On Monday, June 18, 2018, Rev. Bart McNiel attended an Eid Appreciation Tea at the Ismaili Jamatkhana Center in Decatur by invitation of Smoke Rise friends and neighbors in the Ismaili Muslim Community. The event was held in honor of community first responders, including representatives from Dekalb County police, fire and emergency medical services.
Members of our congregation met new friends and neighbors more than a year ago when our church reached out to support Malik Waliyani after a robbery at his gas station. After getting to know Malik, we got to know his faith community better. During our Wednesday Night study of other religious traditions, we received Farida Nurani as a guest speaker. Ms. Nurani represents the Ismaili Council for the Southeastern United States and lives in the Atlanta area.
Ms. Nurani and Malik reached out to our pastor to invite us to send a representative from our church to attend the Eid tea event. Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid includes prayers that encourage charity and community welcome.
“We were honored to be invited as guests of our neighbors and friends in the Ismaili community. I had driven by the Ismaili Jamatkhana Center in Decatur many times on the way to visit church members at Dekalb Medical Center, but did not recognize it as a landmark for Ismaili neighbors who own businesses near our church, in Tucker, and in other neighboring communities in our area,” said McNiel. “I had more than one first responder representative approach me because they noticed my name tag identified me with Smoke Rise Baptist Church. They expressed gratitude for churches and leaders that are willing to get to know neighbors and to partner with others for the common good.”
Pastor Chris George could not attend due to a conflict, but commented on the importance of being good neighbors. “Fear is the opposite of faith and an enemy to the formation of community. First John 4, says, ‘Perfect love drives out fear.’ In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us to be a good neighbor across traditional divides. So, we give thanks for those who are serving in our community, police and fire, as well as those who, like the good Samaritan, are seeking to be good neighbors,” said Dr. Chris George.