On Sept 18, WMC will welcome guests from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Saskatoon to join us for our worship service and a potluck lunch.  This is a next step in a relationship that has been developing over the past year; many of us have visited the Ahmadiyya mosque on Boychuk and McKercher, our women’s groups have met together, and some good friendships are being formed.

I’ve heard some questions about why our church is intentionally building relationships with a Muslim group, and why this group in particular.  I see several reasons:

For one, they invited us.  Last fall, some women from our church attended a public event at the U of S aimed at dispelling myths about Islam.  At that event, they met a couple of women from the Ahmadiyya community and enjoyed the conversation so much that it was continued later over a shared meal.  That led to an informal larger gathering of women from the two groups.  In March, the mosque invited us to an “open house” event on a Sunday afternoon, and over a dozen WMC folks enjoyed good conversation and great food.  In other words, this relationship began quite naturally and has continued as people of both groups have enjoyed one another’s company.

For another, we need these friendships.  In a city dominated by a white, Christian(ish) majority, it’s hard to see ourselves and our world clearly.  As we hear and interpret the news, as we make political decisions large and small, as we shape our lives and our ways of thinking, we are biased towards what we know and understand.  If we are to love our neighbours and our world as Jesus calls us to do, we need to know and understand people who are different from us.  It is good for us to include in our circles and, yes, our church experiences, people who have lived in other countries, who have distinctive cultural practices, who understand God and the world very differently than we do.

Also, Muslims in Saskatoon need friendships with people like us.  Not that we’re so wonderful, but many of us are part of the privileged majority in our region.  The opinions of white Christians matter a great deal in our region.  And much of the general public’s understanding of Islam is warped by fear and misunderstanding.  These misconceptions and stereotypes are intimidating and at times truly dangerous for our Muslim neighbours (I recommend the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim podcast for an eye-opening and frank window into two Muslim women’s experiences of life in North America).  The Ahmadiyya Muslim community goes out of its way to educate and to correct misconceptions in the news; we can show our respect by listening and learning.

Finally, I’m genuinely surprised at how much we have in common with those I’ve met from the Ahmadiyya community.  We already have many connections through shared work and and school and volunteer experiences.  We have shared values in pacifism and humanitarian work.  We have a shared story as persecuted minority groups within our own religions, forced to move great distances in search of religious freedom.  Of course the differences between us are significant, and we’re not ignoring those or pretending that our religions are the same.  But as we respect each other by listening and learning together,  I think you’ll be surprised at the things we share in common.

I am Mennonite, my neighbours are Muslim, and we need each other.  Now let’s eat! :)

For more information on the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Saskatoon, check out these Star Phoenix articles: 

http://thestarphoenix.com/tag/ahmadiyya-muslim-community.  For a broader look at their story: http://www.ahmadiyya.ca/public/ahmadiyyat


Sunday Mornings
10:45 a.m. In-Person Worship at WMC

10:15 a.m. Zoom Fellowship Time
10:45 a.m. Live Stream of In-Person Worship via Zoom

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Pastor Joe Heikman
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Pastor Eileen Klaassen
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