SPOTLIGHT: Nahant UCC Church Spreads The Word About Islam

2/11/2015

Community Breakfast Aims to Educate the Community

Long before the killings in Paris happened at the offices of Charlie Hebdo (a French satirical magazine that has published controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad), the Nahant Village Church had booked their January speaker for their monthly community breakfast.  So it was a timely happenstance that two days after the tragedy, KeliKhatib – a modern convert to Islam -- presented the basics of that religion to about 50 people as they ate breakfast.

Khatib was featured in a 2012 local story about her concerns over the political uprising in Syria, and how the violence would affect her Muslim husband, and his relatives living there. Khatib, who was raised Protestant, converted to Islam after the 9/11 tragedy.  After the attacks, she sought to know more about her husband’s religion, and discovered that the tenets and practices of Islam were similar to what she believed from her Protestant Christian upbringing.  She then made the decision to be a follower of Islam.
 
KeliKhatib, in blue dress, and Alexander on the far right, answer questions about Islam following a breakfast presentation at Nahant Village Church.
 
Keli Khatib, in blue dress, and Alexander on the far right, answer questions about Islam following a breakfast presentation at Nahant Village Church

 
In response to a member’s request to gain a fresh understanding of the basic beliefs of Islam, Rev. Dr. Larry Titus, Pastor of the Nahant church, sought a Muslim speaker willing to share the tenets of the faith.  He reached out to Rev. Ian Holland, pastor from The First Church in Swampscott, Congregational, who had heard Khatib speak at interfaith events, including Ramadan celebrations, and recommended Titus contact her. 

“I was delighted that Keli accepted,” said Titus.  “Several years ago we had an Iman from the Muslim community in Revere speak to another gathering at the church, so this program was, in a sense, a continuation of our outreach program.”

At the breakfast, Keli and her son Alexander, a student at Swampscott High School, conveyed how they live out their faith, answered questions, and helped the attendees understand the differences among Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as well the commonalities, including sharing the same God, and many of the same stories. 

“Keli’s presentation was informative and grace-filled, and helped overcome stereotypes, misconceptions and fear,” said The Rev. Dr. Larry Titus, Pastor of the church.  “People expressed their gratitude to Keli and Alex for their presence and sharing.”  Following the program, one person even called to say how appreciative she was for the presentation, as it helped her understand more of Islam.

The Community Breakfast has been an ongoing outreach program of the Nahant Village Church since 2003 to prompt fellowship and to invite people into the life of the church.  Programs are diverse -- many presented by members -- and address issues of wide concern, including climate change, the effects of solar storms, travels to the seven continents, and health issues, as well as topics of local interest. 

The breakfast supplies – which usually consist of scrambled eggs, sausages, tater tots, danish, muffins, toast, juice and coffee – are donated and prepared by two members of the church, with cleanup help from others.   Free will donations are used to underwrite other outreach programs and to fund projects for the church over and above the current budget.  Breakfast is served at 8:00 am and is followed from 8:30 to 9:00 by a program, and all those in the Greater Nahant area are welcome.

Usually about 35 people attend the breakfast, so the January program attracted more people than usual.

“This program and others like it are good on many levels,” said Titus.  “They help people understand more of the commonalities of our faith traditions, and just as important, they help people to get know personally someone of another faith tradition.”

You can reach Rev. Titus at the church office at (781) 581-1202, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Nahantvillagechurch,or email pastor@nahantvillagechurch.org.


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