Prairie Village church looking to increase understanding of Islamic faith

Colonial

One northeast Johnson County congregation already known for reaching across traditional religious lines is hoping to extend interfaith discussions in the community even further with a new education program.

Colonial Christian Church at 71st and Mission in Prairie Village this month launched “The Jesus Fatwah” series of classes designed to help Christians gain a better fundamental understanding of the Islamic faith and its practitioners.

Ministerial Intern Shea Zellweger said the church’s educational committee decided to put on the series in light of the recent media attention on ISIS and the violence that surrounded the Arab Spring.

“This is a conversation that is becoming increasingly necessary in our country,” Zellweger said. “I started to feel like the conversations you would hear about Islam were closely mirroring the kinds that were taking place after 9/11. It felt like Islamophobia was on the rise again – and maybe it was never really down to begin with.”

The classes are based around a series of videos produced by the church’s parent organization and focus on different aspects of Islam and its devotees. The first class, which was held Oct. 5, focused on Muslim demographics.

“We’ve heard a lot of people already express surprise, especially at how the majority of Muslims are not Arab,” he said. “The estimates are that there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and the majority of them live in southeast Asia.”

Colonial has in recent years built a reputation for forging interfaith communication and collaboration. The building serves as the meeting place for a Jewish congregation, Temple Sinai, and last month Temple Sinai opened up its High Holiday services to members of all faiths.

Zellweger stressed that the education series is open to the public.

The education series will have its next class this Sunday, Oct. 19, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Colonial. Future sessions are scheduled for Nov. 2, Nov. 16, and Jan. 11. For more information on the series, click here.