First Miami-based Multi-Faith Picnic Between Christians and Muslims Starts Strong  


Posted By
Jessica Eturralde
Posted On

Executive Summary 

Last month, LYNC hosted a multi-faith picnic in partnership with Crossbridge Church and the Islamic Center of Greater Miami (ICGM). The picnic, attended by over 400 people, aimed to foster social unity and understanding through the principles of covenantal pluralism[1], as societal tensions often arise from a lack of understanding.  

The event—which included food trucks, merchants, bouncy houses, and a petting zoo—presented an opportunity for Muslims and Christians to interact with each other. At the picnic, leaders from both sides stressed the importance of creating a space where people can get to know each other better and possibly address pressing social issues together. 

The Next Step in Community Engagement 

Both communities started developing relationships a few years earlier on the leadership level, based on a model LYNC has implemented in Central Asia. Crossbridge eventually invited the mosque’s Imam, ​​Dr. Abdul Samra, to speak at their church office and answer questions about the Muslim community and its faith.    

The picnic, the first of its kind, welcomed both congregations to have a good time and create new relationships. Here in the U.S., a Christian-majority country, Muslims are looking for ways to educate others about their faith and mitigate Islamophobia. Imam Samra had earlier told LYNC that he believes education is the way to remove hate, racism, or discrimination: “When it comes to educating people—the more they know you, the more they get to love you,” he said.  

LYNC’s founder and CEO, Wade Kusack, called the event an illustration of what it means to love one another. “We might theologically disagree and logically disagree with each other,” he said. “However, we engage each other on a human level as good neighbors, loving each other, supporting each other, and helping each other in case some situation arises.”  

Many Christians expressed the desire to understand other religious contexts in hopes of building bridges. Members of both communities benefit from education from two angles:   

Firstly, their skepticism of the other diminishes as they gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other’s beliefs and practices. This mutual education fosters empathy and breaks down barriers, paving the way for stronger multi-faith faith relations.   

Secondly, each community gains a voice from the other, serving as a powerful antidote to extremism and Islamophobia. Hearing firsthand accounts and perspectives from individuals of different faiths challenges stereotypes and confronts prejudices. This not only mitigates hostility and dissonance amongst the religious communities but also promotes a sense of solidarity and unity, crucial for maintaining social cohesion and reducing the likelihood of extremism or hate crimes fueled by ignorance and fear.  


Reflections on the Event by the Attendees 

On the mosque’s grounds, Christians and Muslims sat at picnic tables and stood talking on the mosque’s lawn. In rows of canopy tents, members of the center displayed their wares: from trays of crunchy cardamom nut cookies to jewelry of precious stones and colorful racks of tunics and abayas.  

Tahir Ismail, ICGM’s Program Director, told LYNC that events like the picnic are “very important” and a “win-win” situation. He said he was pleased with the event’s outcome and was glad that the mosque could provide a place for fun activities and offer free medical screenings for the neighbors who do not have medical insurance. “I see happiness, I see smiles on the kids’ faces, and they are very excited, and I’m excited too,” he said. “I love it.”   

Ismail’s main message is that Miami’s Muslim community is peaceful and interested in sharing its values and understanding others. He called the event one way to accomplish the community’s main objective: “So others in the community can see how nice our people are, get to know each other, and ask questions. We will be putting more effort towards this,” he said.  

Crossbridge Assistant Pastor Johnny Contini said events like the multi-faith picnic are essential because we have much more in common than we don’t. “Even if we disagree on certain things—different aspects of our faiths, let’s say—it’s okay,” he said, because speaking from the societal perspective, the community can unite around the common good and build bridges.   

Muslims often conveyed interest in welcoming relationships and emphasized that they want others to understand that their people are not extremists. Almost all stressed their community’s position as a peaceful people. “Loving your neighbor means we are family,” a lady with hazel eyes and a white hijab said. Another told LYNC that her wish is just for peace: “We say hi to each other with ‘As-salaam alaikum.’ “This means ‘Peace be upon you,’ which means that there is no harm that I wish you—just peace. This is what I wish for the world.”     

“What brings us together is not our differences,” ICGM member Labib Ahmed told LYNC. “It’s respecting each other’s differences that brings us together. Even if we have different beliefs, we still respect one another.”  

The mosque is giving out a survey for feedback to maximize benefits for similar events. Crossbridge Lead Pastor Carter Brown told LYNC that it’s sad that an event like the picnic is rare for the Church to engage in. “I think there are many reasons for that, but I think in a polarized country where people create echo chambers, and there’s so much divisiveness, and there’s so much hostility,” he said.  

Brown said he hopes more churches will get involved and think about how to step into the spaces of their city with a mission to get to know neighbors different from them. “I think we, the Church, have the opportunity to lead the way in bridging the gap between divided communities and modeling the life and ministry of Jesus to people.”  

Reflecting on the event’s outcome, Imam Samra called the picnic a wonderful event and a successful multi-faith partnership. “It was a great and very enriching experience for our communities,” he said. This is a very beautiful way to build bridges and bring our people together.” 


1 “Covenantal pluralism” is a robust, relational, and non-relativistic paradigm for living together, peacefully and productively, in the context of deep difference.