Local Church Hosts Interfaith Forum Series
In response to the recent Ground Zero mosque controversy and in the spirit of community building, the Astoria Presbyterian Church hosted an interfaith forum series on November 7, entitled Exploring Our Neighbors’ Spirituality. A wide-range of religions and spiritual disciplines including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Eastern Orthodox and Jainism were explored. Leaders from the various faiths spoke in an open forum format, where questions from the public were answered.
“Astoria is such a diverse community, and we have people worshipping in very different ways living side by side, but how much can we really say we know about our neighbor’s religion?,” Pastor of the Astoria Presbyterian Church Reverend Don Olinger said. “The forum seemed like the perfect way to bring people together and encourage constructive conversation.”
Imam Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York and the Al-Hikmah Mosque in Astoria was also present and spoke on the religion of Islam. Ali, a renowned Qur’an scholar, has been recognized internationally for his work as an interfaith bridge builder. In 2006 he was named one of the seven most influential religious leaders in New York City by New York Magazine.
The series will continue on the first Sunday of each month through the spring of 2011.
The Astoria Presbyterian Church, 23-35 Bway., in Astoria, has been serving the Astoria community since 1846.