In Wichita, Interfaith Interest in Islam Tapering Off Five Years Later

September 9, 2006

Source: Witchita Eagle

On September 9, 2006 the Witchita Eagle reported, "In the weeks and months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, learning about Islam was high on the agenda of many non-Muslim congregations in the Wichita area. Five years later, interest seems to have diminished. 'There are still requests, but it's definitely not like before,' said Nabil Seyam, a member of the Islamic Society of Wichita who leads presentations about the faith. Some churches sought out speakers from the Muslim community to give presentations after Sept. 11. Others offered classes to study the beliefs of a religion that is followed by more than 1 billion people worldwide. And in at least one case, a church reached out to local Muslims five years ago and still keeps the ties intact. Overall, efforts to explore a faith that is in the center of geo-political events seem to have lost steam -- or never started at all -- among area churches. In October 2001, Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Derby sponsored a community forum in which local Muslims shared information about their faith. Their message: Terrorist attacks were done by extremists and did not represent the true message of Islam. The Rev. Greg Brandvold, pastor at the church, said he wanted to hold a community forum in Derby because many non-Muslims had limited knowledge about Islam. 'We did something so people could learn a little more about Islam and to remove some of that fear in our community,' he said. Since then, some church members have discussed Islam in small groups, but the church hasn't attempted to have another forum or hold other educational activities... For an entirely different reason, Congregation Emanu-El hasn't offered any programs on Islam to its members. 'Everyone I've spoken to in this congregation understands the difference between a terrorist and a person of faith, between an extremist and someone who is devoted to their God,' said Rabbi Michael Davis."