Baptist and Muslim leaders “found common ground” last Sunday.
That was the lead to Memphis’ Commercial Appeal story covering a documentary screening of “Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims,” held last Sunday afternoon at the city’s First Baptist Church.
Carol Richardson, the church’s associate pastor, called the screening and panel discussion a “giant leap for being Baptist in a new way” and a “step toward peace between the faith traditions.”
In an e-mail to EthicsDaily.com, she said that some 300 people attended the screening, with one third coming from the Muslim community in Memphis.
“The documentary was extremely well received,” said Richardson, who serves on the board of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
Copies of both the New Testament and Quran were distributed to participants.
A blogger at Contemplations of an Unconventional Christian called the event “powerful” and said that the event “blew my paradigm to pieces.”
The blogger, Terri Weaver, is a member of First Baptist Church.
She wrote, “I find myself pondering how much of my own ignorance about Islam is a result of an American patriotism that makes exploring/studying their holy scriptures somehow seem disloyal.”
David Breckenridge, pastor of First Baptist of Memphis, said the idea for the screening came out of a discussion at the church in the spring before tensions related to Islam rose across the country, according to the Commercial Appeal.
“Providentially or otherwise, it happened that this fell in a way that I think this event became an opportunity to speak a word about peace at a time when tensions are a bit raised,” said Breckenridge.
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“A lot of people don’t even know or realize that many of their neighbors, doctors, teachers, whatever are Muslim,” said Nabil Bayakly, director of Muslims in Memphis and biology faculty member at the University of Memphis, during the event. “There couldn’t be any better time than now (to help) people really understand what Islam is about.”
The Commercial Appeal quoted another Muslim panelist, El Kadi, imam at Masjid Al-Noor, who noted that the Quran identifies Jesus as a prophet.
“If any Muslim says he does not believe in Jesus, I tell him he is not Muslim,” said El Kadi.
Screenings of the documentary and discussions about screenings have increased due to the intense media attention surrounding a proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero and the planned, but later canceled, burning of Qurans in Gainesville, Fla.
The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America has encouraged its members to host screenings and discussions of the documentary.
On Saturday, Oct. 2, “Different Books, Common Word” will make its festival premiere at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. The screening is slated for 2 p.m. CT at Scarritt Bennett Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University. Documentary interviewee Daoud Abudiab, president of the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tenn., and documentary producer Cliff Vaughn, will be in attendance.
A segment of “Different Books, Common Word” will be screened in a breakout session at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, meeting at the Hampton Roads Convention Center on Nov. 9, from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. The breakout session will include a discussion about how Baptists can offer a positive word in a multicultural world marred by so much conflict.