By: Magda Elkadi Saleh

Last Sunday, July 31, over 120 members of the New Tampa Muslim community had the opportunity to share lunch with the members of the Cypress Point Community Church.  So many of us in New Tampa pass by this church daily as we drive past or towards Daarus Salaam Mosque.  The church and its members are our neighbors, and, masha’Allah, through the efforts of many in our community, a true neighborly relationship has been built been the mosque, the church and their neighbors:  Gifts have been exchanged, the church members invited us to dinner last year, they accepted our invitation to come to our Open House and lunch, and we accepted their invitation to lunch last week.

Their members were very friendly and welcoming towards the many Muslims who attended the lunch:  They served only thabiha meats, welcomed us warmly, and provided games and activities for the young children, so that the adults could enjoy their lunch.

Pastor Dean Reule, who leads the Cypress Point congregation, welcomed and thanked everyone for coming.  He then welcomed to the stage Dr. Mahmud Ahmed, Imam Junaid and Br. Bilal Saleh, who each said a few words thanking the church, focusing on what we, as Muslims and Christians have in common, and inviting its members to join us in projects to serve the community.  Br. Bilal then gave a signed piece of framed art by our local artist, Ameena Khan, to Pastor Dean, as a token of the friendship between the mosque and the church.  Pastor Dean voiced his deep gratitude and promised to hang the piece of art in a place of honor.

We look forward to many more such events.  They are these events which will lead to understanding and goodwill, insha’Allah, between us, our neighbors, and the community at large.