Rev. Andrew Wilson
Rev. Deborah Wilson-Safa
Since the beginning of Ramadan the Syrian refugees in Leamington have been praying regularly at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church.
Obviously we Anglicans make full use of our church: over the weekend of July 21, the CBC Windsor attended services of both the Muslim and Anglican communities at St John’s.
We have found sharing our building very simple since our worship times are so different. However, what we do is not as different as one might imagine: scripture, prayer, sermon, chanted call and response and Eastern facing, just to name a few.
Leading prayer was lay reader (our words) Najam, a third-generation Canadian from Windsor, who, interestingly, was educated in the Roman Catholic school system. On Friday, we saw mostly fathers with their children, but we have witnessed many different numbers, ages and combinations of people over the past few months.
We were invited into the worship space when the after-sermon prayers were led. We even say ‘amen’ pronounced differently. We stood and kneeled shoulder to shoulder, the dads were thankful and very moved that we joined them in prayer.
Dale from the CBC interviewed the Rector and a number of different Muslim parishioners after the Friday service, while Najam, Deborah and Andrew talked theology, the sermon and we told about some of the core understandings of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary – the Second Coming off to the side.
On a few points we struggled to find common language, which is to be expected, to express our beliefs and practices such as God’s Revelation today, but more often than not, things sounded very, very familiar: the place of scripture, the nature of God and our role in the world – we are here to serve. We have had many respectful conversations as to their teachings, and questions about ours, whether theology, prayer or practice.
Can one overuse the word “blessed”?
On Sunday, we were blessed to have a baptism on the same day the CBC returned to spend time with the Christian population, this time Meagan, to film our service and interview our parishioners. We think Najam chants better than Andrew, but we had babies!
Service filmed, parishioners interviewed as to their experience, including Faith Moffett, who after recent surgery was recovering at home, which the CBC graciously accommodated by visiting her and her husband Douglas. Faith has been an educator and ESL instructor, and has helped our refugee family’s mother learn English, though children being linguistic sponges, they would often jump in to “help” mom.
The generosity and aide our parishioners bring is a fountain of grace. Meagan interviewed several members, including John Tofflemire, our organist (he knows Meagan’s father) and Deacon Deborah. We were able to tell the world how this relationship came about, how it connected through several of our ministries.
Najam and Andrew were invited to CBC radio later in the week to discuss the growing relationship and commonalities they found in their theologies; unfortunately, we had to commit to press this article before we found out the date of the CBC video or content of the radio program. We assume we will be able to add them to our website and Facebook page, which perhaps you have already seen and heard.
For CBC report on St. John the Evangelist go to http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/anglican-church-in-leamington-doubles-as-mosque-1.4221661