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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Surprise visitor, impromptu talk

Salman Hassan, a devout Muslim from Pakistan and resident of Albuquerque, N.M., was so saddened by the attacks that he decided to visit a Christian church the following Sunday to apologize. Hassan was welcomed at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Albuquerque, where he was invited to give an impromptu temple talk.

"I have been horrified. ... I am very, very hurt. I am very sad, and I am very ashamed and horrified by the incident," he told parishioners. "Like myself, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who denounced this... These people who carried out this horrible act of war ... do not represent us, even though they might claim that they are doing this in the name of Islam and Muslims."

Patricia Holman, St. Paul's interim pastor, said, "I can tell you that the brief order [for confession and forgiveness] and the singing of A Mighty Fortress which followed this unique temple talk will never again sound the same."

The congregation responded to Hassan's talk with a standing ovation. Member Glenn Thaemert called the local TV networks, and by time the 10:30 a.m. service was over, crews from all three stations had arrived to interview Hassan and members for their 5:30 newscasts.

The following Friday, several members responded to Hassan's invitation to attend a gathering at the local mosque. And a St. Paul member who teaches high school English shared the story and a transcript of Hassan's remarks with her class, offering extra credit to any student who wrote him a letter. Twenty-six letters were delivered to Hassan the next day.


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