Magazine article Anglican Journal

Church Rents Space to Muslim Worshippers

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Church Rents Space to Muslim Worshippers

Article excerpt

A Leamington, Ont., church is renting out space in its basement to local Muslims for use as a mosque.

Since this spring, Muslim worship has been held in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, diocese of Huron, says the church's rector, the Rev. Andrew Wilson.

The arrangement serves the church because it provides income to fund its ministry, he says; but it's also an important part of the church's outreach to Leamington's growing refugee population.

"To one degree, it's as basic as a rental, but it is creating wonderful community for them--they feel safe, they feel welcome," he says. Najam Jutt, who leads prayers for the group, says the church basement is a big improvement over the rented office space they were using before. It's roomier, and, more importantly, it's a powerful symbol of religious tolerance, he says.

"It's beautiful--it's an example for all communities in Canada and the world to look at, especially with various tensions in the world," he says. "We don't need those tensions--we need to come together."

It originated ultimately from the church's work sponsoring and assisting refugees in the area. In September 2016, the church invited some Syrian refugees to attend its annual picnic, including a tour of the church. As Ramadan--the Muslim holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting--approached this spring, a member of the group inquired about renting space in the church. Wilson says everyone he contacted about the idea, from the church wardens to the diocese's executive archdeacon, supported it enthusiastically, and the church went ahead with it. …

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