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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Breaking Bread Together: A Reflection on "Pray and Break Bread" by Katherine Parent

On Friday, October 24, a group of Luther students, staff and faculty experienced a thought-provoking day of interfaith hospitality and community learning on the first Pray and Break Bread trip. Not only was the day an immersion experience in Muslim, Jewish, and Christian interfaith dialogue, it also became a day of learning about local community history. All three sites we visited have deep historical roots in North Minneapolis. As the day unfolded, so did stories about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian experiences on the Northside, and how each faith community has responded to ongoing realities of racial and religious marginalization in the Twin Cities.

At Masjid an-Nur, we were hosted by Sister Safiya Balioglu, a member of the Speakers’ Bureau at Islamic Resource Group, a local organization that teaches religious literacy for non-Muslims. Many members of our group were visiting a Muslim place of worship for the first time and were enthusiastically welcomed by community members at the Masjid. While sharing her personal experience of hajj pilgrimage, Safiya described the incredible stillness of thousands of worshippers at Mecca during prayers. Our group experienced a glimpse of that communal silence as we observed Friday jumah prayers.

Not only was the day an immersion experience in Muslim, Jewish, and Christian interfaith dialogue, it also became a day of learning about local community history. All three sites we visited have deep historical roots in North Minneapolis. As the day unfolded, so did stories about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian experiences on the Northside, and how each faith community has responded to ongoing realities of racial and religious marginalization in the Twin Cities. Reflecting on our experience, we drove down Penn Avenue past historic synagogues to Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park. Sabes JCC Art Director Robyn Awend gave us a tour of the beautiful cultural and athletic facility. We enjoyed special sneak peeks from films featured in the annual award-winning Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival. Our group also toured a new art exhibit of beautifully crafted tzedekah boxes for giving charity, and we were touched by their similarity to the sadaqah box in the masjid.

We then visited the community gardens, youth-run bike shop, and neighborhood housing at Redeemer Lutheran Church, guided by local community leader and bike mechanic Kendrick. Local elder T. Williams shared stories of his sixty years' involvement in Northside social action. Volunteers helped us prepare an amazing pizza meal in the neighborhood outdoor wood-fired oven, and as the sun set, we enjoyed baking (and breaking!) bread together with our neighbors in the Northside.

If you didn't get a chance to participate this time, please consider joining our second trip on Saturday November 22, where we will encounter the diversity of spiritual and secular practice in the Twin Cities. We will be visiting the Hindu Temple in Maple Grove, The Humanist Institute at the First Unitarian Society, and the Minnesota Zen Center! To register, click here: http://goo.gl/forms/bBswdN2Olt

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