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Michigan mosque takes in homeless Unitarian Church

(RNS) A neighbor offers space -- rent-free.

Worship of the Unitarian Universalist congregation held in the gymnasium of the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing. Photo courtesy of Corie Jason

(RNS) The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing is getting a new church this spring — but not quite soon enough.

Hearing of construction lags and its neighbor’s need for a temporary home, a mosque in East Lansing offered up its worship space — for free.

“No charge whatsoever,” said the Rev. Kathryn Bert. “It’s been a lovely story to live. It has been a beautiful relationship.”

Since April 3, the church has been gathering at the mosque.

The offer from the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing came with no strings attached, but in thanks the church decided to dedicate its plate offering one Sunday this month to the mosque. The mosque, in turn, plans to donate all or part of the offering to Islamic Relief USA, which locally is helping victims of the Flint water crisis and to resettle refugees.

The arrangement is particularly practical because the church gathers on Sundays, and the mosque’s main prayer day is Friday.

“It worked out well for us both,” Sohail Chaudhry, the imam of the Islamic Society, told the Lansing State Journal. He said he hoped the arrangement would “provide an example to other faith-based communities around the nation.”

The mosque welcomed the church with coffee when it held its first service there this month. The church expects to be in its new home in May.

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