Many Christians look back on previous generations of Christians and wonder why they did not do enough to support people who were being marginalized: Native Americans, captured and enslaved Africans, the Irish, Chinese at in the 1900’s, German Jews in the 1930’s, the Internment of Japanese in the 1940’s, Latin American immigrants, and the ongoing oppression of many groups including Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics.
Since September 11, 2001 Muslims in this country have increasingly become subject to racism, xenophobia and scapegoating behaviors and attitudes. Their human dignity and human rights are often not respected. A significant part of the US population including national political leaders are in support of these policies and practices.
Recently, racist rhetoric regarding Muslims and other groups have become much more public and blatant. This is a crucial time for all Muslim people and communities to step forward and advocate for their rights as US citizens. This is a crucial time for Christians to step forward and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Let us act together!
Christian repentance of our passivity in the face of past injustice can take the form of our action now.
Further, if Christians and Muslims become neighbors and together step forward in this time of fear, we will become stronger and more capable to accompany other groups as they address the racism they experience.
We are convinced that the most effective way to work on the issue of Islamophobia, and the issues facing the many “othered” groups in our nation is through relationships.
Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, peace be upon them, all invited their communities to be good neighbors with others. This is not only a religious or moral issue: being neighbors is crucial for the survival and thriving of the larger human community.
Sadly, while we live in proximity to many people, we are not often truly neighbors with many.
To be a neighbor means to know another, and to be known by them.
These great teachers also understood that loving your neighbor as yourself means to work for their well-being. That when our neighbors have enough and live in safety that the peace of the whole neighborhood increases.
To be a neighbor means to work for the neighbor’s well-being.
Lastly, these great teachers understood that we also work for our well-being. We can work together with our neighbor on our mutual issues. Bullying, for instance, impacts many our Muslim children. It also impacts others. We could, therefore, work on many issues together.
To be a neighbor is to work together for our mutual well-being.
Through these neighborly relationships we will empower each other to stand for our rights instead of withdrawing from view.
In short, in this time of division and fear Muslims and Christians can be more true to each one’s faith as neighbors, and more true to the ideals represented in the US Constitution. We are stronger in mutual relationship with one another.
The Catacomb Churches and American Muslims of Puget Sound are partnering to foster these relationships in three ways:
- Events to encourage people to understand Muslims and the issues they face.
- Encouraging Muslims and Christians to become neighbors through one-to-one relationships.
- Organizing people to work on specific issues impacting the Muslim community
Events: Right now we have venues for 4 smaller events in Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Ferndale and Arlington. We have four venue so far for larger scale events in in Bellevue, Seattle, Bellingham, Des Moines and have completed an event in Lynnwood. This series of events is titled: Love in a Time of Fear: Muslims and Christians as Neighbors. We work to invite local, regional and national media to report on these events.
Here is the statement we use to guide the event:
We are people of faith respecting our differences, celebrating our commonalities and our common humanity. In this time of anxiety and tension we encourage:
1. All people to seek out neighborly relationships with Muslims.
2. All people to stand against extreme and exclusive forms of religious or political ideologies that lead to dehumanization of and violence toward others.
3. All people in this time of anxiety to resist the urge to stereotype and scapegoat minorities, including Muslims.
4. All people, corporations and governmental agencies to respect the human and civil rights of all people, including Muslims.
Relationships: We are going to publicly call for Muslims and Christians (and all people of good-will) to take time to develop one-to-one relationships with one another. We ask faith leaders to guide and facilitate their members’ efforts to develop these relationships. We are going to produce brief videos and leader resources to help people (and community groups, churches, Islamic centers, etc.) gather up to 8 people in homes or other gathering places, enjoy some dessert, introduce themselves, watch a brief video, and have some discussion about it.
Please post your photos and stories of your relationships as Muslims and Christians on our Facebook page:
Organizing: We are organizing several meetings for leaders. At the first we will work on getting to know one another and setting up one-to-one meetings between people. At the second, we will hear from our Muslim sisters and brothers about what is adversely impacting their community and select one issue to work on together. Once we choose an issue, we will select a small group of people to lead us in work to change the laws, practices or procedures that need changing. Liz Colver, Deacon and community organizer for The Catacomb Churches will help lead much of this effort.
Encouraging Other Efforts
This is an effort of Christians and Muslims to foster neighborly relationships with one another. If other groups seek to do something similar we want to support, partner with and learn from you.
Event Video & Media Coverage:
The video of the first event has been watched over 500 times in 64 countries.
We are sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and the Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA.
Budget and Financial Oversight
We are asking for $10,840 to help us in this crucial time. Please see the budget on page four for details. The Catacomb Churches will serve as the fiscal agent for any gifts.
Tax deductible contributions may be sent to
The Catacomb Churches
7555 Crescent LN
Anacortes, WA 98221
Please put Muslims and Christians in the memo line.
You can also click this link to do an online donation.
If you choose this option, we will email you to get your name so that we can get you a tax receipt.
We will provide a report by February 1, 2017 on our activities and our use of resources and will post it to our website and send copies to both the Synod and the Diocese.
The Rev. Terry Kyllo
Sister Liz Colver