by Phil Rockrohr
When Morton Grove interfaith leaders learned of an interfaith walk in Northbrook five years ago, they wondered why they hadn’t replicated it for their community, said Dilnaz Waraich, interfaith chairwoman of the Muslim Education Center.
Waraich and fellow Morton Grove interfaith leaders liked the idea so much that they now organized the “Interfaith Peace Walk” along a 2.5-mile stretch through various locations in the village from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
“We just had more meetings at the congregations interested and just started to formulate more details on how to make it a reality,” she said.
Morton Grove Community Church, St. Martha Catholic Church, the Muslim Education Center and St. Luke’s Christian Community Church are presenting the event, said Elizabeth Jones, pastor of St. Luke’s.
Open Communities, a nonprofit group that advocates for housing, economic and social justice in north suburban Chicago, is co-sponsoring the walk, Jones said.
“The primary purpose of this interfaith walk is to promote peace, harmony, and friendship in the midst of diversity,” she said. “In association with other peace-making activities during the third week of September, this interfaith walk is a friendly way to bridge differences in this diverse community.”
The Morton Grove area — including neighboring Niles — is a very diverse community, Jones said.
“There are people from all number of ethnic groups, faith traditions, cultures,” she said. “It’s just a melting pot.”
The U.S. Census listed neighboring Niles as the “most diverse suburb in the Chicago area,” Jones said.
“Ethnically, religiously, culturally, it’s a melting pot from all over the world,” she said. “Morton Grove is right next door and is very, very much like Niles in makeup. It’s just a smaller suburb, but it is ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse. That is one of the things we celebrate about Morton Grove.”
The walk begins at 9:30 a.m. at Morton Grove Community Church, 8944 Austin Ave., and continues to the Civic Center, 6140 Dempster St., Jones said. Crossing south of Dempster, the walk will proceed to St. Martha’s, 8523 Georgiana Ave., and will end at the Muslim Education Center, 8601 Menard Ave., she said.
No religious services will be conducted at any of the sites, Jones said.
“We’re just being friendly and being welcoming,” she said.
The walk will not stop at her church because it is centered around sites near Austin Avenue, but that’s not stopping Jones from walking throughout the village.
“I am participating,” she said. “I am going to be walking with everyone.”
Organizing the walk was not difficult for Morton Grove interfaith leaders because they are in regular contact, Waraich and Jones both said.
“Morton Grove is very collaborative,” Waraich said. “We work on different projects that include interfaith work.”
Village interfaith leaders organized an interfaith peace breakfast in April and rotate an interfaith Thanksgiving meal every year, Jones said.
Phil Rockrohr is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.