Originally published on ChristianAid
A church whose £600 Christian Aid Week collection was stolen has had the money replaced by members of the neighbouring mosque.
Members of the Ilford Islamic Centre read about the crime in the local newspaper, the Ilford Recorder, and at Friday prayers the following day they donated enough to cover the church’s loss. They had also given money towards the original collection.
A happy father David Milnes and imam Mohammed Jamsheid with the cheque covering the stolen cash.
Photo: courtesy of Ilford Recorder. Visit www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk
Father David Milnes, vicar at St Alban’s Church in Ilford, Essex, said he was ‘absolutely thrilled. It was a wonderful gesture of support, friendship and goodwill.’
When he told the congregation about the donation, he said, ‘everybody burst into applause’.
The church congregation also gave generously in the wake of the theft, which occurred on Thursday 22 May. As a result, the final collection was larger than the original one.
The friendly relationship between the church and the mosque goes back to the 1970s, when the mosque organisation purchased an old church hall from the church, and used the land to build the Ilford Islamic Centre.
Asked how the members of the church and the mosque got on so well, he said: ‘We just respect one another. They respect our position as Christians, we do not water down our faith, and we respect them.’
Mohammed Azam, a spokesman for the Islamic Centre, said that when Muslim worshippers heard what had happened, they wanted to cover the church’s loss.
‘There is a deep and respectful relationship between the two [church and mosque]. They are our neighbours, and we wanted to help them out,’ he said.
As well as being neighbours, the mosque and church leaders know each other through local meetings of the Three Faiths Forum, added Mr Azam.
St Albans’ Christian Aid Week collection was stolen from a locked safe and the theft was caught on CCTV. The police were told about the crime and they promised to attend within 72 hours but so far, all they have done is to provide a crime number, said Fr Milnes.