Eating encourages effective interfaith interactions

Guest column by Emily Geddes

Emily Geddes participated in Faith Feast over the weekend.
Emily Geddes participated in Faith Feast over the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, I joined my mom, my sister and my sister's husband at the first (hopefully annual – or even more frequent?) Faith Feast: An Intercultural Progressive Dinner, put on by Spokane Faith and Values, a non-profit dedicated to increasing interfaith communication and understanding.

I've been interested in interfaith work for years, an interest that was piqued, though not initiated, by Project Conversion (see my posts here and here).  My sister and her husband recently joined the Spokane Interfaith Council at the request of the regional Public Relations representatives for our church.  So when we heard about the Faith Feast, we jumped at the chance to interact with those of other faiths in their holy places.

The evening began at the Spokane Islamic Center. The women in our group of twenty-five or so covered our hair (I need to work on my scarf-wrapping skills as mine kept slipping back) and we entered the women's hall, where we met with three members of the mosque who told us about some of the basic tenets of Islam, including the daily prayers, submission to God's will, and eating only halal food.  (You can read this review I wrote a while back on a book about Islam.)  These three Muslim men were happy to answer our questions and engage in conversation about their faith, their worship, and their beliefs.  We also learned about the Muslim population of Spokane.  There are approximately 1200-1500 Muslims in our area, not counting students, from dozens of different countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  Several hundred attend the regular Friday services at the Center.  They were excited to report that after searching for years, they were finally able to hire an imam for the mosque just this March.

And then we ate.

It was just supposed to be appetizers at the mosque, but the table was practically groaning under the weight of all the appetizers.  Hummus and baba ghanoush (basically hummus made with eggplant instead of chickpeas), melt-in-your-mouth falafel, two different kinds of sambousa, homemade flatbread, a delicious salad, the list goes on and on.  Everything was delicious and I easily could have filled up right there, but managed to restrain myself and leave some room for the next stop.  The conversation – and eating – went on so long that we were late moving on to the second station of our dinner.

Read full post here.

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Tracy Simmons

Emily, thank you for this great reflection on Faith Feast! I’m so glad you found it enjoyable and hope to be able to organize one again.

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