MEMPHIS – Members of a Memphis mosque and Presbyterian church went out in a picnic on Sunday afternoon, breaking bread and barriers together.
“We want to break the barrier so that we can become friends and learn from one another,” Mohammed Moinuddin, director of nuclear medicine at Baptist Memorial Hospital and vice president of the Muslim Society of Memphis, The Commercial Appeal reported on Sunday, May 7.
Moinuddin was one of the Muslim members of Masjid Al-Salam mosque who went in a picnic with members of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church on Sunday.
During the picnic, at Shelby Farms, both Muslims and Christians placed pins on a map to show their far-flung points of origin, then they sat together around picnic tables and broke bread to show the closeness of their hearts.
“It’s planting a seed of community,” Rev. Will Christians, pastor of Shady Grove said.
Relations between the two faith groups started after members of Shady Grove Presbyterian church paid a visit to the mosque.
“Dr. Moinuddin and Billy (Bickers, a Shady Grove member and one of the picnic organizers) were friends,” said Robert “Sonny” Robinson, a Shady Grove member who helped bring the picnic together.
“We decided as the relationship grew that we should get together for a picnic.”
The picnic idea was welcomed by Moinuddin as important to nurture the growing friendship.
“I told the audience during a March celebration at mosque that we need to socialize more often,” he said.
“Eat together, talk together — the current political climate gives added importance to events like this.”
The picnic also offered them a chance to understand and discuss differences.
“It’s been a wonderful experience for all of us,” said Shady Grove member Rodney Rastall.
“I met a woman who said she couldn’t shake hands with a man, and that’s OK. I learned something.”
“You can’t say we’re doing anything profound,” Christians, the Shady Grove pastor, said before finishing the sentence with words suggesting that just maybe they are.
“Right now, no two groups are more divided. We’re hoping to show that that’s a false narrative. It’s not our reality.”