From Curiosity to Cooperation
Contributed by President Douglas W. Robertson of the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake
"Love and virtue, faith and wisdom,
Grace and gifts were all combined.
As himself each loved his neighbor;
All were one in heart and mind."
Hymns No. 48, "Glorious Things Are Sung of Zion."
President Thomas S. Monson has encouraged us to “…be good citizens of the nations in which we live and good neighbors in our communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to those of our own” (''Until We Meet Again,'' Ensign, Nov. 2008). His words depict the relationship between the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) and the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake. The relationship began in 2010 when two missionaries dropped in at the AMC mosque. Shortly thereafter, members of the stake exchanged visits with the members of the mosque for several months, as both groups were curious about each other’s beliefs.
This curiosity has developed into active cooperation in service events and a demonstration that faith communities of dramatically different composition can support and strengthen each other. Our relationship has evolved as the AMC and the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake participated together in a clothing drive for world relief in late 2010. In cooperation with the AMC, the Wildwood Ward conducted a food drive in early 2011 resulting in several tons of food being provided to the local food bank.
The Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake held a “get-to-know-you” event at the Stake Centre in Saskatoon with over 200 members of the AMC and LDS communities attending a potluck dinner and presentation by the Canadian Blood Services (about 2/3 of the group were from the AMC). A blood drive was held May 2011. This event was on the first anniversary of the massacre of many AMC members in Pakistan as terrorists attacked mosques in that country. The event attracted significant interest from the Canadian Blood Services and the press and an excellent article appeared in the local daily newspaper.
Approximately thirteen sisters from the AMC attended a Stake Relief Society Training meeting in September 2011 before the Women’s Broadcast. The women participated with LDS sisters in several workshops on emergency preparedness and food storage. The AMC invited the Stake to send a woman to represent the Church at an inter-faith women’s event on Sacred Books in November 2011 where Jean Slocombe from our stake spoke on the Book of Mormon with about 130 women of various faiths attending.
President Robertson of the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake met with the local AMC council and the national President of the AMC, Lal Khan Malik, when he was in Saskatoon. A that time, a proposal was made to have more combined service events and that the 80 AMC communities and LDS stakes across Canada be invited to join together for similar purposes. In addition, the AMC has committed to work with the LDS and several other faiths on an Emergency Preparedness community outreach project. At the organizational meeting, the AMC members referred to the LDS community as their Brothers and the feeling was mutual.
As a result of the bond started in Saskatoon, the Church was asked to send representatives to the national AMC conference in Toronto, held in July 2012. While local Saskatoon leaders were invited directly, the AMC was pleased to have Elder David Murray, North American North East Area Seventy from Toronto, represent the Church and address the conference. This conference was very significant, as the international leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, presided over the event.
Based on the work done so far, the Stake President and Syed Shad, the president of the Saskatoon AMC, have been pleased with the opportunities to build friendships through this joint service. What started out as a simple interest in each other’s beliefs has grown into a partnership for service and friendship.