A Pastoral Letter Regarding Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center Bombing

Dear ECLC,   

Waking up at Holden Village is like entering into a dream that you never want to end. Endless hospitality, solidarity, and spirituality nestled in the mountains next to flowing waters. Community life centers around worship, learning, listening, and cooperation.  Without internet access, knowledge of what is happening in the world outside the village is limited and face to face conversations abound.

At our first Vespers service, we sang a song called Contemplation Chant by Sophie Songhealer. This meditative piece layers lyrics and music from the languages of the five major religions of the world.

  • Islam: La Il La Ha, Allah Hu (There is no God but God)
  • Judaism: Shalom (Peace)
  • Buddhism: Om Mane Padme Hum (I Salute the Jewel in the Lotus)
  • Hindu: Shanti (Peace)
  • Christianity: Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the Highest)

As the community gathered and we sang these refrains together, hope was instilled and peace felt possible.

Coming out of the village this past Saturday was a rude awakening. News of the bombing of Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington flooded my news feed. Waking up to the world can be harsh and forces each of us confront the comfortable parts of our own lives, recognize the pain in others, name the values we hold dear, and then act on them. Loving God and neighbor in both word and action is at the heart of who we are.

Yesterday’s gathering at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center reminded me of contemplative chant, as voice after voice from various traditions confronted hate and fear, and countered it with love and courage. As people called to follow in the way of Jesus, we cannot remain silent. We are called to show up and walk in solidarity with our neighbors, and in these days our Muslim brothers and sisters need us to do just that.

Journeying with you toward God’s peace & justice,

Pastor Stephanie

P.S. Please consider the following framework as you examine your own journey toward peace, justice, and racial reconciliation (with thanks to Mark Swiggum and the Racial Justice Leadership Team):

Overcoming Racism: Stages of Growth and Development, www.overcomingracism.org

Awakening: Seeing, naming and deconstructing the dominant racial narratives. This
step is about education and dialogue. It means awakening to the history of colonialism/
(If you don’t know the history, you can’t see it repeating itself.) It means awakening to
the white racial frame and white privilege. It means waking up to the histories and
narratives of other peoples and cultures and valuing them.

Woke: Awakening is a first step, but it’s easy to slip back into habits of silence,
numbness, and not-seeing racism. This step is about vigilance and preparedness. We
can stay awake to how racism surfaces in our everyday life and have confidence in our
ability to respond. People who are truly “woke” carry a strong responsibility to act.

Taking Command: Learning the skills to undo racism, seeing the opportunities to undo
it and applying our skills to the challenges at hand. This step is about building skills,
courage and leadership.