Texas Church Helps Mosque Damaged After Snowstorm

Austin, Texas - Feb 15, 2021: Night view of the blizzard in Austin, Texas. By ChangJR Lin

(RNS) — A suburban Texas church is helping a nearby mosque recover from the devastating snowstorms that hit last week.

First United Methodist Church of Denton, north of Dallas-Fort Worth, has started a GoFundMe campaign to help the Islamic Society of Denton pay for repairs needed in the wake of the disaster.

Not everyone in Texas is happy about it.

After a video showing water pouring from burst pipes in the mosque’s ceiling went viral on social media, the church launched a GoFundMe campaign to fund repairs, which are expected to take weeks to complete. By Thursday (Feb. 25),  nearly $55,000 out of a targeted $100,000 had been raised.

“Your friends at First United Methodist Church of Denton and Open Worship are with you,” wrote Jonathan Perry, a minister at the church, on the GoFundMe page. “We send you prayers and love and support. Please let us know how we can help further. As-salamu alaykum!”

Perry told the  Denton Record-Chronicle  that “the church has a longstanding friendship” with the mosque and that the two congregations have “been there for each other at important times.”

First United Methodist Church, founded in 1857, is just a mile and a half from the mosque, which dates to 1981.

Faraz Qureshi, president of the board of the Denton Islamic Society, told local media that the support was "heartwarming,” but the Methodists' gesture hasn’t been received with universal praise in Texas. WBAP, a Fort Worth talk radio station, condemned the funding of the mosque’s refurbishment in a segment that included Islamophobic rhetoric that was published online by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Denton County, where both the mosque and church are located, was declared a disaster after multiple snowstorms last week brought subzero temperatures to parts of Texas in which such weather is uncommon.

The massive winter storms left millions of homes across the state without power and caused an estimated $50 billion in damage. At least 34 weather-related deaths in Texas have been reported and more than a million people still lack normal water service in the aftermath.

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