More than fifty people joined together in Morton Grove on Saturday, September 24 to create understanding and fellowship between people of different faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities.
In the summer of 2015, Open Communities put out a call to our communities to form Justice Teams in honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to Winnetka. Fifty years after the North Shore Summer Project brought him to the north shore to fight housing discrimination, dozens of local residents have answered the call to continue the fight for love and justice.
As a result, the Morton Grove Justice Team envisioned an interfaith walk as a way to highlight and strengthen the diversity of the community in the face of growing expressions of xenophobia and racism against Muslims and immigrants.
The group began at the Morton Grove Community Church and picked up people on the way as they visited the Farmer’s Market on Dempster, St. Martha’s Catholic Church, and the Muslim Education Center.
The Morton Grove Community Church (MGCC) was founded as a Presbyterian church in 1951, and maintains a strong interdenominational and community focus.
Co-Pastor Lolly Dominski and members of the MGCC greeted the walkers and offered homemade pie and coffee. Reverand Lolly opened with the St. Francis of Assisi peace prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love….
At St. Martha’s, Father Dennis O’Neal greeted the group in the large church, which houses dozens of relics and artifacts from Catholic saints. “The art and statues are the family album of the church, much like your family albums at home.” The interfaith group also visited the small church, a stunning old building with high wood beams built by the early German immigrants who founded the parish more than one hundred years ago. The small church is also used by Presbyterians. Masses at St. Martha’s are offered in English, Korean and Urdu.
The interfaith walkers then visited the Muslim Education Center, a multi-purpose community center that includes a mosque and a school. Professor Dilnaz Waraich, the chair of the Interfaith Committee at the MCC and a board member of Open Communities, greeted the walkers and gave an overview of the Center and the tables of hospitality set up for the interfaith marchers. The center provided hummus and falafel; a calligrapher writing people’s names in Urdu, a woman drawing henna on people’s hands, and the center’s girl scouts offering cookies.
The Imam, Nazim Mangera, offered prayer, and gave a brief overview of Islam, including the five pillars of the faith, highlighting that the Prophet Muhammad had great respect for Judaism and Christianity. “The Qur’an mentions the prophets Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them, more times than the Prophet Muhammad.” He answered questions and signed copies of his book, a compilation of 100 sayings of Muhammad on topics such as care for the environment, family relationships and relationships with neighbors, and social justice.
Morton Grove Mayor Dan DiMaria, who participated in the entire day, said “This is wonderful. It represents what Morton Grove is all about. Our diversity is our strength.”
Elizabeth Jones, the pastor of St. Luke’s Christian Community Church in Morton Grove, summed up the feelings of everyone involved. “Why can’t we all walk together in friendship and unity?”
photos by Syed Ullah