The Michigan Muslim Community Coucil (MMCC) and the Interfaith Clergy Association of Greater Lansing held their first joint fresh dairy and produce distribution on Oct. 31.
For the past three months, only the Islamic Center of East Lansing was part of the food distribution after partnering with the MMCC, which usually conducts food distributions in the Detroit area. The MMCC’s distributions are supported by the USDA, but they also take donations.
The interfaith effort began when Thasin Sardar, a member of the Islamic Center and the MMCC’s Advisory Board, reached out to members of the Clergy Association, asking to make the distribution an interfaith effort.
“With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought it was a good occasion for all members of the faith community in the Greater Lansing Area to build on the spirit of Thanksgiving,” Sardar said.
The Clergy Association accepted the offer, and members contributed in various ways. According to pastors from the several churches that assisted, the congregations contributed funds and volunteers.
Many of the clergy members felt that it was their responsibility to help out in the distribution or at least encourage members of their houses of worship to help. One of those clergy members was Pastor Laura Miller-Purrenhage of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Grand Ledge.
“As people of faith, we believe that all people are beloved children of God, which makes us all siblings,” Miller-Purrenhagewrote in an email. “Scripture teaches us that if our siblings are hungry or in need of good nutritional food, then it is our responsibility to care for them, just as we would care for our own families.”
For her and other clergy members, the interfaith aspect of the distribution is just as important as helping out people in need.
“Working together, following the calling of our God, we can break down walls of anger, fear, and confusion and remember our common humanity, as well as the commonalities among our faiths,” Miller-Purrenhage wrote.
While the interfaith food distribution has only happened once, the Presbyterian Church of Okemos, which was also part of the distribution, has engaged in interfaith activities with the Islamic Center since 2016. Clergy association member Assistant Pastor Alice Fleming Townley said the Presbyterian Church of Okemos and the Islamic Center have connected through the common morals their faiths have.
Members of the Presbyterian Church and Islamic Center have met on Zoom to talk about topics, such as sources of strength from their faiths during the pandemic, and racial issues. These events are intended to build understanding among people of different faiths.
All the houses of worship that participated in the food distribution, along with the clergy association as a whole, are a part of the Immigrant and Refugee Resource Collaborative. Shirin Timms, the coordinator for the IRRC, says that getting resources distributed to those in need is important to making people in need feel hope.
“Resilient communities are ones that find the means to connect as many people and organizations as possible,” Timms wrote. “In this, we leverage resources and hope. It is in our connection that needs are met, and children and families are lifted forward,” Timms wrote.
There are no further distributions currently scheduled, but any future distributions will be announced.
Thasin Sardar is a member of ELi’s Community Advisory Board.
Glad to be hearing about the good works in your community?