Local faith leaders come together to support Lehigh Valley Muslim community


Calls for change and prayers for peace rang out inside the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley Friday night as faith leaders and law makers from across the region stood in solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the mass shootings in two New Zealand mosques.

"We come together in prayer, we come together in grief and we come together with renewed hope and commitment that violence will never overcome love," said a local rector.

"We stand with you in your pain and we will stand with you as we conquer it together," said Larry Pickens, Ecumenical Director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches.

Each speaker represented a different religion or congregation but the message was consistent.

"We have to stand against hate whether it's antisemitism, bigotry, homophobia, Islamophobia there things that have no place in an religious tradition and certainly our world," said Rabbi Michael Singer of Congregation Brith Sholom.

"Despite our differences, when we need each other we come together," said Pickens.

Imam Basheer Bilaal with the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley says he and his community are devastated, but comforted to know they have the love and support of other neighboring faith communities.

"We're going to mourn and feel the sorrow and pain but it should be a means of coming together and being stronger and more resilient," said Bilaal.

"Local Muslims as well as Muslims around the world need to know there are people standing in solidarity with them," said Pastor Beth Goudy with the Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley.

The speakers admitted there's no easy fix and no magic words to help heal, but standing together and discussing ways to combat ignorance is certainly a step forward.

"Go outside your comfort zone and learn about somebody you don't know," said a Muslim leader.

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