From David Pollard, Aidrie United Church, Foothills Presbytery
When The United Church of Canada celebrated 90 years last by ringing bells, Airdrie United wondered what it could do since it doesn’t have bells. In 2010 the Ahmadiyyah Islamic community started using our building for Tarawih prayer during Ramadan. They liked the space so much they stayed and every Friday since they gather to worship and to pray. Airdrie United is honoured to host them. So we thought why not invite them to our party. They graciously accepted the invitation and they offered to bring food.
Anniversary Sunday was close to the start of Ramadan and so we asked if they would be willing to tell us more about it and the fast they keep during the day of this season. Rather than a sermon, Imam Mahmoud Butt told us about Ramadan. We sang the Churches One Foundation and heard the gospel. There was a recitation from the Holy Quran in Arabic and In English. As neighbours we “tasted” each others worship and traditions and then we tasted the wonderful meal our Muslim neighbours provided. What a joy to behold our Sunday School running and playing with the kids from the Islamic community. Many of them knew each other from school. What a joy to feel the palpable energy as neighbours came together. What a joy to overhear the questions folks asked each other about each other’s traditions and worship.
90 years ago our forbearers charted a new course for the United Church. On that anniversary, Airdrie United struck on a new path of intentional relationship with our Islamic friends. It
has seen us draw closer and visit each other more regularly. Good News is lived out here in Airdrie where we see folks from around the world and people who come with different religions but we seek to know them that we might call them friends. The radical welcome we extend has cost us a bit along the way but it is how we have committed to live the gospel in our small part of Alberta and Northwest Conference.