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Aug 18, 2015 | EDOT Staff

Grace Holds Interfaith Ramadan Dinner


Grace, Houston, was honored when leaders of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest offered to prepare a Ramadan Iftar dinner for church members and their guests, as an opportunity to build relationship among different faith traditions.


Seventy-five people representing Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists gathered for an evening of sacred music, conversation and to share a Turkish meal.


In her opening prayer, the Rev. Gena Davis asked God to strengthen participants resolve to reflect neighborly love, to increase understanding of one another and to bring an “end to strife among nations and peoples as we seek the way of peace together.”


Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. The Iftar dinner at Grace was preceded by an offering of sacred music from different faith groups, including Gregorian chant introduced by Sister Deborah Fuchs, CDP, a Roman Catholic nun; Jewish chants by Houston cantor Janice Rubin and Hindu chants with drums and musical instruments in which the audience was asked to join.


As time for the breaking of the fast of Ramadan neared, Bill Tamer, director of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, showed a short video about the meaning of Ramadan for Muslims followed by the traditional call to prayer. Before the meal was served, Tamer encouraged participants to meet one another following the event in order to begin to know one another on a deeper, personal level.


While many took up his challenge, others said they wanted to continue gathering with Grace for other events, both at the church and in their own sacred spaces.


“Our members shared the importance of developing interfaith relationships,” Davis said, “because it opens us to listen to the hearts of people of different faith backgrounds and cultures, and to see our common humanity, hopes and dreams.”


Helen Rose Ebaugh, PhD, retired professor of sociology and comparative religion at the University of Houston, and member of Grace, organized the event. “This evening is a model of the kind of interfaith interactions that are so necessary in our global world today,” she said.