Christian, Muslim faith leaders come together to discuss differences, strengthen community

Published: Aug. 30, 2015 at 5:31 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2015 at 9:05 PM EDT
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Dr. Jon Weatherly (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Jon Weatherly (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Tyler McKenzie (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Tyler McKenzie (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Northeast Christian Church (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)
Northeast Christian Church (Source: Todd Hoyer, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Faith leaders from the Islamic and Christian religions came together over the weekend to promote commonalities and ways to bring the Louisville community together.

In a time when acts of extremism at home and abroad still grip the headlines, the group gathered to tackle hot button issues.

Northeast Christian Church served as the backdrop, and the church's pastor, Tyler McKenzie, was the moderator.

"Why is it that we struggle so much to get Christian and Muslims together for conversations?" McKenzie asked.

He said the goal of the two-day dialogue was to "educate people in the church on the two major religions in the world."

Imam Muhammad of the Muslim Community Mosque represented the ideals of the Islamic faith while Dr. Jon Weatherly, Dean of Biblical Studies at Johnson University, served as the expert on Christianity.

At the heart of the discussion were the differences between the two major religions, giving the audience - mixed in make up - a true understanding of where the ideologies differ.

Also in focus: the fear harbored by many Americans concerning Islamic extremism.

That fear was only reawakened by the recently thwarted terror plot on a Paris-bound train, where three American men stopped a would-be terrorist from turning the train into a bloodbath.

"We must denounce what they are doing," said Imam Muhammad, "as a human being before I am a Muslim. Nobody can accept what they are doing."

So how do both major religions and their respective communities move forward? Both faith leaders say everyone work together.

"We believe in a God who created us with great dignity, and we affirm that as we work together to help people in need," Weatherly said.

"We can live together, we can work together," Muhammad said. "We have a big space to spread justice and peace in our city and in the world in general."

Both faith leaders said they hoped the interfaith discussion hosted at Northeast Christian Church was the first of many.

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