All Saints' Episcopal Church rector Tom Momberg was serving as a priest at a small Memphis, Tenn., church in 2001.
After Sept. 11, attendance at the church doubled in the following weeks, from an average of 25 to 50.
"Houses of worship, churches, synagogues, mosques, are places where people come at times of great distress and trial," he
As the congregation was trying to make sense of what happened, Momberg
led them in a meditation based on compassion and a time of silence to reflect on what happened.
It was not what many people wanted to hear at the time, Momberg
said, but 10 years after 9/11 he
is still hearing there is a need for compassion.
But it's not easy.
"How can I have compassion at the same time for someone that hates Muslims and someone who is Muslim?
"That's not a question that I suggest has an easy answer."
25 years as an Episcopal priest, Momberg
has participated in interfaith dialogues dating back to his
days at General Theological Seminary
in New York City, when he
tackled subjects pertaining to Jewish-Christian dialogue.
referred to those experiences as the beginning of his
desire to learn more about his
own faith and other faiths.
"The best way to know more about your own faith is to learn more about other faiths," he
"When we are afraid to learn about other religions ... in a way we are also afraid to learn more about our own."
experience, the more he
learns about his
faith, the more curious he
is to learn about other faiths.
Moving forward, Momberg
believes listening is key to easing religious tension and conflicts.
Ways to ease that tension include coming together at an interfaith service and daring to pray and share a meal or conversation together, he
"It's about coming together, sharing faith with one another and being willing to believe that someone else has something to teach you," Momberg