Church's gift helps build interfaith relationship

Imam Islam Hassan and Rev. Leigh Goodrich at Faith UMC in South Burlington, VT.

December 19, 2019

Each quarter, the Compassion Team of Faith United Methodist Church awards a grant of $500 from the church’s endowment to groups or individuals in need.
The gift for the third quarter of 2019 stayed right in the church’s South Burlington, VT, neighborhood, but reached across the borderlines of faith.
The $500 was presented to the Islamic Society of Vermont to help them meet the down payment on a new building around the corner from the church. 
In gratitude, Imam Islam Hassan spoke at Faith’s worship service on Oct. 13, 2019.
“It was a pleasure speaking at the Faith United Methodist Church and experience the warm welcome of their congregation,” Imam Hassan said. “As I’ve said before, we’re truly fortunate to have neighbors of this quality, and we hope that our friendship stands forever.”
It was an opportunity for church members to renew their commitment to ecumenical dialogue and friendship, said Rev. Leigh Goodrich, pastor at Faith.
During her sermon that Sunday on Abraham, Sara and Hagar, Rev. Goodrich said:
“… it is our great wish and hope that our new neighbors on Swift Street will feel safe, teach us about their religion, which is not so very different from our own. 
“Perhaps such a relationship will help us rise above rhetoric that fuels fear, to learn the truth of our common roots, our common practices of prayer, fasting and pilgrimage, our common love and care for neighbors, and our common faith in the one true God.”
Rev. Goodrich said Compassion Team Chair Diane Chamberlain was instrumental in bringing the need to Faith UMC’s attention. Chamberlain said that she was happy to advocate for the society.
“I learned a lot about the richness of our two faiths and how we share common values and history,” she said. “I look forward to building a stronger community of faith with the Islamic Society of Vermont in our midst.”
Both congregations look forward to visiting and learning more about each other, Rev. Goodrich said. 
“Personally, I am so grateful for a congregation that truly identifies with the meaning of epiphany, a time when we celebrate God’s generosity to people of all religions and races as they experience divine inspiration,” she said.