|From left: Vicky Langston, who chairs Boston Avenue Church’s Interfaith Concerns committee; Mark Kharas of the National Council of Churches; and pastors Mouzon Biggs Jr. and Bill Crowell.
Boston Avenue Church in Tulsa is one of five congregations nationally to receive the inaugural Interfaith Engaged Congregational Initiative Award.
Mark Kharas, commissioner of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (NCC), traveled to Tulsa from Boston, Mass., to make the presentation during worship Jan. 8.
Kharas told the congregation, "I saw your interfaith statue this morning, and it is lovely. It is truly reflective of the tremendous amount of interfaith work you have done for years. It is through deep, sustained relationships with mosques, synagogues, and temples of all varieties that real bonds of friendship, respect, and understanding are forged."
He continued, "God calls us to be in community with all creation—not just other Christians, but with everyone we meet."
Accepting the award on behalf of the church, Senior Pastor Mouzon Biggs Jr. said, "We believe one doesn’t have to water down one’s own faith to talk to people of other faith communities. We do not have to be less Christian or less United Methodist in order to sit at table and eat with members of the Jewish or Muslim communities.
"We are truly honored and blessed by our knowledge and our sharing with these other faith communities."
Interfaith work by Boston Avenue includes hosting the Open Tables program, which brings together people of different faiths three times a year for potluck meals. Groups take turns teaching. A presentation last year by Hindus featured dancers, a slide show, and music.
The interfaith statue at the church depicts three young people—a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim—in relationship with each other as they dance together. It is inscribed with a Scripture recognized by all three faiths: "How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! For there the Lord ordained blessing, life forevermore." (Psalm 133)
NCC’s initiative was begun to help congregations strengthen self-understanding and identity as a community deeply rooted in the Christian story and, at the same time, open to learning from, working with, and sharing with those of other faiths.