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Interfaith dinner to promote understanding

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PASTOR TRUDY FRANZEN, left, and American Muslim Voice President Khalid Saeed are working together to put on an Interfaith Dinner at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church on Sunday, Jan. 19.Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

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From page B2 | January 13, 2014 | 3 Comments

Following the nightmarish attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on America, there came a wave of outrage and fury toward those of the Muslim faith by many in the United States, a hatred that still permeates some segments of society.

It is because of those feelings that two local religious leaders, a Christian and a Muslim, are collaborating to welcome the public to an inaugural Interfaith Dinner at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church on Sunday, Jan. 19.

Attendees will enjoy a Pakistani dinner and listen to words of hope, love and encouragement, words that may serve to help dispel the darkness of hatred.

“9/11 was a sad, dreadful event for any American, and we Muslims are part of this beautiful landscape called the United States of America,” said Khalid Saeed, who proposed the Interfaith Dinner idea to Pastor Trudy Franzen of St. Stephen’s. “I have lived in the USA since 1974 and am part of the community,” Saeed continued. “I am as American as anyone else.”

Saeed, who is president of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, added that after 9/11, hysteria swept the country regarding Muslims, creating “very tough times” for not only Muslims but for Arabian people and South Asians as prejudice reigned.

“Not only Muslims but those perceived as being Muslims were targeted,” said Saeed. “Even more than a decade after that dreadful day, an organized effort is going on to create ‘Islamophobia’ and hate against Muslims.”

The dinner planned for Jan. 19, is a step toward promoting education and understanding between Christians and Muslims, both Saeed and Pastor Franzen agree.

“Khalid came up with the idea for the dinner and our people are really excited,” said Franzen, who for about a year has led a congregation of about 150 at the Lutheran church on Olson Lane off El Dorado Hills Boulevard.

“I found Khalid to be a tremendous friend and support when I was in my first year of ministry in Woodland. When he says he will pray for me, I know he does. We’ve maintained our friendship since meeting in 2007.”

Franzen said in pitching the idea to church members a woman in her 80s came up to the pastor and said, “How will we ever learn what people are like if we do not take these opportunities? I’m for it.”

Saeed said members of his following also are looking forward to the event and will be happy to serve a traditional Pakistani dinner, which likely will consist of spiced meats and other dishes.

“Pakistani cuisine has a large variety in which we enjoy vegetarian dishes but also a lot of items with beef, lamb, goat, poultry and seafood,” he explained. “The dishes are exotic and flavorful, but still may vary with individual tastes and are adjusted with spices. I don’t know the exact menu for this upcoming dinner yet, but generally there will be salad, nan bread, rice, some curried meat or poultry and at least one vegetarian dish in case someone does not eat meat. I am sure we will have some kind of dessert as well.

“We are just making a small effort to let people know who we are and what we are, same as any community, with the same hopes and dreams to live in peace, raise and educate our kids, by being positive, contributing members of American society,” Saeed said.

 

Promoting understanding

Pastor Franzen said she has come to be quite impressed with her friend’s dedication to promoting understanding and acceptance of all people and is happy to participate in the joint effort.

“After the World Trade Center tragedy in 2001, Khalid was inspired to reach out to people of different faiths, especially so that Muslims could be better made known. He was very moved to dispel fear,” she said. “I met him when I was a new pastor and I was excited to find someone like him, who was interested in friendly dialog with Christians.

“We share many values, such as the need for people of faith to work for justice for the poor. We both have worked on the issues of homelessness and feel that a just society cannot allow such a thing. We also share an interest in non-violent change.”

The pastor said Saeed dedicates much of his spare time toward efforts promoting peace and goodwill.

“Khalid works for Raley’s and I run into him often at my local Raley’s,” she began. “He’s actually very busy, because he is not paid to do faith work. He works full time and still finds the time to work for interfaith relationships and connections.

“He was very instrumental in promoting an event in Davis called, ‘Celebration of Abraham’ in which the “three faiths of the book” (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) come together to celebrate their common heritage in Abraham.”

Saeed lived in Woodland, where his three children were born, for 35 years before moving to Sacramento five years ago. He recalls how he met Franzen.

“I am part of the ‘ Woodland Ecumenical Ministries’ and that’s how I got in touch with Pastor Trudy,” he said.

Saeed added that the public might not realize just how many of the Muslim faith live in the greater Sacramento area.

“In Woodland we have a population of about 2,500 Muslims and in greater Sacramento we have around 60,000 Muslims living.” Muslims have lived in Northern California since the mid- to late 1800s, Saeed pointed out.

The dinner event begins at 5 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 1001 Olson Lane off El Dorado Hills boulevard. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by Jan. 16 so that enough food will be prepared. Call 916-933-1441 to make a reservation.

“Anybody and everybody is encouraged to join us,” said Saeed. “It’s just to get to know each other and eliminate the fear of the unknown, the biggest fear known to mankind. Let’s move from fear to friendship.”

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

  • choose this day whom you shall serve...January 10, 2014 - 1:51 am

    Just a warning- "I went to a catholic church back in the bay area just after the 911 September attacks. The christian church I attended along with my friends catholic church had planned to come together to see what the christians could do to help the Muslims in our community & town. So when the invitation went out I went to see and hear and to pray. The invite was given to do just what you are doing with this Muslim/Christian get together. The get together service was on a Sunday evening in the catholic church my friend attended all her life, and she went to catholic school there also. Now she and I were both sitting in her church pews. The service started and the catholic leaders began to lead. The church choir sang and all of a sudden a lady in the choir passed out. The ambulance was called by someone as the sirens blared, but the church service never stopped. My husband went around the back to the side of the church where the ambulance was to see what he could do to help. The service still continued on. The lady was taken away as every one just acted like nothing was wrong, except for my husband who left to help. Towards the end the invitation was then given to the Muslim community to come up in front of the catholic church. A special microphone had been put just below the main church altar specifically for the Muslim leader who was going to speak out to let everyone know how to help the muslim in the community. The catholic leaders then motioned for the muslim leader, a young lady to come up to the microphone. The Muslim lady walked briskly to the front of the church, and then proceeded to quickly pass by the church leaders, and she bypassed the microphone she had been told to use that had been set up for her just below the church altar down front. She was a very aggressive young woman. Not one catholic leader stopped her as she walked straight up the steps of the catholic church main altar and she then took the big main gold altar of the church that my friend later told me was for the head priest of the catholic church to stand at, and no one else stood there, ever. The priest stood at this gold altar to give the Bible reading for the rest of the church to follow along on a Sunday morning. My friend was very distraught I could see as she grabbed hold of my arm in what I saw was fear gripping her now over this Muslim lady now standing in a place she had only seen a head church priest stand at all her life. To my friend that church altar was very sacred she said over and over. Now a Muslim was standing behind it with her own Islamic faith and belief and muslim agenda set down on the sacred church altar. The young muslim lady in her 30's was very strong willed, I could see, as she proceeded to talk on the muslim agenda she was now speaking out very bold and strong as she was presenting to the church people what the muslims wanted. What she said during her agenda talk that was worse than where she was actually standing was he was speaking out that Jesus christ was Not the son of God. She spoke out that Jesus was not the Son Of God, but only a prophet. At that moment I had had enough. I stood up and I walked out of the church. Only 1 other person stood up to also walk out. Yet, Not one catholic Priest, and Not even my own christian pastor stood up for Jesus at that moment to say; "Jesus christ IS the Son Of God." Nor did they walk out…2 John 1:10-11…-It would be the following days to come that my own church pastor would write A letter, grieving, and humbling himself before God & Man to all his congregation, and he would tell us he had not slept all night as he was grieved in his Spirit over what had happened, and what was said. My pastor would then send the letter out to each and everyone of us telling us all that he was very sorry, and under strong conviction that he had not stood up for the name Of Jesus christ, and proclaimed and said that Jesus christ IS the Son Of God, and that Jesus IS NOT just a prophet. -& Sadly, it was already done. Deception had gone forth and no one stood up for the truth. The evil and all spoken out and went forth up in the catholic church altar. The very next day my friend had her volunteering job in her catholic church, and that was to water all the beautiful plants that surrounded the church altar, and she also vacuumed the carpet up at the church altar. I will never forget the call I got from my friend the very next morning after the muslim lady had spoken out that Jesus was NOT the Son Of God. My friend said she got to the church, and as she walked up to the church altar she said she could not believe her eyes, every single plant on the church altar and surrounding the altar was completely dead. The very next month her favorite church priest that was also in attendance that night, and had help to lead the muslim/christian service, as he held a high position in her catholic church for many many years, -sadly enough, he was caught stealing from the church money that was collected from the people. My friend was distraught as she said this was not like him, the priest she had known for so many years it was just not like him to ever do something like this. Stealing?…My friend knew something was just not right in the church. She could see that her church was not the same after the muslim/christian had come together. "Be not deceived -God is not mocked,; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. Galations 6:7….My friend left that church after attending it for almost all her life. To her it was a defiled church. My friend went to talk with a priest. The church would not discuss any of it any further. Yet, I told her the devil is crafty and cunning, and deceptive, and he will do anything he can to hurt the body of christ, and lead people astray from the truth in God's word. The Bible even say's in the last day's some would be deceived, and led astray, and even the elect would be deceived, If possible.…I have stood up for my faith in Jesus christ many times with the muslims. It takes fasting & Prayer to prepare. As I spoke out Jesus -A Muslim man made a joke right in front of me to his muslim friend, and then he snarled at me with a angry twisted face, and he yelled out to my face and he called me a pig. Next he then spit on the ground right next to my feet where I was standing. The evil within him could not hide, but the darkness had manifested in front of me, at me. Yet, Thanks be to God I had been prepared, and I knew what I was facing. I had fasted and been in prayer as I then spoke the word… Prepare yourselves & saturate yourselves for that day. Be as wise as a snake but as innocent as a dove…-& Speak out the Word & revelation of Jesus christ ...Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death." May The Lord Be With You, And Also With Me, I Pray.

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  • clap trapJanuary 10, 2014 - 6:13 am

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  • Luanne ChittendenJanuary 10, 2014 - 9:53 am

    What a lot of horse doo.

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