"In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher." The Dalai Lama
However, in recent times, religious intolerance has received a lot of media attention, an ironical twist on the "love your neighbour" aspirations of all the great religions. Florida pastor Terry Jones's burning of the Quran earlier this year brought attention to the fears and apprehension some people have of other faiths.
Rebecca Ebb-Speese, chaplain of the MapleCreek Lutheran retirement community in Grand Rapids, MI, helps community members understand the Quran and elevate community members' understanding. Pastor Becky, as residents of MapleCreek know her, launched her mission with the humble act of placing the Quran on her desk. A staff member from Kosovo saw the Quran and Ebb-Speece's interfaith mission began. A news release and radio interview raised community awareness.
“It’s opened their minds,” Ebb-Speese told mlive.com. “It’s opened up communication across the board, and there’s still a long way to go, but I think we’ve made some really good strides,” she told the media source.
Religious persecution goes counter to the American embrace of freedom of worship. Early Americans fled England to practice their faiths without fear.
Pastor Becky's determination comes at a needed time. Her classes emphasize the shared roots of different faiths, including those of Christianity and Islam. MapleCreek is a residence of the Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and offers Independent Living and Assisted Living and other retirement care.
The pastor is planning a Sept. 11 memorial this year.