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Harrisonburg Christians Express Solidarity With Muslim Community

Courtesy Jennifer Davis Sensenig

The recent spate of anti-Muslim sentiments expressed by public figures such as Liberty University’s president and presidential contenders has prompted many Christian leaders, including some in the Harrisonburg area, to vocalize their own messages--of solidarity with Muslims. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

At a recent interdenominational meeting with other church leaders, Harrisonburg pastor Jennifer Davis Sensenig felt compelled to act. The topic of the meeting included Bible passages for the upcoming Christmas season, verses about justice and peace. Sensenig suggested she draft a personal letter of friendship to the Islamic Association of the Shenandoah Valley. To the person, she says, her peers agreed to sign on.

SENSENIG: I think the impetus is probably the grief and the pain over things that are so hateful, fearful, or ignorant. I just felt like we needed a voice of friendship and care and building relationship.

Crossing faith boundaries is not new to the area. Various organizations facilitate a variety of interfaith efforts, such as the Open Doors program, which offers housing to people who need shelter in the winter months. At Christmastime, the Islamic Association hosts Open Doors so that area churches can more freely hold Christmas services.

Sensenig and 26 other area church leaders from seven denominations signed the letter and sent it Monday. It offers respect--and a commitment to countering prejudice and rejecting “violent and abusive interpretations of either Muslim or Christian faith.”

Abbas Rawoot of the Islamic Association said that area churches have long offered support for the Muslim community. As for the letter, he says,

RAWOOT: I don’t have words to thank the community. I’m not surprised at all.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz was a freelance journalist for WMRA from 2015 - 2019.