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Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

On Tuesday, February 11, Mr. Aziz Dhanani, prominent member in the Atlanta Muslim community,

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Submitted by:  Mrs.  Charlotte McFarlin Connah

Link More Pictures:  Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University

presented a check to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia for construction of an interfaith peace garden on the Atlanta campus of Mercer University.  In attendance at a luncheon on campus were members of the CBF/GA Baptist-Muslim Committee, staff members of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology at Mercer, representatives from the Atlantic Institute, the Islamic Speakers Bureau, and members of the larger Muslim community.  Dr. Alan Culpepper, Dean of the school of theology was present to acknowledge the gift on Mercer’s behalf.

Dean Culpepper responded to the gift, saying:  “With this gift, and the interfaith peace garden it will make possible, Mercer both reaches a new plateau of maturity and makes a new beginning.  We are profoundly grateful for Mr. Dhanani’s generosity and vision.  It is a wonderful day when a Baptist university receives a gift from a member of the Muslim community and enters into a partnership to support Muslim students and foster greater understanding and collaboration between our respective faith traditions.”

CBF/GA, partner of Mercer University, has been active in interfaith dialogue for a number of years through its Baptist-Jewish Committee.  Frank Broome, Director, and Rev. D. Wayne Martin, head of the Interfaith Task Force, felt the need to extend those efforts to the Muslim community, and in 2011 the Baptist-Muslim Committee was formed. 

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Charlotte Connah and Darrell Smith were named as its co-chairs.  At the time Mrs. Connah, a retired educator, was also taking courses at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology and was deeply concerned that the Atlanta campus had no sacred space for students to spend time in reflection and prayer.  She was further troubled by the lack of student interaction between the general student population and those students of various nationalities and faith traditions who attended Mercer through the English Language Institute. 

“With Mercer having been established as a faith-based institution that today houses a seminary and is now home to students of all faiths and various nationalities, the concept of having a prayer garden, complete with a labyrinth and outdoor classroom, just seemed like a necessary addition to the campus.  What better place to build community?” says Mrs. Connah.  “Darrell and I presented this idea to our committee as a CBF/GA gift to Mercer Atlanta, and it was fully embraced.”  Work began with Dr. Richard Swindle, Senior VP of Mercer, to secure a site on campus to construct the project, and fund raising ensued in August 2013.

Over the course of six months, funds came in from persons of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths throughout Georgia and other states that constituted about 20% of the goal.  The breakthrough came when committee member, Mohammad Qayum introduced Mrs. Connah to Hasan Kamal, who then steered her to Anwar Khan and to Aziz Dhanani, who contributed the remainder of the necessary funding to CBF/GA.  Said Mrs. Connah, “I knew upon meeting these gentlemen that the project idea had transformed from a dream to a reality.  These kind men displayed great passion for dialogue and friendship, for mutual respect and harmony.  Together, we were of the same understanding, that we live in a world where loving our neighbor and avoiding our neighbor are incompatible.  Our future lies with our young people, and we must provide them with education and opportunity to foster the practice of building bridges through establishing friendships that embrace all of humanity.”

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University....

Click Link For More Pictures:  Interfaith Peace Garden On The Atlanta Campus Of Mercer University

“I am deeply moved by the commitment of my Muslim friends and by the generosity of Mr. Dhanani.  The Interfaith Peace Garden in Loving Memory of Zehrakhanu & Allauddin Dhanani will serve as a tribute to Aziz’s parents. I will forever cherish the friendship of these gentlemen and look forward to partnering with them as we work together on the Interfaith Peace Garden and many more efforts to follow.  My friend and partner, Hasan Kamal, said it best, ‘Aziz was the nucleus, and we were all links in this human chain.’ “

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