During the past two weeks, our Caravan for Reconciliation has mostly visited houses of worship and universities, so a trip to Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn on Thursday was unique in content and in what we found there.
Our local organizer at the Islamic Center of America, Eide Alawan, had arranged for us to talk to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff about end-of-life issues and inter-religious understanding and dialogue in hospitals. Nearly 35 health care professionals took time from their busy day to attentively listen to Imam Yahya Hendi, Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Rev. Ken Bedell and Rev. Steven Martin.
After a generous lunch, our hosts were eager to show us their new “Sanctuary,” where patients, visitors and staff can pray in the center of the hospital and practice their many faith traditions from Christianity to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.. It was clear that hospital staff at Oakwood is not only proud of the Sanctuary, but that respecting their patients’ many faiths is important to them. Oakwood Hospital’s Sanctuary is open 24 hours a day and is connected to the hospital’s Spiritual Support Office.
We were impressed by how thoughtfully the Sanctuary incorporated space for different faith traditions while respecting the integrity of each religious practice. For Clergy Beyond Borders, the Sanctuary was a beautiful manifestation of our principle of respectful religious pluralism. When I took the photo on the left, below, there was a separate but connected room behind me in the Sanctuary for Muslims to pray. Glass panels can be moved in place for privacy while allowing visitors to the Sanctuary to view others’ religious practices and learn from them. The stained glass window on the right, below, can be seen from outside the Sanctuary in the hallway.