The story of a mouse provided inspiration for a quilt at the Interfaith Storytelling Festival Saturday at Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
Hanadi Rashad, a member of the Annoor Islamic Center in Clemmons, led children ages 6-12 in a project to design an interfaith quilt. Children wrote their own messages to the world —along with their name, religion and age — on 8-inch squares of fabric based on a story titled ‘The Mouse Trap.’
The story is about a mouse that couldn’t get other animals on a farm to help him do something about a mousetrap in the farmer’s house.
“The message is we are all in this journey together,” Rashad said.
Noor Shehata, 12, also a member of Annoor Islamic Center, focused on love.
“Love doesn’t depend on color, religion, gender, culture, background and age,” Shehata said.
More than 200 people attended the free storytelling event, which was sponsored by Interfaith Winston-Salem, a nonprofit that encourages collaboration among religious faiths.
The storytelling is part of the nonprofit’s continued goal to get different people from different faiths and traditions together so they get to know each other better and learn about each other’s traditions, said Jerry McLeese of Interfaith Winston-Salem.
“The idea is once you can establish contact with other people, than you can start building relationships and then you can start building trust that may not be there,” McLeese said.
The program included story-telling sessions presented by people of the Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish faiths.
Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn of Immanuel Temple, Imam Khalid Griggs of the Community Mosque and John “The Baptist” Ashburn, a storyteller and member of Knollwood Baptist shared stories from their traditions with adult festival-goers.
Ashburn told the story of how a relative, Teddy Osborn, was shunned by his family in his hometown of Todd until he finally left in 1905. Fifty years later, several of Ashburn’s aunts went to visit Osborn, who by then was a well-to-do businessman living in a mansion in Oregon.
His first words were, “’What took you so long?’” Ashburn said. “What took you so long? What took you so long?’
The questions quickly gave way to reconciliation, love and forgiveness.
“The joy that filled that room was unbelievable,” he said.
The festival also provided opportunities for children to sing and dance. Other storytellers included Thomas Moore with the Humpty Dumpty Dumpty story and dance and Judy Willis with The Doun Tale.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout and have several current and planned programs.
McLeese said that the programs are open to everyone.
“We aren’t limiting ourselves to just people of faith,” he said.
Adam Friedman, a member of Temple Emanuel, attended the event with his wife, Judy and their three sons, Joel, 6, John 5, and Adam James, 3.
“I always try to introduce our kids to different cultures and different backgrounds,” Friedman said.
Margaret Nicholson was one of 12 residents of Arbor Acres that went to the festival.
“I like to keep learning,” Nicholson said. “I think it’s important to understand other cultures.”