Musings from the Interim Minister’s Inkwell: Prayer, Praise and Parking

A few weeks ago, I started a GoFundMe page to help the good people from the Hampshire Mosque raise the required funds they need in order to complete their parking lot project and move into their new worship space. We are going to dedicate our December Dedicated Offering to their goal.

I thought you might want to read the letter that I sent to the local papers. If you could pass along the Go-FundMe link to friends, that would be most appreciated!

Here’s the letter: As a member of the Amherst Area Clergy Group, I have been very aware of the efforts of the local Muslim community to raise funds to establish a permanent home in the Pioneer valley. Their faith tradi-tion does not allow for them to take out interest-bearing loans, so they had to pay cash for each part of the Hampshire Mosque building project. It cost over a million dollars, and after much hard work doing internal and external fundraising, they were able to finally finish the building renovation.

Unfortunately, the Town of Hadley cannot give them an occupancy permit until their parking lot is paved. As you can see in the pictures that I put on the GoFundMe page (which I have copied below), it desperately needs to be graded and paved. The cost is $85,000. They have managed to secure $40,000, but their resources are drained and they need help traversing the gulf. It could take them many months or even years to accumulate the remaining $45,000.

I have been in touch with Naz Mohamed, their community liaison, and she and members of her Board have pro- vided me with all the information that is in the GoFundMe page to ensure the accuracy of my presentation.

Why do I think it is important to get involved? I start with the question, “Who is my neighbor?” I have been a student of world religions my whole life, and they all teach compassion and kindness toward others. There is so much xenophobia in the world today, in large part because of ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups. Too often our fears compel us to paint with a broad brush and disperse our judgment across an entire people. As an American who cherishes religious freedom and as a person of faith who respects our Muslim brothers and sisters’ right to pray in their own spiritual home, I am compelled to help them make manifest their dream. We are all made stronger when we support one another in our diversity. It is only then that we are better able to see more clearly the holy that dwells within everyone.

It also seemed heartbreaking to me, knowing how hard they have worked to complete work on the Hampshire Mosque, only to be shut out for an indeterminate amount of time because the cost of a parking lot is so enor- mous. Sometimes we all need a little (or a lot) of help from our friends.

Besides the GoFundMe page, there will also be a Silent Auction fundraiser at the Wesley Methodist Church in Hadley on Sunday, November 19 at 4:00 P.M. , where proceeds will also go to the parking lot project.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. It would be wonderful to get this information out into the general public.

Peace and goodwill, Rev. Cindy

[Editor’s note: In February 2016, our UU Society raised $722.29 in a Dedicated Offering to assist the Hampshire Mosque’s construction project. Let us again share what we can so these neighbors may manifest their dream!]

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