UMC hosts Ramadan dinner for scores of Muslims

Saturday, June 2, 2018
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Muslim praying U.S. flag backgroundHundreds of congregants at the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) largest megachurch in the United States celebrated Islam last week by hosting a Ramadan dinner to “demonstrate the love of Christ” to the Muslim community.

Church of the Resurrection Senior Pastor Rev. Adam Hamilton, whose megachurch is based in Leawood, Kansas, kicked off the Islamic season of Ramadan after sunset on May 22 by hosting the iftar dinner for approximately 320 attendees – including about 40 Muslims – saying he held the event to share Christian “love” and “dissipate fear.”

"We've been trying to look for ways to build bridges with the Muslim community in Kansas City and to demonstrate the love of Christ to them," Hamilton told The Christian Post. "There's an organization here in Kansas City who said [to us], 'is there any interest you all would have in having an iftar dinner with us?' We talked about it last year and we said, 'let's do that.'"

After Hamilton’s opening remarks before the feast, a Muslim from the Dialogue Institute of Kansas City interfaith group spoke at the event – a gathering that was set up to learn more about Islam and discuss its practices of honoring its god, Allah, and its prophet, Mohammed.

“[E]ach table had about six to eight people – including members of [the] Church of the Resurrection and at least one or two Muslims,” The Christian Post’s Michael Gryboski explained. “From there, both groups engaged in conversation about matters including how Ramadan is celebrated and experiences with fasting.”

Sharing the Gospel or mixing faiths?

The cross-faith fellowship and exchange of ideas included Christians learning more about Islamic teachings and practices.

"In the end, I think it was a chance for Muslims to get to know who we are – that we're a congregation of people who try to demonstrate the love of Christ," Hamilton expressed. "We had a chance – our people enjoyed the chance to hear other people's stories and hear what they experienced in their fasting and why it was important to them."

Embracing danger?

Even though the pastor – who is also a best-selling author – described the event as a “win-win” for both Muslims and Christians alike, many Americans are concerned about embracing Islam … especially with its militant jihadist teachings against “infidels,” including Christians.

“The church's interfaith dinner event comes as some claim there is rising hostility toward Muslims in America – especially those from an immigrant background,” Gryboski noted. “For example, President Donald Trump has issued executive orders aimed at temporarily barring refugees from a handful of majority-Muslim nations that have a substantial presence of terrorist groups or have expressed support for Islamic extremism.”

Making concessions to God’s Word?

When asked about fears that churches – especially those from mainline Protestant denominations like Methodists’ and the Episcopalians’ – are making concessions to the Bible or ignoring the threat of Islamic terrorism by organizing gatherings for Muslims, Hamilton discounted the concern.

In fact, he claimed that Jesus would have probably done the same thing and said that he does not think any of his congregants were considering converting to Islam in response to their interaction at the Islamic dinner gathering.

"He would break bread with people who He disagreed with, so much of Jesus' ministry – whether it was with sinners and tax collectors, or [whether] it was with Pharisees – breaking bread was done," Hamilton contended. "If we're going to dissipate fear, it's going to be by breaking bread with people."

Promoting the dilution of Christianity?

Instead of an outreach to Muslims, many evangelicals are concerned that such advertised events merely have the effect of mixing faiths in the spirit of tolerance so that one’s Christian faith is diluted so that the believer becomes convinced that adherents to other religions are essentially worshipping the same God of the Bible and basically embracing the same code of moral behavior.

“The Dialogue Institute of Kansas City helped organize the event with the mission of promoting ‘mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures,’" CBN News informed.

UMC also promoted the pro-Islam event via the Internet.

“Join us for a free Ramadan Dinner in partnership with Don Bosco Center and The Dialogue Institute, Sunday, May 20, 8 pm at 580 Campbell St, KCMO,” the post on UMC’s website announced, according to the Christian Journal. “Break Fast with traditional food from our Muslim neighbors. Enjoy a presentation on the Ramadan season and gain an understanding of The Dialogue Institute’s work to bridge our communities for peace. Please RSVP here by May 13, or contact PastorPatrick@cor.org with questions!”

Hamilton’s church also took to social media the day after the Islamic dinner event in order to celebrate the interfaith gathering as a success.

"Great turnout for the Ramadan Dinner last night!” the Church of the Resurrection exclaimed in its Facebook post, according to CBN News. “We enjoyed sharing a meal and conversation with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

The Christian media has been wary of the UMC’s optimistic take on fellowshipping with the Muslim community, arguing that instead of sharing the Gospel, churches are rather inviting and being influenced by Islamic doctrine in the name of tolerance.

“While there is nothing wrong with attempting to bridge the gap between peoples of different faiths, it can become a problem when the Church – which is supposed to preach Jesus Christ – begins teaching another religion,” the Christian Journal’s Nate Brown argued.

 

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