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Mosque Invites Church to Use Its Space for Worship

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Michigan: When Unitarian Universalist Christian congregation in Michigan (USA) found itself homeless as their church underwent construction, a local mosque came to the rescue, offering them a space free of charge. “This has been the Muslim tradition for over 1,400 years “” to be hospitable, to take care of your guest,” Imam Sohail Chaudhry of The Islamic Center of East Lansing said. The church had been gathering in a Jewish fraternity before deciding to buy its own building, but the space needed construction and wouldn’t be available for several months. The Islamic center, which hosts its main prayers on Fridays, invited the Unitarian congregation to use its worship space for Sunday services. The congregation met at the mosque for about a month before settling into its new space. Many of the Christian congregants had never been inside a mosque before, said Rev. Kathryn Bert, senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing. “People were so excited the very first day,” said Bert. Before the church’s first service at the mosque, Bert fielded questions from her congregation about etiquette, including whether women should cover their heads, as is traditional in Muslim places of worship. When Bert posed the question to Chaudhry the imam said it would be polite, but not necessary. Bert said she estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the women in her congregation chose to wear scarves during services out of respect to the Islamic center. “Getting comfortable with difference involves building relationships with people,” she pointed out.”