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Michigan mosque takes in homeless Unitarian Church

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.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • What perfectly, wonderfully beautiful acts of generosity on the part of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing!
    What a gracious act of gratitude on the part of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing!
    And what powerful examples of empathy, sharing, and coming together to help those in need!

  • That sure shatters some of my stereotypes. How dare they be kind and generous, inflicting a mortal wound on my view of Muslims. Geez, just when I thought I had it all figured out.

  • Just a note, and this is not meant in anyway to be contradictory….but they offered the use of their gym, not worship space. This is in itself a sufficient and wonderful gesture. I would have been terribly surprised if they had offered their worship space for use, as doing so would have desecrated it, not because these worshipers were present, but because they most likely would not have performed the necessary and prescribed purification rituals before entering the sacred space, like the removal of shoes and the washing of the face, neck, hands, forearms and feet. However, besides this minor detail, I wish more centres of worship would be known for their love and generosity to others, and even other faiths.