On Wednesday, September 7, Newton County clergy members and other community representatives hosted a luncheon for Imam Mohammad Islam and members of the Doraville-based Masjid Attaqwa Islamic mosque. The mosque made news last month with the announcement of plans to build an Islamic cemetery, burial preparation facility, and house of worship on land acquired in Newton County in August 2015 by the nonprofit Al Maad al Islami Inc.
The gathering of more than 40 in the Oxford College Dining Hall was hosted by Oxford College Chaplain Lyn Pace and arranged through the efforts of local pastors and citizens seeking to repay hospitality given during an August 23 visit to Masjid Attaqwa. Clergy members who visited the Doraville mosque and helped organize Wednesday’s luncheon include Rev. Edwin Beckham, Church of the Good Shepherd, Covington, Rev. George Lanier, Grace United Methodist Church, and Rev. Billy Wade, First Presbyterian Church of Covington. Individuals who visited Masjid Attaqwa and assisted with today’s luncheon include Elizabeth Allen, Maurice Carter, Michael Johnson, Dustin Ketchem, June McDowell, Josh McKelvey, and Kendra and Phillip Millerd.
During the meeting Wednesday, attendees enjoyed informal conversation over lunch, followed by a question and answer session touching on common roots between faiths, progress made easing tensions within the community and next steps for building bridges between the mosque and Newton County citizens.
Imam Mohammad Islam spoke of plans to host a large event in Newton County in coming weeks where members from his community can provide lunch, talk with future neighbors and answer questions people may have about plans for the land on Georgia Highway 162. More details will follow soon on those arrangements.