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Suggested Outline for Group Session:
Session length: 50-60 minutes
Relationships Between Muslims and Mennonites in the United States
Session objective: As a group, to take concrete, intentional steps toward dialogue/relationship with persons of the Islamic faith.
- Gathering (5-10 minutes)
Marlene Kropf's "Prayer for Peacemakers" in this booklet provides a six-part movement through prayer that could serve well here. For the third segment, or lectio divina, a meditation on Matt. 22:35-40-Jesus' command to love God and neighbor-or Micah 6:8 would be appropriate. Time devoted to each segment of the prayer can be adjusted to the total time available for your session. You may wish to go only as far as segment five of Kropf's movement, taking a spirit of confession into the group's next activity.
- Initial discussion (10 minutes)
Pose this question: "As you picture entering into relationship and dialogue with persons of the Muslim faith, what misgivings, fears, or questions enter your mind?" Take time to hear responses from the participants. If possible, record the list so all can see it and you can save it. The purpose is not simply to "list and dismiss." Rather, these questions will help to shape the actions the group chooses to take later in the session.
- Listen to stories (10 minutes)
Take some time to listen to the stories in Jason Shenk's article:
Northern Virginia Mennonite Church
Community Mennonite Church of Stouffville, Ont.
More complete stories can be found via "Stories about Mennonites and Muslims" at peace.mennolink.org/articles/shenk.html.
Allow time for responses. "What appeals to you about the approaches taken in each story? What makes you hesitant? What more would you like to know?"
- Small group dreaming/discussion (10 minutes)
Assemble participants into groups of three or four. Ask them to respond to the following questions:
· If we were to begin a relationship and dialogue with Muslims in our area, where and with whom might we start?
· What resources are available in our group or our area (gifts, meeting/recreation places, hobbies, interests, local organizations) that might serve as a point of meeting with local Muslims?
· What specific steps might we take first?
- Gather ideas (15 minutes)
Compile results from small group discussion, again making ideas visible to the group, if possible. As ideas are presented and discussed, help the group move toward consensus on an action plan. Detailed planning is not the objective, but a sense for a general direction and a first step. It may be useful to return the group's attention to the responses in #2: Do the group's hesitations or questions need to be addressed in some way before moving ahead?
- Closing (5 minutes)
If in the "Gathering" section you stopped at segment five of Kropf's prayer, end with segment six, offering intercession for the world and for this group's life and work within it.