Douglas brings local students to London mosque, synagogue - Feb. 9, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
An annual tradition conceived by Blyth’s Kathy Douglas had special added meaning this year thanks to a number of things going on in both Canada and the U.S.
Every year, Douglas organizes a trip to London for Confirmation-aged students throughout Huron and Perth Counties to visit a synagogue and a mosque. This year, the trip took on a new significance with the Quebec City mosque attack just days earlier and the ongoing discussion regarding U.S. President Donald Trump and his travel ban and immigration policies focused on those from Muslim countries.
With enough interest expressed in the trip this year, Douglas chartered a bus for the trip, which took place on Feb. 2.
The group spent the majority of its time at the London Muslim Mosque on Oxford Street. There, the students met the mosque’s Imam (the leader of the mosque) and observed several of the group’s prayer sessions.
The mosque’s Imam took the students around the building for a tour and explained the finer points of the mosque and Islam.
When asked why students furthering their lives in Christianity would benefit from experience in a mosque and a synagogue, Douglas says the religions are very similar and the experience is all about learning.
“The students are going on a faith experience and they’re learning about a bunch of other faiths,” Douglas said in an interview with The Citizen.
Douglas added that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all “Abrahamic” religions, which means the faiths, and their followers, believe in the Hebrew patriarch Abraham and believe that his descendants hold an important role in human spiritual development.
All three religions believe in the same one God, Douglas said, which is crucial to focus on when so many in today’s world are focusing on the differences between the religions.
“They really are not so different,” she said. “They all come from the same roots.”
Douglas and the students also visited Temple Israel on Windermere Road, where they were greeted with a tour by the Rabbi. They also dined at Barakat Restaurant on Western Road in London, which specializes in Middle Eastern food.
On the way home, Douglas asked students to share their take-aways and “A-Ha” moments from the day and overwhelmingly students were keen to discuss the similarities between Christians and Muslims and the kindness shown to them at both places of faith.
While at the synagogue there was only the Rabbi to take the students on a tour of the building, they were able to witness afternoon prayers at the mosque and were consistently met with kindness and a welcoming nature by those of the Muslim faith at the mosque.
“They said that if everyone took the time to visit a mosque or to eat at Barakat there would be less of a focus on our differences,” Douglas said, adding that the two religions share the same fabric and the same values.
For more information on Douglas or the work she does as the Huron-Perth Presbytery’s Youth Minister, visit www.h-ppresbytery.ca and search under the “Youth Events” tab.