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Sign of support

By: Adriana Mingo

Posted: 03/6/2017 10:15 AM

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Members of Grace Mennonite church’s outreach committee, Larry Friesen, Pearl Barz, Willie Stoesz and associate pastor Kyle Penner stand in front of a welcome sign that shows support for the Islamic community.

ADRIANA MINGO | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Members of Grace Mennonite church’s outreach committee, Larry Friesen, Pearl Barz, Willie Stoesz and associate pastor Kyle Penner stand in front of a welcome sign that shows support for the Islamic community.

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A Steinbach church is showing their support for Muslims and the Islamic community with a new welcome sign that features a message in both English and Arabic.

The sign, which sits in front of the Grace Mennonite Church on Third Street, reads "no matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor" in English. The same message is translated into Arabic below the English.

Kyle Penner, the church’s associate pastor, said a conversation amongst the church’s outreach and refugee support committees started last month after the mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City occurred on Jan. 29.

"A bunch of us were wondering how we could best show support and solidarity for the Muslims in our community," said Penner.

The committees decided to install a sign that displays a message in both English and Arabic.

"The sign is currently an adaption of signs churches are using around North America to express gratitude for their neighbours who speak Arabic and are often Muslim," said Penner. "We figured we could adapt that for our context here."

The sign was installed last week. Penner said all of the feedback they’ve received on the sign has been fairly positive.

"It’s viewed as a concrete, positive sign to be a welcoming community—both as a church and as a larger community in Steinbach," he said.

Penner notes it’s important to show support because they believe being good neighbours is something Jesus calls upon them to do as a church.

"We also know being a visible minority in a community can be difficult at times, so we found this to be a fairly tangible form of support," said Penner.

The sign will remain up for a month.

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