Interfaith dialogues, symbols interlock

Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2013, 7:09 am
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By Leon Lagerstam,
ROCK ISLAND -- A crescent moon, Star of David and Christian cross appearing next to each other on a promotional flier symbolizes what to expect at an upcoming series of interfaith dialogues.

Equally symbolic is seeing leaders of the Islamic, Jewish and Catholic faiths standing, teaching and learning together, according to Imam Saad Baig, Rabbi Tamar Grimm and the Rev. Mike Schaab, who will participate in three presentations during the next three months.

The free series will begin Thursday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 2502 29th Ave., Rock Island, with a presentation titled "Debunking the Myths: Stereotypes and Misconceptions." The Tri City Jewish Center, at 2715 30th St., Rock Island, will serve as hosts for a Feb. 21, "Prophets, Prophecy and Messiah" discussion, followed by a "Who's in Charge? Structures of Leadership and Authority" presentation on March 14, at the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities, 6005 34th Ave., Moline.

Each presentation will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and will feature more time for questions and answers than last year's series, as well as refreshments. No reservations are necessary.

These interfaith dialogues enter their fifth year, and have continued to grow in popularity.

Attendance last year averaged 300 people or more at each session, Imam Baig said. The first session last year was at the Moline mosque, and ''it was amazing," Rabbi Grimm said. ''We didn't expect such a crowd. I think we had people in every crevice of the building and the parking lot was overflowing."

Adjustments this year should better accommodate attendees, Imam Baig said.

Attendance and feedback received last year convinced the three religious leaders to do another round of dialogues this year, Imam Baig said.

"Everyone's need for learning has continued to grow, and we knew we had more subjects that we wanted to convey that were relevant and important to people in the Quad-Cities," he said.

It also coincides with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Second Vatican Council that served as an impetus to create such interfaith dialogues, the Rev. Schaab said.

"And the beauty of this one is seeing things from three different faith perspectives shared by three different spiritual leaders," Imam Baig said.

"People are fascinated and hungry to learn more," Rabbi Grimm said. "They can Google anything they want to know or find it on the Internet, but they still want to meet with someone and hear about it from them."

The three leaders have spent six months meeting and planning this series, Imam Baig said.

"And we learned a lot together in those discussions," he said.

Their discussions and the series of dialogues are all about "learning," Rabbi Grimm said.

"And respect," Imam Baig said.

"And friendship," added the Rev. Schaab.

"It's also for our future," Imam Baig said.

Rabbi Grimm said she also appreciates how it makes her ''feel like I have an equal voice in all this, at a time when I'm reminded a lot that I am a minority."

Members of each faith have continued to be more open to each other since the interfaith dialogue efforts began, the Rev. Schaab said.

A 10th anniversary 9/11 event also contributed to the openness, he said. That event, orchestrated by the late Rev. Ron Quay, of Churches United of the Quad City Area, led to the creation of monthly interfaith fellowship gatherings of clergy, the Rev. Schaab said.

About 20 to 40 clergy members representing different denominations and faiths attend the monthly gatherings, Rabbi Grimm said. A mailing list has about 100 members, she said.

The Rev. Quay, who died on Dec. 28 after a brief illness, also was among the interfaith dialogue founders, the Rev. Schaab said.

"We are proud to dedicate this year's dialogues to Rev. Quay's memory," Imam Baig said. "He will definitely be missed at this year's event, and his demise has been greatly felt."


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.

(More History)