The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lansing, Michigan has received help from a local mosque, which is allowing the congregation to hold Sunday services in their gymnasium while their new church is under construction.
Since April 3, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation has been holding their services in the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing's gymnasium while the congregation waits for construction on their new church to be completed, Religion News Service reports. The Islamic Society offered the space for free, in the name of providing "an example to other faith-based communities around the nation," according to Sohail Chaudry, the imam at the Islamic Society.
"No charge whatsoever," Unitarian Rev. Kathryn Bert told RNS. "It’s been a lovely story to live. It has been a beautiful relationship."
As thanks, the congregation has made the decision to give its plate offering from one of April's services to the mosque. The Islamic Society will give the money to Islamic Relief USA, an organization offering aid to victims of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The mosque holds its services on Friday, while the church meets on Sunday, making the two religious groups' arrangement a practical solution to the congregation's temporary lack of a home.
The church expects to move into its new building, a renovated school, in May. In the meantime, the Islamic Society has also put out calls for help with construction and renovation on its website. A post on the mosque's announcements blog asks for volunteers to come to the Unitarian Universalists' new location to aid in painting, building shelves, repairing, and cleaning.
In a similar case in 2012, the Salam Community Center in Sacramento, California, allowed the Spiritual Life Center church to hold its Easter services in their mosque, after the church lost its lease a week prior.
Under the traditional rules of Islam, non-Muslim churches are barred from meeting inside of mosques. But Adnan Syed, a spokesman for the Salam Community Center, said that his group saw an opportunity to help others, according to KOVR.
"I heard people are coming from the bay area — all over the place just to witness this one-of-a-kind event. And we're just happy to be a part of it," Syed said. "We'd love to see more of this not only here, but across the nation," he added.