Category Archives: interfaith

Interfaith “Taking Heart” helps refugees resettle with “Taking Root”

Refugee mother and children helped by Taking Root program

A mother and children helped by the Taking Root program

By Gail Anderson, Minnesota Council of Churches

Gail Anderson of the Minnesota Council of ChurchesOn a wintry afternoon in the last week of February Mariam, age 30, arrived in the Twin Cities on a flight from Turkey.  She and her family had taken refuge there after fleeing violence and anarchy in her home country of Somalia.  She has had no permanent home for the last five years.  She arrived with her five children, ages 4–13, with no connection to this community – no family, no friends, no resources.

However, she and her family were greeted at the airport by a group of people organized by the Minnesota Council of Churches to help them get rooted in their new community, their new home.  Her group of sponsors will get her family set up in an apartment, they will drive her and her family to appointments, they will introduce her to her neighborhood and community, they will help the kids get set up in school, and most likely they will become some of her first friends in America.

Mariam and her family are the first of nearly 100 refugees with no connection to anyone in Minnesota (a “free case”) expected to be co-sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Churches in 2010.

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Poem for Advent

Editor’s Note:  The following is a poem by Charles Curry written on the occasion of Advent but nevertheless relevant in this later season.

Charles Patterson Curry

There was a shooting yesterday.  A man killed his wife.  The police killed him.  There was another the day before yesterday.  Friends killed each other over some small matter.  A few weeks ago an Army psychiatrist shot forty-three soldiers and civilians.  Some young, some older.  Some officers, some enlisted.  Men, women.  The shooter isn’t dead.  Not yet.  Each day the drones fly into Pakistan.  Killer bees.  Sometimes they hit their targets.  Sometimes not.  There is always collateral damage – meaning innocents killed.  On it goes.  Be grateful you don’t know the shooters or the shot or the blown up.  Not this time.


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Taking Heart: What Would You Do?

By Gail Anderson

Taking Heart Dinner
From a Taking Heart dinner,
May 2008.

What would you do if you saw a store clerk refusing to serve a Muslim customer?

That was the question explored in a recent ABC news story. We will be using that video as our discussion starter at the next Taking Heart, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday July 9 at Masjid Ummat Muhammad, 315 East Lake Street, second floor. A free meal will be served.

There were more than 30 people at our last Taking Heart event at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church. We had discussions about sacred texts and wherever else the conversation took us. Read the rest of this entry

Take Heart: Join Get-Together at Convention Center

By Gail Anderson

How do we take heart in times like these?
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Taking Heart: Visit a Mosque, Share a Meal

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota

From a Taking Heart picnic,
summer 2007.

Gail Anderson isn’t asking you to make a new best friend.

“I think if next Wednesday night, we get a number of Christians to walk into a mosque—
that’ve never been in a mosque before—then I think we’ve done something,” said Anderson, unity and relationships organizer with the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Anderson helps head up the interfaith project “Taking Heart,” which brings Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors together over good meals and good conversation.

The next event, set for May 14 at Masjid Ummat Muhammad, was designed for South Minneapolis residents. The program is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with two presentations: There will be a brief talk about Muslim prayer, and Anderson will discuss the Christian prayer tradition. Afterwards, free Middle Eastern food will be served, and people will be encouraged to mingle and talk.

But what if people self-segregate, and Christians sit together with Christians, and Muslims with Muslims?

“We don’t let ’em,” Anderson said, and laughed. Read the rest of this entry