now been offered the use of part of the Episcopalian church hall for daily prayers
The church’s Rector, the Rev Canon Dr Isaac Poobalan said: “Praying is never wrong. My job is to encourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in the wind and rain praying.
“I knew I couldn’t just let this happen - because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbours.”
He continued: “When I spoke to the people at the church about the situation, someone actually said to me this was not our problem, but I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem.
“When I spoke to the imam there was some hesitation on their part too, because this has never been done before. But they took us up on the offer and it has been a positive relationship”
Chief Imam Amed Magghabri said: “What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. The relationship is friendly and respectful.”
The actions of the congregation were praised by the Rt Rev Dr Robert Gillies, the Episcopalian Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.
He said: “It would be good to think that we can change the world. Most of us most of the time feel we can’t so don’t bother. But sometimes, just sometimes, someone has a vision that we can do something of global significance on a local scale. This is what is happening between St John’s Episcopal Church on Crown terrace in Aberdeen and the Mosque in its grounds.”
Bonds of friendship
Bishop Gillies continued: “Internationally the news speaks of tension and struggles between Islam and Christianity. Yet here in Aberdeen a Mosque and a Church have built bonds of affection and friendship. It must be stressed that neither has surrendered or compromised any aspect of the historic faith to which each holds. But mutual hospitality and goodwill exists. Cooperation is there a-plenty. Laughter can be heard as humour links people together.
“If you go to St John’s Church you’ll see unlocked doors that link Church and Mosque. You’ll find a footpath physically connecting one to the other. It’s a footpath which we hope can be developed into a café and recreation area where people can be welcomed into both buildings.”
He added: “Basically put, when people get together locally things begin to happen which can seem beyond reach on the international scale. Everyone can do something locally and if more were to do so then something big might just begin to happen globally. That’s why the eyes of the world are on Crown Terrace in Aberdeen. Christianity and Islam don’t have to agree in order to be together. Here in Aberdeen they already are.”