On Saturday 30 January, worshippers from St Gabriels Parish church, Fullbrook will be visiting Aisha Mosque, Caldmore in an exchange programme supported by Walsall Council. The 20-strong congregation led by Father Mark McIntyre will be joining their Muslim neighbours for a meal, social chat, discussions on what their respective faiths share in common and a guided tour of the Mosque and Islamic Centre.
For many of the visitors to the mosque, this will be a first-time opportunity to explore what an Islamic place of worship looks like and will provide a snapshot of what daily life is like in one of Walsall’s busiest minority faith centres.
Father McIntyre commented: “We live in a volatile world situation where inter-religious conflict has sadly become a daily facet of news headlines at home and abroad. This is our attempt at realising the Biblical commandment of Matthew ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ within our own town”
The mosque interfaith representative Imran Khan, with the support of Dr Israr Khan a well known local GP, and the mosque youth club members took an active lead in the planning of this event. The mosque commented that, “This exchange visit is a chance for a chance for our community to represent the global family and to show that people of difference within our own neighbourhoods strive for peace whatever their religious tradition might be. Our congregation are eagerly looking forward to a reciprocal visit to the Church in the coming weeks too.”
Ruth Burgess from the Near Neighbours programme added: “Encouraging dialogue between communities is central to our work here at Near Neighbours. We are confident that this visit will be the start of many engagement activities between this church and mosque.
“It’s a recognition that churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship all help to contribute to an understanding of what it means to be a resident of Walsall.
“This is a wonderfully diverse town where people of different cultural backgrounds frequently break bread together and celebrate what makes us different instead of viewing each other’s differences as an obstacle.”